Sure, when you think of Germany your mind conjures images of World War II, or Oktoberfest celebrations. But besides beer and sausages, one of Germany's biggest cultural exports is heavy metal music, in particular power metal and thrash. This only proves the point that metal can penetrate through any language, physical or cultural barrier, political system or geographic location on this planet. From Power Metal to Thrash, we now present our top 10 German heavy metal bands.
See also: The 10 Best Heavy Metal Concept Albums
10. Angel Dust
When they started in 1984 this band was a full-fledged thrash metal unit. But unfortunately, the band broke up around 1990 after turning out two great albums, Into the Dark Past (1986) and To The Dust You Will Decay (1988). But, in 1998 the band was brought back from inactivity with a new, more melodic power metal sound. Though this version of Angel Dust no longer had a strict speed metal sound, as a more progressive metal group the band incorporated elements of thrash and classic metal riffs tempos and beats to the musical presentation. Through Century Media, Angel Dust released Of Human Bondage (2002), Enlighten the Darkness (2000), Bleed (1999), and Border of Reality (1998).
9. Dew Scented
This band is a crossbreed between thrash and heavy, extreme metal. With very clear influences of Swedish death metal, hints of black metal, hardcore and grindcore, Dew Scented bring the pain, it when it comes to brutal riffs, evil sounding vocals and insane, virtuoso guitar shredding. With a catchy hook for using breakdowns within thrash and death metal, this band is the best of both worlds.
See also: The Top 10 Heavy Metal Bass Players
Known across the world as a group of Industrial metal freakazoid pyromaniacs, the band formed in 1994 and soon began a plot of world domination, one twisted show at a time. In 1998, Rammstein was unleashed to perform for American crowds at the 1998 Family Values Tour along with Korn, Limp Bizkit Ice Cube and others. Since then, the firebug sadist head bangers have been recording, touring the world and pissing off conservative citizens of the globe. With a musical mix of synthetic, mechanical sounds and metallic harsh musicianship, the bands takes from NIN, Ministry, Fear Factory, KMFDM, Sepltura, Godflesh and Depeche Mode. As if music with lyrics sung mostly in German and songs about bestiality, sadomasochism, sexual perversion and arson aren't provocative enough, the band makes use of flamethrowers, pyrotechnics and heavy-duty explosives for its live performances.
This band are the godfathers of such bands like Municipal Waste. Since forming in 1982 in Frankfurt, the band has been part of the German thrash metal movement. These guys were pounding beer steins and inciting mayhem since the mid '80s. Unfortunately, the band hasn't always been given the recognition it deserves for its contribution to the metal scene in Germany. You would think after years of partying, drinking like maniacs and banging their heads the guys in Tankard would have slowed down, but the opposite seems to be the case. The older these guys get, the faster and more alcohol soaked their music becomes. Examples include Kings of Beer (2000), Beast of Bourbon (2004), A Girl Called Cerveza (2012) and R.I.B. (2014).
See also: The 10 Best Prog Metal Bands
6. Blind Guardian
Originating from West Germany in the mid 1980s, melodic speed metal band Blind Guardian rose to become one of the world's leading mythical power metal sensation. The band has conquered fans of classical music, opera, progressive rock and thrash. In a majestic career that spans three decades, Blind Guardian helped to invent power metal and have evolved to perfect and innovate it. Using themes such as mythology and tales from ancient traditions and folklore, Blind Guardian's latest album, Beyond The Red Mirror (2015) is another heavy metal fantasy opus.
At the front of the German heavy metal explosion in the early to mid 1980s, Accept was first brought together in the late 1970s, by vocalist Udo Dirkschneider, guitarist Wolf Hoffman and bassist Peter Baltes. Although Dirkschneider no longer fronts the band, Accept rages on new singer, Mark Tornillio. But, undoubtedly, it is the fourth album, Balls to the Wall, and the it song of the same name that put Accept onto the eternal map of heavy metal music, it an iconic metal classic that still rings the true spirit of classic true metal to this day.
See also: The 10 Best Industrial Bands
Perhaps one of the world's most renowned melodic power metal bands next to Iron Maiden, Helloween have been cranking out an epic, mystic coagulation of classical music, and thunderous heavy metal since forming in Hamburg, in 1984. Considered to be one of the pioneering forces of European power metal, the band has had over a dozen musicians in its line up and has 14 studio albums under its belt. The pair of albums, Keeper of the Seven Keys, parts I and II (1987-88) are still considered seminal power metal albums.
German Thrash titans Destruction burst onto the scene in 1983, and by1985 had released the LP Infernal Overkill. Into the mid to late '80s, Destruction toured with the likes of Sodom, Slayer, Celtic Frost and Voivod. For the band's best material, check out the 1986 album Eternal Devastation, and the EP from the following year, Mad Butcher. But, much like their peers, these thrash metal elderman are still recording and touring after over three decades of head banging fury.
See also: The 10 Best Viking Metal Bands
Another big name in German thrash, Sodom was also created in the early 1980s and drew inspiration from Motorhead, and Venom. Early on, the band's sound was more raw, dark, and lyrically into evil and the occult. Sodom's first album, with Obsessed By Cruelty (1986), has been cited as an inspiration by black metal bands like Mayhem and others. Many also consider it, and In the Sign of Evil (a 1984 EP) to be an early black metal release. But, it was the 1989 release Agent Orange that catapulted Sodom to the top in terms of worldwide tours exposure and album sales. The band's solid heavy, fast-paced thrash was violent, head pummeling and included songs about violent horrific war stories and apocalyptic scenarios. But, to date, the band has 13 studio albums and shows no sign of slowing down soon.
Arguably, Kreator is the German counterpart to Slayer when it comes to violent, raging, fast as hell and sinister sounding thrash metal. Through decades of relentless touring since the early '80s, Kreator have risen to become one of the world's most prominent thrash metal band. The band's pure thrash assault wins over fans of death metal, black metal and punk. Original guitarist and vocalist Mille Petrozza has led the band through countless world tours, and 13 studio albums, including the seminal classic Pleasure to Kill (1986). With a sound now just as dark, urgent and shredding now, as it was 30 years ago says a lot.
Alex Distefano is an established freelance writer and music blogger from the Los Angeles area. With over a dozen years under his belt as a published Journalist, he covers the worlds of heavy metal music, punk rock, current events, cannabis culture, comedy, radio, food, tattoos, the paranormal, and ‘conspiracy theories.’ He graduated from California State University Long Beach in 2012 with a Bachelor’s Degree in both Journalism and Ancient History. Aside from his professional writing endeavors, Distefano works as an Educator, and delivery/rideshare driver.