Whats New

80s German Thrash: The 35 Definitive Albums

German thrash gold!

80s thrash wasn’t just ruled by the Americans with the German thrash metal scene proving just as fertile as anywhere in the world…. as these 35 definitive 80’s German thrash albums ultimately prove!

Destruction – Infernal Overkill (1985)

Destruction - Infernal Overkill | Releases | Discogs

These Germanic, bullet-belt strewn boys made one hell of an entrance when their full-length debut detonated nearly 35 years ago.

Blackened thrash was the order of the day and Infernal Overkill came out charred, scorched and searing; the heat generated from this trio of tormentors manifesting itself as fervourous thrashers “The Ritual”, “Thrash Attack” and “Antichrist”.

While Infernal Overkill may have lacked subtlety and finesse it more than made up for its shortcomings in frenzied raw power and youthful exuberance.

Destruction would go on to define the Teutonic thrash scene and give rise to the unstoppable force of death metal, but it all began here!

Iron Angel – Hellish Crossfire (1985)

Iron Angel – Hellish Crossfire (1984, Vinyl) - Discogs

You’ve got to give these guys credit, Iron Angel were ripping heads clean off way back in 1985 and their distinct brand of Germanic speed / thrash may sound a tad ‘meat n’ potatoes’ to modern ears but Hellish Crossfire was the shit over 35 years ago; diabolically evil, face-meltingly fast and leading metal into ever more dangerous realms!

Opener, “The Metalian”, kickstarts the tempo and Iron Angel never once dropped the pace from then on in, unleashing merry hell in the name of real metal and peeling off riffs like the end of the world was truly nigh.

Totally in thrall to Satan, these sinners concocted an absolute blast of mid 80’s thrash that remains ridiculously addictive…. and holds its position as a speed / thrash classic from the genre’s formative years.

Also recommended: 1986’s Winds Of War failed to fully capitalise on Hellish Crossfire‘s blitzkrieg of metal but is still worth a listen if you fancy a deep-dive into the German thrash archives.

Kreator – Endless Pain (1985)

Kreator – Endless Pain (1986, Red, Vinyl) - Discogs

One listen to Kreator‘s Endless Pain and you’ll know that pain was more than just a prerequisite, it was damned near essential!

Motörhead met Venom in an endless parade of pile-driving riffs with little deviation from the standard verse-chorus-bridge school of song writing for dummies. Not that this was a negative; this was the early days of thrash and all-out-assault was the norm…. experimentation would come later.

Like a feral animal taking bloody chunks out of its prey, tracks such as “Total Death” and “Flag Of Hate” remain raw, animalistic and utterly unforgiving. Endless Pain practically defines thrash in all it’s gory glory; essential doesn’t quite cut it.

Angel Dust – Into The Dark Past (1986)

Angel Dust - Into The Dark Past | Releases | Discogs

Before they fully embraced power metal, Germany’s Angel Dust had a pop at speed / thrash and as debuts go, Into The Dark Past was a fast, frantic, thrill ride!

Resolutely obsessed with speed over finesse, these 8 ripping tracks were less Sodom and Kreator and more Iron Angel; a thrilling hybrid of speed and thrash that was equal parts melody and barbarity.

Romme Keymer’s vocals may have received a bit of stick over the years but they fit the music perfectly. Ugly, forceful, yet furnished with glimpses of power metal harmony, Keymer was actually an unorthodox yet perfect match-up.

Destruction – Eternal Devastation (1986)

Destruction - Eternal Devastation | Références | Discogs

Hot on the tails of the US thrash elite were Germany’s own teutonic terror’s and Destruction‘s Eternal Devastation was a bestial invasion that let the world know that the Germans were coming!

Perhaps not quite hitting the heights of 1985’s Infernal OverkillDestruction were still conjuring greatness and classic thrashers can be found here. From the all-time great that is “Curse The Gods” to the still surprising folk-thrash opening of “United By Hatred” and the air-raid siren soloing of “Life Without Sense”, Destruction sounded confident, brash and capable of anything on only their second full length release.

Early European thrash that consolidated Germany’s importance alongside the Bay Area acts, Eternal Devastation remains beloved by thrash fans the world over and for bloody good reason; it’s as devastating as ever.

Exumer – Possessed By Fire (1986)

Exumer - Possessed By Fire | Releases | Discogs

Exumer’s Possessed By Fire is a perfectly executed exercise in bestial devastation and should have elevated these Germans to superstar status.

