"The way the Germans did it," explains Nuclear Assault/Brutal Truth bassist Dan Lilker in the documentary film Get Thrashed, "was they were 16, they drank a lot of beer, and they played as fast as they could. Sometimes, sometimes, they kind of went off the tracks a little bit."
He is referring to the rise of so-called "Teutonic" thrash metal in the mid-1980s, when German bands like Kreator and Destruction were siphoning speed off Bay Area imports Exodus and Metallica, and coming of age in a country whose government was banning horror films such as The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Their initial sound? The heaviest, most violent in the world, and the inarguable blood seed of the even more aggressive death metal.
Kreator vocalist/guitarist Mille Petrozza says his band's sophomore Pleasure to Kill album—fast, Venomous, recorded live in a Berlin studio in '86—was discussed while planning the "organic" new studio effort, Hordes of Chaos. "Most of the records nowadays are cut-and-paste records," he says. "You record every drumbeat to a click track, and if the drummer fucks up a little bit, or doesn't hit hard enough, it's going to be replaced by sampling."
Hordes of Chaos, whose basic tracks were recorded live with imperfections and all, surges back and forth toward what reads like anarchy and sounds like the ungodly roar of Sweden's Unleashed: "Praying for a total escalation/to free the human race," the ragged Petrozza screams on "Escalation." Too political for thrash? (Ever heard Megadeth's Peace Sells... but Who's Buying?)
"We have political lyrics, but it's mostly about what pisses us off about politics," the frontman offers, divulging how the German government accused Kreator of "promoting violence" with 2003's Live Kreation, a release that has been banned from German dissemination. Petrozza shrugs off the ordeal with a chuckle, listing other banned media in Germany—like the videogame Mortal Kombat.
"You can compare it with nudity on American TV. Over in Germany, you can see a woman's breast, but you will never see somebody's head chopped off. It's the same kind of censorship... just in a different form."