There is more to the German music scene than Rammstein, Accept, Oomph!, Lindemann, Doro, Scorpions, and Megaherz. Metal fans will remember Kreator and Sodom from Teutonic thrash metal’s “Big Four,” which extends to Destruction and Tankard. In 2012, Nuclear Blast released a split-EP that contained Iron Maiden and Motörhead covers by these pillars of German metal. As tempting as it can be to play songs like Sodom's “Reincarnation,” or Kreator’s “Death to the World" on loop, sooner or later it becomes advantageous to branch out.
Whether you prefer punk, gothic metal, or extreme metal, Germany will satisfy your musical desires. Germany has its share of eclectic bands from Medieval bands like In Extremo, Tanzwut, and Saltatio Mortis to the off-the-wall Eskimo Callboy. Do you like death metal? Try Necros Christos or the now-defunct Necrophagist. Today, we turn our focus towards German groups that you might not know. Expand your playlist with these 10 amazing bands from Deutschland.
1. Die Ärzte/The Doctors
“Ist das noch Punkrock?” What do you do when punk begins to cause symptoms of boredom? Are you tired of Germany's popular band Die Toten Hosen/The Dead Pants? Die Ärzte/The Doctors are exactly what the physician ordered. This West Berlin trio of miscreants will bring out the "wurst" in you and help you get your party on. The group consists of frontman “Farin Urlaub,” Jan Vetter; “Bela B.,”Dirk Felsenheimer; and Chilean-born “Rod,” Rodrigo González. Members sometimes rotate on instruments and vocal duties. Rod joined the group in 1993 after working with Bela in Depp Jones. Die Ärzte may sometimes come in the cutesy packaging of lederhosen. They may even hit the stage in dapper suits, but these guys are truly hardcore. Whether Die Ärzte are singing about bestiality, fantasizing about being Madonna’s colon, premeditating the murder of Yoko Ono, or mockingly praising Eva Braun's classical profile, the anti-Nazi “Schrei nach Liebe”/“Cry for Love” singers never cease to confound their fans. Should we kill ourselves for the sake of Buddy Holly? Die Ärzte say “natürlich” in the 1985 throwback song “Buddy Holly’s Brille”/“Buddy Holly’s Glasses” from Im Schatten der Ärzte/In the Shadow of the Doctors, the gothic cover of which is an example of German-style trolling. One minute, Die Ärzte are rapping: “Hegel, Kant, Wittgenstein (x2), Heidegger.” The next moment, they are screaming about McDonald’s or even cooing about finding unrequited “Teenager Liebe”/“Teenage Love” at Burger King. Do not be surprised to find a performance of this latter song that features the original bassist, Hans “Sahnie” Runge, dressed up as a woman while Farin sings into a banana. Die Ärzte excel at break-up songs. In “Wegen dir”/“Because of You,” they claim they will starve, because of an ex-girlfriend. A couple of lines later, they reveal that this is because they will have to cook their own meals.
Die Ärzte’s antics are goofy, but when these fine gentlemen have a mission, they mean more than just monkey business. The existential strife in “Nichts in der Welt” from Geräusch/Noise (2003) could even touch the heart of a sociopath. As the narrator’s thoughts move in circles, the chorus repeats: “Es ist vorbei”/“It’s over.” “Living Hell,” which paints a “Van Gogh” perfect world, is the ideal blend of humor and pain. The lyrics crank hysteria up to a fever pitch, and the results are hysterical. The way Farin bemoans the curse of good looks, wealth, success, too much sex, and too little sleep is pure gold. “Das Leben ist zum Lachen da, drum nehm ich Psychopharmaka. Ich brauch nur etwas Ruhe und Einsamkeit.”/“Life is for laughing, that’s why I take psychotropic drugs. I just need some tranquility and solitude.” “Living Hell” hails from Jazz ist anders (2007). The album’s the red, white, and green cover brilliantly depicts a pizza-maker throwing the infinity symbol into the air like a ball of dough. We recommend “1/2 Lovesong,” “Himmelblau,” “Ein Sommer nur für mich”/“A Summer Just For Me,” “Zu spät”/“Too Late,” “Komm zurück,” “Deine Schuld”/“Your Fault,” “Ist das alles?”/“Is That All?” The Corona hit “Ein Lied für Jetzt”/“A Song for Now” suggests that Pornhub and drugs will help us endure the pandemic. music and wanking will help us endure the pandemic. “Wichsen und Musik sind die beste Medizin.”/“Wanking and music and the best medicine.”Die Ärzte will release their new album DUNKEL/DARK on September 24th of this year. In anticipation of DUNKEL, the band has just released the music video NOISE.