Completely unpredictable, Exumer’s sound is defiantly thrash but not as intimidatingly raw as the albums produced at the time by their peers Destruction, Sodom and Kreator. In fact, at this stage in their career Exumer were the more accomplished musicians; each track running the gamut of time changes and mood-swings and exhibiting an addiction to attention deficit that still makes Possessed By Fire nigh on impossible to resist.

A legendary cult item, Exumer’s debut is one outrageously ornate thrash album that will continue to attract new fans, its schizoid attitude and countless charms are just too damn addictable to ignore!

Also recommended: 1987’s follow up album, Rising From The Sea, offered more of the same and was equally as effective!

Holy Moses – Queen Of Siam (1986)

Holy Moses - Queen Of Siam | Releases | Discogs

The rapid fire Venom-isms of “Walpurgisnight” and opener “Necropolis” indicate the influence the more ill-refined members of the NWOBHM had on these Germans and coupled with the unholy racket conjured by Sodom etc at the time, these ‘black’ metallers (Holy Moses’ words not ours!) were already catching up with the Teutonic three of Sodom, Kreator & Destruction.

While Queen Of Siam could never be described as the definitive Holy Moses release (that honour surely goes to 87’s rabid Finished With The Dogs), there’s a primitive charm on display here that rewards the listener to this day.

Finally, this may be a throwaway comment, but could Queen Of Siam be described as one of the earliest death metal releases? Sabine Classen’s vocals would certainly suggest so!

Kreator – Pleasure To Kill (1986)

Kreator – Pleasure To Kill / Flag Of Hate (1988, CD) - Discogs

This precociously vicious shitstorm instantly struck a chord with thrashers worldwide and with Pleasure To KillKreator found themselves leading the way in the Teutonic scene. 

Unhinged to the point of incarceration, Pleasure To Kill‘s track-list borders on a greatest hits selection with the wall of noise maelstrom of “Ripping Corpse”,  the unforgettable “Pleasure To Kill”, the death metal influencing “Riot Of Violence” and the epic and surprisingly complex “The Pestilence” all meriting classic status.

An inspiration to countless bands, death metal and grindcore legends Napalm Death covered “Riot Of Violence” and even they couldn’t match the intensity and ferocity of its original incarnation! 

Kreator altered the German thrash landscape with Pleasure To Kill and mayhem of this calibre would never sound so good again!

Sodom – Obsessed By Cruelty (1986)

Sodom - Obsessed By Cruelty | Releases | Discogs

Sodom‘s rough n’ ready full length debut unleashed a torrent of teutonic thrashing terror amidst the clatter of unrefined proto-black metal….and its influence on the burgeoning black metal scene remains incalculable! 

By no means a ‘good’ album, Obsessed By Cruelty was raw, rancorous and reprehensible and the very essence of underground brutality in ’86. Here was a band who could barely play their instruments and yet the sheer metallic intensity and bloody-minded nature of their performances carries Obsessed By Cruelty – and crushing ‘classics’ such as ‘Deathlike Silence” and “Pretenders to the Throne” – over the line. 

The dirtiest, harshest and most beautifully horrible noise imaginable!

Tankard – Zombie Attack (1986)

Tankard – Zombie Attack (1988, CD) - Discogs

With Tankard’s simple formula cemented from the get-go (a formula that they’ve barely deviated from), their potent brew of light speed thrash, beer, whiskey, parody and partying hard began in earnest on Zombie Attack and the world was introduced to the finest drinking/party thrash band on the planet.

Home to the thrash classic “(Empty) Tankard”, the remaining 9 tracks on Zombie Attack are just as urgent, just as infections and, frankly, just as timeless in 2023.

While they were perceived as a bit of a joke at this stage in their career, it’s important to note that Zombie Attack didn’t just lurch into view, it sprinted straight at you with eyes-bloodshot, teeth-gnashing and pint glasses raised….Tankard had arrived!

Assassin – The Upcoming Terror (1987)

Assassin - The Upcoming Terror | Releases | Discogs

Along with the likes of Exumer, Holy Moses and Vendetta, Düsseldorf’s Assassin were vastly underrated in the late 80’s with the lion’s share of German thrash talk revolving around Kreator, Sodom, Destruction and Tankard.

Admittedly, these crazed speed freaks weren’t quite in the same league as The Big Teutonic Four but they could riff up a frenzied riff storm when they wanted to and their debut, The Upcoming Terror, would prove to be their finest ever moment!

