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Teutonic thrash metal is a regional scene of thrash metal music that originated during the 1980s in Germany. Along with Bay Area thrash metal, East Coast thrash metal, and Brazilian thrash metal, it was one of the major scenes of thrash metal in the 1980s.

History

It is highly debated on what the first ever Teutonic thrash metal band was. Two key bands stick out in particular, one being Destruction from Lörrach, Germany, and the other being the female-fronted Holy Moses from Aachen. After hearing Venom, both bands soon changed their sound within a matter of weeks to their new and permanent sound. Accept is widely considered to be the main inspiration for German thrash acts. Their 1982 album Restless and Wild, is considered a speed metal blueprint which would have a huge influence on the Teutonic thrash metal sound.

Other bands soon followed. In 1982, the Gelsenkirchen based band Sodom released their first demo Witching Metal independently. In their early days Sodom were however highly influenced by the NWOBHM, to the point they credit being a trio to bands like Motörhead, Tank, Raven and Venom who also featured power trio line-ups. Their style featured raspy vocals, palm muted guitar riffs, and frantic double bass drumming and was at first described as black metal. Only with the release of their second LP Persecution Mania and with guitarist Frank Blackfire's input to move away from their original sounds and themes they became a thrash metal band for good. Essen's Kreator formed and released its debut album Endless Pain in 1985. Destruction would release their full-length debut Infernal Overkill a year later. All three bands would end up becoming the hallmark bands of the scene. Also around this time, the German based SPV records created its Steamhammer imprint label, a label designed to primarily sign metal bands. Switzerland's Noise Records was founded soon afterwards. These two labels would help spread the Teutonic thrash metal scene globally.

Many other bands soon followed. Assassin released its debut record The Upcoming Terror in 1986. Living Death, a previously heavy/speed metal band, began to release pure thrash metal albums around this time, notable for the highly stellar lead guitar work of Frank Fricke and Reiner Kelt. A year later, one of the most distinctive thrash metal bands ever to exist, the mysterious studio band known as Mekong Delta emerged with their self titled debut in 1987. Containing members of bands such as Living Death and Rage, Mekong Delta created a highly classically influenced sound with strong progressive rock influences as well.

Teutonic thrash metal would not only come from Germany, but also from Austria and Switzerland. The biggest band to come outside of Germany that were part of the scene was Coroner, a highly technical and progressive thrash metal band that was noted for having dark lyrics and accomplished guitar work on the part of Tommy "Baron" Veterelli. While not considered a pure thrash metal band, Celtic Frost would grow to be a key member of the scene, and would tour with many bands such as Kreator and Destruction.

By the 1990s, Teutonic thrash metal was considered old fashion for the most part and was not listened to by a broad audience anymore. While alternative rock had made the music look too mild; death metal and black metal had made the music too extreme for most, and power metal bands such as Helloween, Gamma Ray, and Blind Guardian (bands that had been influenced by the thrash metal bands in terms of sound) soon became the mainstays of the German metal scene. Many bands soon split up or changed their sound, resulting in further backlash against the scene. Kreator went in to make their music more melodic with gothic and industrial influences, while Sodom would attempt a death/thrash style for one album and then move into a more hardcore punk influenced sound. Destruction would instead face a period of instability which saw them split with frontman Schmier, releasing a thrash album without him (Cracked Brain), then attempting to go radio-friendly and less "thrashy" with the poorly received The Least Successful Human Cannonball. Meanwhile Schmier would start Headhunter achieving some success with a slew of three power-thrash albums similar in sound to some of the offerings of Rage.

What is notable about the Teutonic thrash metal scene is that it kicked off the thrash metal rebirth movement that continues to this day. Starting in 1999 with Sodom's album Code Red, the teutonic thrash metal movement then began to come back. Destruction reunited with Schmier and released All Hell Breaks Loose in 2000, and Kreator released Violent Revolution in 2001. Other bands, such as Assassin, Holy Moses, and later Mekong Delta would later return and release more albums. Newer bands such as Hamburg's Abandoned and Hannover's Reckless Tide have proved that the movement is alive and well.

Sound

Teutonic thrash metal was noted of being the heaviest of all three thrash metal scenes. Heavily influenced by bands like Accept and Venom, teutonic thrash metal would go on to heavily influence the death metal and black metal scenes that emerged in the following decades with American bands like Slayer. Teutonic thrash typically features fast and heavy music that utilizes down-tuned guitars (sometimes as low as C) as well as raspy and extreme vocals.

Most bands started with satanic and gory themes that would further influence death and black metal, but would later drop these. Sodom would become famous for using themes related to the Vietnam War, while Kreator would use heavy themes of rebellion and violence to define their sound. Some bands also used humor in their lyrics. The Frankfurt based Tankard would become famous for singing about alcoholism and being drunk. Other bands had contemplative lyrics. Mekong Delta would often use metaphysics to influence their lyrics, a theme rarely (if ever) touched by American thrash metal bands.

An essential element of teutonic thrash metal is the heavy use of tremolo picking in guitar solos. Used extensively by bands like Kreator, this simplistic yet effective shred technique would further define the sound of the scene. Detractors claim the heavy use of the technique showed that the bands were incapable of playing more technical and accomplished music. When the scene began to come back, later guitarists would use other techniques but tremolo picking still remained popular. Tapping and sweep picking would later become elements of the newer sound of reemerged bands.

Some of the best drummers of the metal underground would emerge from this scene, with the most famous being Kreator's Jürgen Reil. Reil used extensive double bass and approached blast beat speeds in his drum technique, creating a sound that would influence many death metal bands later on.

List of notable Teutonic thrash metal bands








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