Dr. Bela B. steals the spotlight on “Manchmal haben Frauen…”/“Sometimes Women Like…” from Runter mit den Spendierhosen, Unsichtbarer!/Down with the Generosity-Pants, Invincible One! (2000). The gist of this Johnny Cash-like tune is that a repulsive man advises a naïve man at a bar: “Manchmal, aber nur manchmal, haben Frauen ein kleines bisschen Haue germ.”/“Sometimes, but just sometimes, women like a little spanking.” The younger man runs home. Out-of-breath, he breaks the news to his girlfriend, who responds, “Immer, ja wirklich immer, haben Typen wie du was auf die Fressen verdient!”/“Always, yes really always, your type deserves something [like a smack] in the face.” The accompanying video was shot by Olaf Heine. Is this not rock n’ roll’s most kick-ass music video?
Watch the vintage music video for “Ich ess’ Blumen”/“I Eat Flowers,” or simply “Blumen” as it was originally listed on Das ist nicht die ganze Wahrheit…/That's Not the Whole Truth… (1988). In this clip, a man, who might initially be mistaken for Farin, goes mad in a slaughterhouse and meat storage facility. He stains his white coat in the process. To the horror of his love interest, this man becomes infected with a savage hunger for flowers. “Denn für mich macht niemand Tiere tot. Ich leg mir Löwenzahn aufs Brot!”/“Then for me no more animals will be made dead. I put a dandelion on bread.” This anti-animal cruelty video is like Ozzy Osbourne on Opposite Day. In homage to Diary of a Madman (1981), this video might be renamed Diary of a "Mad Vegetarian." Because Bela B. authored this song, he sings this track as well instead of Farin. The 2019 release “Abschied”/“Farewell” similarly, albeit in jest, advises us to let our species die out for the sake of the planet. “Die Elefanten werden uns danken.”/“The elephants will thank us.” Viewers can chose the between the “vegetarian” and “vegan” video versions. Get cooking, and play doctor with Die Ärzte.
2. Farin Urlaub Racing Team
Farin — whose moniker derives from “Fahr in Urlaub!”/“Go on vacation!” — has participated in many projects apart from Die Ärzte. Do you like Die Ärzte’s "Wie es geht"/“How It’s Done” You will love Farin’s four studio albums under the brand of the Farin Urlaub Racing Team, FURT. For some great songs by FURT, check out “1000 Jahre schlecten Sex”/“1000 Years of Bad Sex,” “OK,” “Sonne,” and “Niemals”/“Never.” “Dusche”/“Shower” is a particularly colorful depiction of paranoia, in which a home is anthropomorphized. Farin praises the loyalty of his shower, which remains his only ally as his house wages war against him. This unique hilarity of a song comes with an uber cool, guns-and-shower-hoses music video. Its Psycho ending is a nod to Hitchcock. The mood is James Bond meets Ted Bundy. The role of an emotionally brittle lunatic always suits Farin. His screams echo: “Stirb, Fenster, stirb!”/“Die, television, die.”