A true cult classic, Assassin got straight to the fuckin’ point on their debut with the likes of “Bullet” and “Nemesis” proving particularly aggressive and while we’re not in technical thrash territory, it’s Assassin’s hardcore punk approach that actually adds another level of dirt to this incendiary album.

Darkness – Death Squad (1987)

Darkness – Death Squad (CD) - Discogs

Severely lacking in anything approaching originality, you’d be forgiven for letting Darkness pass you by, their by-the-numbers thrash attack adhering a little too faithfully to the pioneering sounds already solidified by their peers a few years earlier.

However, give Darkness a chance to shine (ironically) and you’ll experience a debut album that actually hits pretty damn hard with sustained and tightly controlled rage. Opening ‘oh so gently’ with the delicately strummed “Invasion Sector 12”, it’s the building intensity of a distant air siren and the unnerving sounds of bombs decimating the landscape that truly warns of things to come….with all-out-war eventually declared by these leather-clad thrashers!

A bevy of speed-obsessed ragers then follow, careening forth just on the right side of chaos with the likes of “Critical Threshold” and “Staatsfeind” providing the requisite blistering riffs and compulsory head-banging moments.

Deathrow – Raging Steel (1987)

DEATHROW - Raging Steel - Amazon.com Music

A notable improvement over Riders Of Doom (aka Satan’s Gift), 1987’s swift follow-up, Raging Steel, continued down the same hyper-speed path without managing to distance Deathrow from the pack.

Hints of the technically audacious output to come were evident during the clean sections of “Dragon’s Blood” and the abrupt time changes of “The Thing Within” but, primarily, Raging Steel was just a faster version of Celtic Frost with semi-progressive flourishes thrown in for good measure.

This is not a slur, Deathrow were fucking brilliant at what they did but so much more was on the horizon (we refer to the technically astonishing Deception Ignored, of course)!

Highly recommend nonetheless. 

Destruction – Release From Agony (1987)

Destruction – Release From Agony (1987, White, Vinyl) - Discogs

Destruction may have started life as a rough ‘n’ ready blackened thrash band but by the time their third full length album, Release From Agony, arrived in 1987, they’d transformed themselves into a technical thrash act par excellence.

The mad butcher didn’t just strike back with this album, it hacked and sliced its way through the competition and while (originally) the quality of Release From Agony‘s production left a lot to be desired, the likes of “Sign Of Fear” and  “Survive To Die” indicated that Destruction were now operating on a higher level than the majority of their peers.

A thrilling combination of insanely technical riffs and abstract song structures marks out Release From Agony as a true masterpiece of Teutonic thrash……and Destruction would, arguably, never be so wilfully obscure again!

Holy Moses – Finished With the Dogs (1987)

Holy Moses – Finished With The Dogs (2016, CD) - Discogs

On an album that never fails to impress, it was the attitude of Holy Moses that hit hardest; a fearless, punk and grindcore-infused, middle-finger to the face of mainstream sensibilities that set them miles apart from many of their contemporaries.

Each track snapped and snarled but it’s “Current Of Death” that hit hard enough to put you into a coma (Death Angel nicked Sabina Classen’s irrefutably catchy “whoah, whoah, whoah” delivery on 2004’s “Thrown to The Wolves” incidentally) while “Fortress Of Desperation” settled into a groove that’ll have you bangin’ ’till you puke.

In 1987, these dogs didn’t just bite, they sank rabies-infected fangs deep into your neck and tore out chunk after chunk of bloodied flesh; brutal, uncompromising and utterly feral.

Growl. Grrr. Woof!

Also recommended: Holy Moses closed out the decade with 1989’s The New Machine Of Liechtenstein, an album that attempted to hit the same heady heights as Finished With The Dogs…. and very nearly reached ’em!

Living Death – Protected From Reality (1987)

Living Death – Protected From Reality (1987, Vinyl) - Discogs

Savage as all hell, Living Death‘s 3rd full length album was a speed / thrash onslaught that took thrash into ever more extreme spheres of madness, often careening forth in a blitzkrieg of unhinged riffs and Thorsten Bergmann’s unnerving banshee screams.

Perhaps an acquired taste, Living Death seemed to forfeit thrash metal’s accessible aspects for a more unholy approach but they did still find room for some serious showboating! Check out the masterful instrumental “Wood of Necrophiliac”, which finds time to incorporate obligatory 80’s acoustic guitar spliced with some serious chugging riffs, monk-like vocal chanting and an atmosphere which catapults the listener into the creepiest realms imaginable.

Raw, aggressive and unpredictable, this underrated thrash act were arguably never better than on Protected From Reality.

