Germany is one of the great European bastions of metal in general, and, of course, the German thrash scene – affectionately referred to as “the Teutonic thrash scene” – has a near-mythological status, spawning legendary bands such as Destruction, Sodom, and Kreator. Here are ten enjoyable Teutonic thrash tracks.
Sodom: Tired and Red (Agent Orange, 1989)
One third of The Great Three of Teutonic thrash metal, Sodom’s style is decidedly more raw and primitive than their peers, Kreator and Destruction, and therein lies the awesomeness of Sodom’s music. However, every now and then the German trio, lead by Tom Angelripper, reveal that they are indeed capable of adding sophistication to their music. ‘Tired and Red’ from their legendary album Agent Orange is an example of this. It starts out with a primitive, almost death metallish riff, but suddenly an acoustic breakdown pop in the middle of the song and is followed by a midtempo and passage which features a melodic rock-tinged guitar solo. It takes a lot of songwriting talent to pull this off!
Hate Squad: Your Rotten Life (Katharsis, 2011)
Drawing on crossover and groove metal, Hate Squad is a modern thrash metal who entered the scene in the 90s. Incorporating groovy riffs played on downtuned guitars and featuring almost guttural vocals, Hate Squad’s music captures the spirit of 90s thrash metal, but combine this with the speed and aggression associated with classic thrash metal. ‘Your Rotten Life’ from the 2011-album Katharsis showcases Hate Squad’s knack for balancing 80s thrash metal aggression with 90s thrash metal grooves.
Kreator: Betrayer (Extreme Aggression, 1989)
One of The Great Three, Kreator’s music was incredibly fast and aggressive back in the early years of their career. Although they have slowed down, their music is still of top quality. ‘Betrayer’ from 1989′s Extreme Aggression is a classic anti-politician song (politicians are betrayers, you know) and documents the fact that a lot of early Teutonic thrash acts were indeed politically and socially aware. The song is extremely aggressive (pun not really intended), but also shows that Kreator were a tad more technical than their peers. We are simply dealing with a Teutonic thrash classic here.
SDI: Alcohol (Sign of the Wicked, 1988)
SDI had a really short career, spanning from 1989 to 1989, and is more of a cult band. Their music is admittedly more on the melodic side, combining traditional metal with speed metal and thrash metal. This is quite well documented in ‘Alcohol’ from the Sign of the Wicked-album from 1988. Also, this track, of course, deals with a very popular topic in thrash metal in general – namely, alcohol, but, again showing the social awareness of many German thrashers of the 80s, the song actually does not glorify alcohol; it is actually a critical commentary on alcoholism.
Holy Moses: Current of Death (Finished with the Dogs, 1987)
Holy Moses were one of the very first Teutonic thrash metal bands, and – yes – it should really have been The Great Four of Teutonic thrash metal with Holy Moses as the fourth band. They are known for their extremely aggressive music and for having a female vocalist in the form of Sabina Classen. whole growling singing style rivals that of any male death-thrash vocalist. ‘Current of Death’ from 1987′s Finished with the Dogs is raw, dirty and aggressive and simply kicks ass. Holy Moses are unfairly underrated and deserve much more credit and attention than they have received so far.
Tankard: Under Friendly Fire (Beast of Bourbon, 2004)
Another legendary German thrash metal band is Tankard, who are known for their humorous lyrics, many of which deal with alcohol (in a more positive perspective than the SDI-song mentioned above). Despite their humorous outlook, there is nothing silly about their music. They deliver skull-crushing thrashing riffs and rock solid drumbeats (maybe being drunk has that effect). ‘Under Friendly Fire’ is from their 2004-album Beast of Bourbon, which is not one of their classic albums, to be sure, but still shows the band’s ability to combine humorous lyrics (in this case, they’re making fun of the many instances of friendly fire in which American troops would shoot at their British allies during the US-lead wars in Afghanistan and Iraq) with crushing thrash metal.
Assassin: Judas (Breaking the Silence, 2011)
Another cult band, Assassin are veterans and among the very first Teutonic thrash metal bands. Unfortunately, they were forced to call it a day in 1989 because all their gear was stolen, and they could not afford to buy new gears. Of course, now the band is back together, thrashing up the world. ‘Judas’ from 2011′s Breaking the Silence is one out of many German thrash metal songs about betrayal, and it features some old school crunchy thrash metal riffage. Musically, an impeccable thrash metal song, it features lyrics sung – or yelled – with such a thick German accent that you only realize that they are actually singing in English, after a couple of lines. Broken English is not a problem in Teutonic metal; it’s part of the genre.
Baphomet: Time has Come (No Answers, 1991)
Baphomets is another band whose career ended too soon. Considered one of the earliest death-thrash band by many, their style was actually considerably more technical than could be said about many of their peers. Formed in the mid 1980s, they released three albums in the early 1990s before calling it quits. ‘Time Has Come’ is taken from their 1991-album, and absolute classic, No Answers. Taking the listener through a bewildering array of riffs and changes, ‘Time Has Come’ is, for my money, a true tech thrash song. The vocals are so harsh that you can get laryngitis just from listening to the song.
Destruction: Day of Reckoning (Day of Reckoning, 2011)
One of The Great Three of German thrash metal, Destruction have been going strong since the 1980s and have released a string of thrash metal classics. While their music has developed from primitive black thrash into a more sophisticated and melodic type of thrash metal, their style has always retained the aggressive core of thrash metal. ‘Day of Reckoning’ from the 2011-album of the same name features both heavy and fast parts, and showcase Destruction’s solid playing and their ability to harness and express aggression.
Paradox: Hollow Peace (Riot Squad, 2009)
Paradox may be an obscure and relatively unknown band outside the thrash-geek circls. Nonetheless, Paradox is a veteran band that was formed back in 1986 and are still going strong. 2009′s Riot Squad offers a lyrical criticism of present-day human civilization laid on top of really tight thrash metal. Like Anthrax, Paradox incorporate a lot of melody into their music, which can be heard in this track which features both melodic guitar leads and melodic vocal lines. But make no mistake, ‘Hollow Peace’ is still aggressive as heck and features some passages that would make you break your neck if you tried to headbang to them.
Spotify users can access a playlist with the ten tracks in question here: