When thrash metal hit big in the mid-80s, Berlin-based Noise Records was home to a number of era-defining and genre-defining bands. Now, 30 years on, the label’s relaunch begins with an emptying of the vaults: new anthologies from eight acts, including the biggest-selling Noise band, Helloween; the most extreme, Kreator; but not the most innovative, Celtic Frost.
What established Kreator as one of Europe’s elite thrash bands was the sheer violence in their attack. The first five tracks on Love Us Or Hate Us are drawn from the German trio’s debut album Endless Pain, the brute force and frenzied speed of Total Death and Flag Of Hate recalling the mayhem of early Venom. The best tracks, though, are from 1986’s Pleasure To Kill, a thrash metal classic with a malevolent air comparable to Slayer or Dark Angel.
The remainder of this two-CD set charts a gradual decline – more breadth, less intensity. It was only in recent years, long after they left Noise, that Kreator got back to their thrash roots and rediscovered their mojo.
Also featured in this anthology series are three of the most influential bands from Noise’s history: Helloween, pioneers of power metal; Skyclad, early adopters of folk metal; and Running Wild, whose 1987 album Under Jolly Roger spawned the barmy subgenre ‘pirate metal’.
The others are no less entertaining: pisshead thrashers Tankard, uber-gumbies Sinner, power metal disciples Kamelot, and the semi-legendary Grave Digger, whose anthem Headbanging Man makes Accept sound like art rock. But for pure, extreme aggression, Kreator win, hands down.