Sodom – Persecution Mania (1987) 

Sodom – Persecution Mania (1987, Vinyl) - Discogs

Sodom‘s second full length album marked a notably drastic change of sound from the clattering black metal of 1986’s Obsessed By Cruelty, to the kind of thrash metal that continues to define Sodom’s persona some 30+ years later.

Opening with the vicious “Nuclear Winter”, Persecution Mania instantly set out its stall as TomAngelripper (vocals and bass), Frank Blackfire (guitars) and Witchhunter (drums) looked to political, social and war themes for inspiration.  This would become a consistent motif as time went on but was arguably perfected at the first time of asking with “Electrocution”, the title track itself and, particularly, “Bombenhagal” delivering the goods as Sodom went about delivering the tightest, meanest, leanest, collection of songs in their career.

However, for all the plaudits and notable progression in maturity, Persecution Mania would be considered Sodom’s greatest achievement if it weren’t for the arrival of the outstanding Agent Orange just 2 years later…..and there’s more on that particular masterpiece further on in this feature!

Tankard – Chemical Invasion (1987) 

Tankard – Chemical Invasion (1987, Vinyl) - Discogs

Tankard are the German equivalent of New Jersey’s Overkill; both bands taking the honour of being the most consistent and productive thrash bands of their respective continents.

Tankard have never strayed from their beer and whiskey soaked path but they are much more than a mere gimmicky joke band and Chemical Invasion is the one album to prove their incredible importance to the Teutonic thrash scene.

Like the mad scientist depicted on the album artwork, Tankard throw everything into their heady brew of intense drumming, barely controlled riffs and histrionic vocals. Seemingly just one more drink away from careening out of control entirely, Tankard’s hellish fury occasionally calms, the open acoustic guitar strum of “For A Thousand Beers” providing ample proof that these guys could play and play well.

Chemical Invasion is an album that demands to be listened to drunk with the room spinning and projectile puke just one more whirlwind head-bang away…true party thrash!

Violent Force – Malevolent Assault Of Tomorrow (1987)

Violent Force – Malevolent Assault Of Tomorrow (2022, Vinyl) - Discogs

Something of a cult curio, Violent Force‘s Malevolent Assault Of Tomorrow deserves to be revered instead of forgotten and it’s high time this agonisingly aggressive and frantic thrash gem was rediscovered.

Opening with the Motörhead-indebted “Dead City”, the album actually improves after this bout of hero worship is finished with. Settling into a groove of their own, it’s on “Sign Of Evil”, “Vengeance And Venom” and “S.D.I” where Violent Force really prove their mettle.

100% committed to thrashing you senseless, their salaciously filthy riffs and demented drumming may be highly reminiscent of comrades Kreator, but Malevolent Assault Of Tomorrow is straight-to-the-face thrashing with absolutely no effort to confound tradition or break new ground. That can be taken as a compliment by the way!

Sometimes thrash should be simple, brutal and without remorse and on their one and only full-length album, Violent Force ticked all three boxes and lived up to their name perfectly.

Angel Dust – To Dust You Will Decay (1988)

Angel Dust – To Dust You Will Decay (2016, Vinyl) - Discogs

To Dust You Will Decay may have signalled a slight change in direction from the speed metal of their debut but Angel Dust were still very much thrashing…. just with a little more nuance. As happy in the company of Helloween as they were their Bay Area influences, Angel Dust were well on their way to becoming a 100% power metal act but, for now, they were power/thrash personified and operating at the peak of their powers.

While the full on power metal majesty of “Into The Dark Past (Chapter II)” was a strong indication of what was to come, it was the likes of “The King” and the title track that thrashed hard and fast and with plenty of grit and determination. While the aggression of old was notably dialled down, in its place was a burgeoning maturity and a more memorable set of mostly melodic songs, with the satisfying chug and soaring solemnity of “Wings Of An Angel” superbly straddling the fine line between full-on power metal and old-school thrash. 

With personnel changes reaping rewards – out went guitarist/ vocalist Romain “Romme” Keymer and guitarist Andreas Lohrum and in came Stefan K. Nauer, Vinni Lynn and ex-Scanner vocalist S.L.Coe – To Dust You Will Decay stands tall as Angel Dust’s undisputed masterpiece!

Minotaur – Power Of Darkness (1988)

Minotaur - Power of Darkness - Encyclopaedia Metallum: The Metal Archives

Shrouding metal fans in nothing but complete darkness was Minotaur, a blackened thrash band capable of nothing but the most hideously raw thrash imaginable.