3. Nachtblut/Night Blood
Navigating the world of German music can be difficult with all the electronic dance bands like Eisenfunk when in search of something hardcore . Germany is also known for its abundance of goth bands like Meinhard and Blutengel. These kinds of bands tend to make themselves easy targets for haters. In truth, Blutengel, which means Blood Angel, has some great songs like “Lebe Deinen Traum”/“Live Your Dream” and “Asche zu Asche”/“Ashes to Ashes.” Blutengel's founder, Chris Pohl, also fronted projects like the band Terminal Choice, famous for the rebellious “verpiss-dich/fuck-off” single “Keine Macht”/“No Power.” Don't be confused by similarities in name and appearance between Blutengel and Nachtblut. Both darkly-clad bands embrace vaguely related aesthetics with white-blue contacts and heavy makeup, but they are nothing alike in sound. Nachtblut's motto?! “Meine Grausamkeit Kennt Keine Grenzen”/“My Gruesomeness Knows No Boundaries.” The song goes: “Du willst schützen, ich vernichten… Ich will diese Welt, brennen seh’n.”/“You want to protect, I want to destroy… I want to see this world burn.” Formed in 2005, Nachtblut mixes black, gothic, and melodic metal into something like you have never experienced before. If Nachtblut’s music is ever mildly suitable for dancing, it is only in the frenzied Dionysian sense. Nachtblut incorporates elements of folk as well. The song “Leierkinder”/“Lyre-Children,” from Vanitas (2020), elicits comparison to old Europe's “Dancing Mania” phenomenon as chronicled in a text by Justus Hecker. “Leierkinder” details a world, in which we are blind, but happy instruments of a circular fate as spun by God. Nachtblut’s vocalist, “Askeroth,” Athanasios Toutziaridis, delivers the most outrageous dirty vocals a nihilist could ask for. You would be hard-pressed to find an artist with more vocal fire. Askeroth's vocals leave listeners wondering what would happen if Nachtblut released a black metal album. Askeroth was the keyboardist for the black metal band Sons of Seth. Nachtblut’s most popular song is “Lied Für die Götter”/“Song for the Gods,” which is on the tamer side. The addition of a flute really enhances the song. As brutal as Nachtblut is, the band’s coquettish vibes on this music video give the impression of Abbath meets Cinema Bizarre. Oddly enough, Askeroth looks a little bit like a Fabio-gone-dark. Nachtblut’s vanity provides a humorous flourish to music that epitomizes the exactly what metal should be.
4. Die Apokalyptischen Reiter/The Apocalyptic Riders
What do you do when European metalheads greet you with skepticism? If you ever find yourself being interrogated in regard to your musical tastes while abroad, just say that you listen to Die Apokalyptischen Reiter. That will get the steins clinking. “Prost!” Die Apokalyptischen Reiter, founded in 1995, are popular in countries like Russia, which the band has toured multiple times. Die Apokalyptischen Reiter may be metal, but this zany, off-beat Weimar band mixes a variety of influences from folk to jazz. The band released their latest album, The Divine Horsemen, on July 2nd, 2021. Although this 25th anniversary release may be a little late, it was recorded in 2020 as an improvisational experiment. The Divine Horsemen contains a 500-hour jam session that was edited down into 80 minutes. In conjunction with Divine Horsemen, Nuclear Blast, the band's label since 2002, has released videos for the tracks “Aletheia,” “Nachtblume”/“Night Flower,” “Ymir,” and “Tiki” at staggered dates. On the same day as “Aletheia” and the album, Nuclear Blast also released the song “Solaris” by the German technical death metal band Obscura. Der Apokalyptische Reiter have invited Turisas to open for them on tour. Tutisas’ followers may be aware of the German Viking metal group Varg. Zeichen/Sign, Varg’s most recent album, premiered on September 18th, 2020. Fans of Die Apokalyptischen Reiter may also appreciate the Bavarian folk metal band Equilibrium, whose members were “Born to Be Epic,” and the Black Forest-based collective Finsterforst. For now, heed the eschatological warnings of Die Apokalyptischen Reiter’s “Der Rote Reiter”/“The Red Rider.”
