Review by Daniel for Kreator - Extreme Aggression (1989)
"Extreme Aggression" was the release that introduced me to Kreator shortly after release & I frankly fell in love it right from the offset. To be more accurate, it was really the video clip for "Betrayer" that first brought them to my attention & it's still one of the greatest thrash metal tracks ever recorded in my opinion. I gave the album a right royal thrashing during the subsequent years & it held the prestigious position of my favourite Kreator record for an extended period there too. That being said though, it's been many years since I revisited it & after reacquainting myself with its wonderful follow-up record "Coma Of Souls" recently I thought it was time to see where "Extreme Aggression" sits in grand scheme of classic period Kreator after all these years.
"Extreme Aggression" is a very similar record to "Coma Of Souls" in many respects. It's an absolute riff-fest & a total thrash-a-thon! In fact, you'll rarely hear a record that better defines what late 80's European thrash was all about in my opinion as there's an nasty edge to the vocals, guitar tone & riff structures that makes Kreator infinitely cooler than the vast majority of their competition. The band had gotten significantly tighter by this stage too, particularly in the rhythm guitar & drumming departments. The guitar solos still spend a bit of time in off-key territory however it all sounds very cool indeed, even more so to an early teenage me.
The musical evolution that Kreator had started with 1987's "Terrible Certainty" has been further developed here with the band showing an increasing maturity in the song-writing department. Mille's newly acquired real-life lyrical approach would branch further away from the death-laden horror of Kreator's early works & I have mixed feelings on that. It's not a major concern but I do think his voice in best suited to sheer violence & blasphemy but he certainly makes a pretty good fist of the vocal hooks on offer here. The band show a great pedigree in not only thrash but also traditional heavy metal at times with an increased focus on guitar harmonies that reminds me just as much of Iron Maiden as it does of Metallica. Drummer Ventor can be seen to show a little more restraint than we were used to from his mid-80's efforts. Here we see him placing a lot more emphasis on the song-writing by picking his moments more selectively. He'd further refine that technique (not to mention his technical skills) before the recording of "Coma Of Souls".
There are no weak songs included. "Don't Trust" is clearly the weakest link however it's still quite enjoyable thanks to the previously-mentioned quality of the riffs. The rest of the album is absolutely top notch though with four of the nine tracks reaching genuine classic status for me. The one-two punch of "No Reason To Exist" & "Love Us Or Hate Us" pretty much rewrites the manual on how to write a great thrash riff while the two-track run of "Some Pain Will Last" into "Betrayer" is as devastating as any in the band's discography. "Some Pain Will Last" is the slowest inclusion of the nine & features an atmosphere that reminds me a lot of the down-tempo pieces from Slayer's "South of Heaven" & "Seasons In The Abyss" albums while the light-speed electricity of "Betrayer" is bursting at the seams with vitriol & spite.
"Extreme Aggression" isn't a perfect record but it was a noticeable step back up into the big league after the solid "Terrible Certainty" & is an undeniable classic that made a huge impact on my life from a very young age. It may not sound as extreme as it did back in the day but it's certainly lost none of its appeal. Interestingly though, after 30 years of listening to these two records I think that "Coma Of Souls" may have just pipped "Extreme Aggression" in my esteem for the very first time. I'm not sure how I feel about the fact that I now rate this record behind three other Kreator releases (i.e. "Pleasure To Kill", "Flag Of Hate" & Coma Of Souls") because I can't escape the feeling that it deserves more respect than that given the important role it played in my both my childhood & my musical development. Perhaps it's just a clear sign that Kreator were miles ahead of the rest of the Teutonic pack during their hey day.
For fans of Sodom, Slayer & Destruction.