Minotaur should have gone down in history as one of the proto-death bands, as important to the rise of death metal as PossessedSlayerDeath StrikeRepulsion and Hellhammer. The fact that Minotaur are often not uttered in the same breath is a crime as Power Of Darkness was also at the forefront of changing trends. Hell, they released a single titled Death Metal in 1990…..of course, by then it was too little, too late for Minotaur to truly be noticed!

Featuring a Mille Petrozza-like vocalist in the form of Andi Richwien, his untamed black metal-esque shriek was just a part of Minotaur’s early embrace of unhinged chaos, with the fast and frantic likes of the appropriately monikered “Apocalptic Trials” and “Necromancer” backed by dynamically varied, brutal blasts of untamed musicianship.

An essential proto-death / Teutonic thrash classic!

Necronomicon – Escalation (1988) 

Necronomicon - Escalation | Releases | Discogs

Retaining the necro-sound pioneered by Sodom and Destruction on their early releases Obsessed By Cruelty and Sentence Of Death, Necronomicon’s raw, dirty riffs and barely contained malevolence may not be as well known as The Teutonic Three….but it sure does compete!

Escalation‘s 8 tracks masterfully cave your face in with alarming frequency. “Death Toll”, “…and the Night Will Be Silent” and “Mosh The ABC” ring the tempo changes and even introduce Helloween-esque levels of power metal melody to an otherwise insanely fast and unyielding mix.

“Dirty Minds” is the one track doesn’t quite fit but it’s hard rock stylings are admittedly fun and there’s nothing wrong with writing catchy, up-beat thrash ditties; just ask Tankard!

Lo-fi and frenetic, Escalation remains an absolute blast.

Protector – Golem (1988)

Golem - Album by Protector | Spotify

Easily as heavy (heavier even) than anything released by KreatorDestructionSodom etc at the time, Protector‘s debut album was the sound of the German thrash underground at its most corrosive and most frightening. 

A relentless barrage of hyperactive, hyper-speed death / black / thrash riffs greeted those of us brave enough to embrace this sort of filth and an instant cult classic debut was born. Golem‘s blackened thrash attack was necro-enough to appeal to early Sodom, early Destruction and Possessed fans, and while the likes of Kreator were courting MTV, Protector were keeping the underground flame alive. 

While time has not been quite so kind to Golem‘s relatively rudimentary charms as nostalgia will probably lead you to believe…. it still kicks almighty ass!

Risk – The Daily Horror News (1988)

Risk – The Daily Horror News (1988, CD) - Discogs

Roll up, roll up, read all about it….daft Germans in excellent speed/thrash shocker!

With a pedigree dating all the way back to 1967(!), Risk took the relatively safe gamble of updating their hard rock/prog rock sound originally finessed when they carried the Faithful Breath moniker and went hell for leather with ‘debut’, The Daily Horror News.

With precise riffing and unruly speed, the raw nature of this obscurity may prove to be a shock to those expecting something a little cleaner from a band who had originally played their trade two decades prior. As it turned out, Risk proved more than adept at out-riffing the majority of their peers and seemed to have thrash flowing through their veins; a more cohesive and intelligent late 80’s speed/thrash album you’d be hard pressed to find.

Ridiculous artwork, cracking album!

Sieges Even – Lifecycle (1988)

Sieges Even - Life Cycle | Releases | Discogs

Sieges Even may have gone on to become a more considered, melodic progressive metal act but their debut was a beast of technical / progressive thrash, powered by the almost falsetto delivery of Franz Herde.

Comparisons with Watchtower remain rife but to dismiss Lifecycle as a mere clone of Control And Resistance would be missing the point. This was an era of exploration and of pushing boundaries, which is exactly what Sieges Even were doing from the outset.

Sure, both bands were influenced by the prog giants of the 70’s – alongside the thrash boom led by Metallica – but Sieges Even took everything that much further, splicing the DNA of prog and thrash to create a new, extreme, version of both. The results were extraordinary, dazzling the mind with a series of labyrinthine structures that were brooding, malevolent and practically beyond judgment!

About Chris Jennings (1986 Articles)
I love metal. Always have. Always will. As editor of Worship Metal - a site dedicated to being as positive about metal and its myriad of sub-genres as possible - my aim is to 'worship' metal through honest reviews, current news and a wide variety of features; offering the same exposure to underground bands as we do to mainstream/well known acts. Our mantra; the bands are partners and we exist to serve the bands \m/

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.