Tankard – Chemical Invasion (1987)
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!
Destruction – Infernal Overkill (1985)
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!
Kreator – Extreme Aggression (1989)
With their 4th record, Germany’s thrash giants Kreator finally coupled their frenzied attack with hooks and choruses catchy enough to make even your Great Gran nod furiously along!
With each track on Extreme Aggression maintaining a ridiculously high tempo, the Kreator boys ripped through 9 tracks of Teutonic fury featuring vicious, stabbing riffs and Mille Petrozza’s sandpaper vocals. They even scored an MTV hit with their video for “Betrayer”, gaining them valuable exposure in America; a considerable achievement for music as harsh and unrelenting as this.
Kreator’s second album, Pleasure to Kill (more on that later), may be revered as a death / thrash colossus but Extreme Aggression was the sound of a band arguably operating at the peak of their powers.
Destruction – Release From Agony (1987)
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!
Also recommended: While it really isn’t Destruction without Schmier at the helm, on 1989’s Cracked Brain Poltergeist’s André Grieder stepped up to the mic…..and the results weren’t half bad!
Sodom – Agent Orange (1989)
Bidding a fond farewell to the knuckle-dragging sound of their Obsessed By Cruelty debut and harnessing the considerable progress made on Persecution Mania, Sodom tickled the fancy of the mainstream with their 3rd album, Agent Orange, and the world took notice.
Overnight, Sodom seemed to transform into world-beaters and Agent Orange is an all-time classic thrash album which cemented their place in Teutonic thrash history.
Think of a superlative and it applies to this album; originality, quality, intensity, variety, and technicality all ring true. Still capable of thrashing up a storm it was on the mid-paced chug of “Remember The Fallen” and “Magic Dragon” where Sodom’s monumental progress took form. Revelling in a confidence that allowed Agent Orange’s compositions to breathe, their less is more approach reaped endless rewards with thrillingly expansive dynamics well and truly achieved.
As deadly effective as the title would suggest, Agent Orange stood out in what was a banner year for thrash; to hold your own against the might of Annihilator’s Alice In Hell, Sepultura’s Beneath The Remains, Overkill’s The Years Of Decay and Kreator’s own Extreme Aggression takes some doing….but Sodom proved more than worthy of the challenge.
Kreator – Pleasure To Kill (1986)
How could this genre milestone not be at Number 1!
A landmark moment in thrash history, Pleasure To Kill stands with Ride The Lightning, Reign In Blood, Rust In Peace, Bonded By Blood, Darkness Descends and Among The Living as one of the greatest thrash albums ever recorded.
This precociously vicious shitstorm instantly struck a chord with thrashers worldwide and Kreator 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 frankly, mayhem of this calibre never sounded so good again!