5. Heaven Shall Burn
Germany has had its share of Christian bands like Seventh Avenue and Necromance, known for White Gothic (1987). Heaven Shall Burn, on the contrary, delivers something quite different. Heaven Shall Burn is a highly successful outfit of militant peace-lovers from Saalfeld, Germany. Their reign of anti-terror has endured since 1996. At times, this band is reminiscent of As I Lay Dying. Although Heaven Shall Burn is extremely influenced by metalcore, their music also incorporates elements of melodic death metal and deathcore. The group has covered national classics like Sodom’s “Code Orange” and Blind Guardian's “Valhalla.” Although Heaven Shall Burn typically performs in English, listen to the songs “Übermacht”/“Superior Might” and “Die Stürme rufen dich”/“The Storms Call Out For You” to hear Heaven Shall Burn alternate between English and their native tongue. Guitarist Maik Weichert, who has a PhD in law, writes the band's lyrics, which often concentrate on social issues. The band’s members are vegetarians and mostly opt for healthy lifestyles, although there is usually a partier in the lineup. Some fans find novelty in the disparity between Heaven Shall Burn’s progressive messages and their brutal delivery. Other listeners may simply find the form and content to be incongruous. Heaven Shall Burn’s members live by their ideals. Even during Covid-19, the group’s vocalist, Marcus Bischoff, has maintained his job working in a hospital. Heaven Shall Burn and Caliban recorded the joint albums The Split Program (2000) and The Split Program II (2005).
Heaven Shall Burn's name was borrowed from a Marduk album. It is also quite similar to Lamb of God's original name, Burn the Priest, which became the title of LoG's first studio album. Heaven Shall Burn has confirmed that their name is a “political statement.” The debate has been raging as to whether or not politics have a place in rock. The Italian-based deutschrock band Frei.Wild has also provoked ire for their political leanings. The band has been accused of racism for expressing pride in their homeland, South Tyrol, Italy. Fans believe these accusations to be slanderous. “Wir haben immer gesagt, dass wir das land hier von herzen lieben.”/“We have always said that we love our country from the bottom of our hearts.” In “Land der Vollidioten”/“Land of Idiots,” Frei.Wild argues that love of one’s land should not be equated with treason. The song’s lyrics state that the band does not support neo-Nazism, anarchism, Hitler, and so forth. Artefukt is a similar punk-influenced alternative that spreads positivity. Wherever you stand, Heaven Shall Burn’s awesome music speaks for itself. The band’s aim is not to make people agree, but to make people think. As Sartre wrote in Nausea (1938): “In Heaven’s name, why is it so important to think the same things all together?”
Rage has been pumping out heavy metal since 1984. Like Heaven Shall Burn, Rage chooses to perform in English. Drummer Richard Christy of Chuck Schuldiner’s Death and The Howard Stern Show confessed his affection for Rage in an interview for the book For the Sake of Heaviness: The History of Metal Blade Records (2017). 'George “Corpsegrinder' Fisher [of Cannibal Corpse] and I are big fans of the German thrash metal band Rage, and every time we hang out, we blast their album Perfect Man — specifically the song ‘Wasteland,’ which we sing along to at the top of our lungs! I’m sure we nearly blew out Brian Slagel’s eardrums singing the high notes from ‘Wasteland’ that day.” Who can argue with Corpsegrinder?! Fans of Rage may also enjoy the old-school, speed metal band Iron Angel, the roots of which go back to 1980, and the thrash metal stalwarts Exumer. The latter outfit's Possessed by Fire (1986) may sound a lot like Slayer, but the nostalgic sound certainly makes for entertaining listening. Ironically, Exumer would eventually sign with Metal Blade, which produced Slayer's Hell Awaits (1985) and more. Metal Blade has worked with other German metal heavyweights like Brainstorm and Dew-Scented.
Unfortunately, Rage's original guitarist, Jochen Schroeder, has recently passed away.
7. Schwarzer Engel/Black Angel
Schwarzer Engel delivers the Neue Deutsche Härte, “New German Hardness,” sound that non-Germans often crave. This band may seem young, but they have been producing their own blend of gothic, industrial, and symphonic metal since 2007. Their influences include Rammstein, Amon Amarth, Ozzy Osbourne, Cradle of Filth, In Flames, and Dimmu Borgir. The enthusiasm for Rammstein seems quite apparent. What would happen if Rammstein overdosed on chill pills? Something to the effect of Schwarzer Engel would probably be your answer. Much like the next band, Schwarzer Engel’s music is calming. The band’s sound is authoritative, controlled, sometimes staccato. Do not expect to find screaming on Schwarzer Engel’s vocals. Schwarzer Engel’s decision to sing in their native language truly pays off in terms of sound and lyricism. Songs like “Krähen an die Macht”/“Crows of Power” would not work as well if translated into English.
8. Stahlmann/Steel Man
Stahlmann is also a Neue Deutsche Härte group that was established in 2008. Stahlmann remixed a song called “Break Your Heart” for the last group on our list. Stalhhmann is easy listening, chill-out music for metalheads. They have described themselves as a “party band.” Stahlmann combines low-pitched vocals with simple, pleasantly monotonous industrial instrumentals. The group's lyrics can seem pretty harmless in comparison to bands with a similar sound. Their latest album, Kinder der Sehnsucht/Children of Longing was released in 2020. Their latest single, “Gottmaschine,” was released this year. Stahlmann’s members perform wearing silver body paint, which makes them look like something straight out of The Wizard of Oz. Their name and image derive from a Michael Ende novel called Momo or The Grey Gentlemen. You might find Stahlmann on playlists alongside bands like Unzucht, Eisenwut, Hämatom, Erdling, Heldmaschine, Schattenmann, Schlagwetter, Maerzfeld, and the Rammstein tribute bands Völkerball and Stahlzeit. You might also find Stahlmann songs alongside tracks from the more well-known Eisbrecher and the more pop-oriented Unhelig, not to be confused with Eisheilig. While the music videos and overall visual presentations of some of these bands can sometimes fall short, their music is the true measure.
9. Dark Fortress
This black metal band with melodic inclinations is exactly what the type of band that the metal world needs. Established in 1994 in Landshut, Dark Fortress has produced 10 albums with killer titles like Venereal Dawn (2014) and Profane Genocidal Creations (2003). Dark Fortress’ song titles are equally as creative. How about kicking back to “Like A Somnambulist in Daylight's Fire”? Occasionally, this English-language band mixes Latin into their obscurantist lyrics, which contain mythological references and fantastical, science-inspired musings. Venereal Dawn employs languages as diverse as Romanian, Arabic, and Nahuatl. Dark Fortress, however, is not as dark as its name. Even tracks like “Self Mutilation” impart more of a sense of warped playfulness than actual anguish. For better or for worse, Dark Fortress will not temporarily suck your soul and drain your emotions like some other black metal bands. The group’s guitarist “V. Santura,” Victor Bullok, also plays with the Swiss band Triptykon and the Finnish Rootbrain. He has toured with Celtic Frost. Dark Fortress’ current vocalist, German-born Florian Magnus Maier, also known as “Morean,” lives in the Netherlands, plays the guitar in various capacities, has collaborated with a number of other bands, writes lyrics, and composes contemporary classical music. Maier has even received fellowships from the Tanglewood Music Center in Massachusetts. Maier has stated that he seeks to find happiness through music by tapping into the depths of emotion.
The black metal “Satan liebt dich”/”Satan Loves You” group Eisregen has been censored in Germany for highly disturbing material. Once one of Eisregen’s more inventive metaphors becomes lodged in your head, the damage in permanent. Eisregen is a difficult band to pigeonhole. Songs like “Elektro Hexe”/“Elektro Witch” and “Blut saufen”/“Drink Blood” have a “kiddie” feel. What drugs has Count von Count ingested though the bloodstream of a street junkie? Eisregen is currently active. They have performed with the grindcore, death metal Milking the Goat Machine, the band all lovers of animal-fronted bands must hear! Try “Only Goat Can Judge Me” or “Milk Me Up Before I Go Go.” On June 18th, 2021, Milking the Goat Machine and Eisregen released the album Bitterböse/Bitter-Angry. Nargaroth is probably Germany's most important black metal band. Unfortunately, false accusations of racism have marred Nargaroth's reputation. Nargaroth released the popular song “The Day Burzum Killed Mayhem.” Metal fans will understand the reference to Count Grishnackh's, or rather Varg Vikernes', brutal murder of Euronymous, Øystein Aarseth. Nevertheless, Mayhem's “Necrobutcher,” Jørn Stubberud, whom Varg temporarily replaced, claims that he had plans to kill Euronymous himself for photographing the corpse of “Dead,” Per Yngve Ohlin, whose skull and brain bits the latter sent to friends, as confirmed by Marduk’s “Evil,” Morgan Steinmeyer Håkansson, confirmed. Let the redemptive power of black metal live on through Dark Fortress.
10. Lord of the Lost
This spot on our list goes to a band that has been shortchanged several times throughout the years. Lord of the Lost are the gothic metal masters from Hamburg, Germany. Nothing seems to go right for this band. Lord of the Lost was denied travel visas to enter the US in support of KMFDM, also from Hamburg, on tour in 2017. The reasons were bogus. Meanwhile, all tour preparations had been made, and the band shelled out thousands of dollars to try to resolve the issue. On July 2nd, Lord of the Lost released their latest studio album Judas along with the bonus disc The Sorrows of The Young, the title of which is a homage to Goethe. Although Judas was leaked weeks prior to its release on Russian social media, fans alerted the band, and the content was temporarily removed. Lord of the Lost released their debut album, Fears (2010), and have gone on to become prolific. Lord of the Lost's vocalist, Chris Harms, is always finding new side projects. This year, he teamed up for tracks with Powerwolf and Warkings. Chris may have a wonderful voice, but his dirty vocals really slay.
Our top 10 Lord of the Lost music video picks are “The Gospel of Judas,” “Full Metal Whore,” “La Bomba,” “Sex on Legs,” “Six Feet Underground,” “On This Rock I Will Build My Church,” “Drag Me to Hell,” “Afterlife,” “Ruins,” and “Die Tomorrow.” Lord of the Lost has many other great videos like “Priest” and the fan favorites from Thornstar (2018) “Loreley” and “Morgana.” New fans to the band should listen to the deluxe edition of From Flame into the Fire (2014). This was recorded before guitarist “Bo Six,” Borislav Crnogorac, parted ways with the band in 2016. Fortunately, zany multi-instrumentalist “Gared Dirge,” Gerritt Heinemann. and bassist “Class Grenayde,” Klass Helmecke, have remained with the band. From “Kill it with Fire” to “Odium,” there is not a boring track on this album. Let’s not forget “Bitch,” which boasts a brilliantly aphoristic chorus. From Flame into the Fire offers several fantastic remixes like “Blood for Blood (A Life Divided Club Remix)” and the menacing “Eure Siege (Ost+Front Version).” The original “Eure Siege” from Die Tomorrow (2012) features Alexander “Alexx” Wesselsky from Eisbrecher and formerly Megaherz. Doug Blair from W.A.S.P. also makes a guest appearance on From Flame into the Fire’s “I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead.” Some other great Lord of the Lost songs are “Revelation 13:18,” “Prison,” “Doomsday Disco,” and “Credo,” which incorporates text from 1 Corinthians 13. If you think that Lord of the Lost’s material is risqué, keep in mind that the band believes so much in what they do that they have released a reaction video of Chris Harms’ parents watching self-flagellation, prosthetic breasts, an inverted crucifixion, and male dancers dressed as nuns on “The Gospel of Judas.” Humor has always been a central element in Lord of the Lost’s songs. That is why guitarist Pi Stoffers nonchalantly flips through a copy of Dear Evan Hansen in the “Full Metal Whore (Lockdown Version)” video between screams. In the chorus of “In Silence,” Lord of the Lost describe themselves as: “Time travelers disguise.” Their lyrics continue: “May we trip forever.” May Lord of the Lost's future tours include a trip to America.
Enjoy the song “Mein Herz brennt” by another German called Stunde Null/Zero Hour from South Tyrol, Italy: