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The Top 15 German Metal Bands Of the 80s

The Top 15 German Metal Bands Of the 80s

# 15 Rage

Rage actually formed in Germany in 1984 under the name Avenger but changed their name to Rage in 1985 after another band was also using the name. The band has had a large album output over the years releasing the following albums: Reign of Fear (1986), Execution Guaranteed (1987), Perfect Man (1988), Secrets in a Weird World (1989), Reflections of a Shadow (1990), Trapped! (1992), The Missing Link (1993), 10 Years in Rage (1994), Black in Mind (1995), Lingua Mortis (1996), End of All Days (1996), XIII (1998), Ghosts (1999), Welcome to the Other Side (2001), Unity (2002), Soundchaser (2003), Speak of the Dead (2006), Carved in Stone (2008), Strings to a Web (2010), 21 (2012), LMO (2013), The Devil Strikes Again (2016), Seasons of the Black (2017), Wings of Rage (2020) and Resurrection Day (2021). Peter “Peavy” Wagner – lead vocals, and bass is the only remaining original member.




steeler german# 14 Steeler (Germany)

The German band called Steeler took the name from the Judas Priest song. They are probably most famous for having guitar guru Axel Rudi Pell in the band, who would go on to forge a solo career afterward.  Steeler released the following albums in the 1980s: Steeler (1984), Rulin’ the Earth (1985), Strike Back (1986), and Undercover Animal (1988). After the break-up of Steeler, vocalist Peter Burtz became the editor-in-chief of Metal Hammer Germany from 1989 to 1991.





# 13 Axel Rudi Pell

German guitar virtuoso started his career with the band Steeler, not to be confused with the American version featuring Ron Keel and Yngwie Malmsteen. Much like Malmsteen, Pell was regarded as one of the new guitar masters during the 80s. Pell released only one solo album during the 80s called Wild Obsession (1989), but his reputation from Steeler was enough to push his name onto many favorite metal guitarist lists. The band still performs today with an ever-changing lineup with Axel Rudi Pell as the main constant




# 12 Grave Digger

This German metal band turned out the following albums in the 80s: Heavy Metal Breakdown (1984), Witch Hunter (1985), War Games (1986), and Stronger Than Ever (under name Digger). They received critical acclaim for the Heavy Metal Breakdown album. They toured with Helloween with the release of their second album, which exposed them to more new fans.  Grave Digger’s style is considered classic heavy metal. The original band members split up and the lineups changed but the band reformed eventually with only vocalist Chris Boltendahl remaining as a constant. Their latest album Fields Of Blood was released in 2020.




Running Wild# 11 Running Wild

German Metal band Running Wild started out with lyrics that revolved around satanic imagery, but in 1987 they helped pioneer the “Pirate Metal” sound with the release of “Under Jolly Roger”. The band concentrated on historical themes, especially around sailing after 1987, and became the Iron Maiden of pirates. They released the following albums during the 80s: Gates to Purgatory (1984), Branded and Exiled (1985) Under Jolly Roger (1987), Port Royal (1988), and Death or Glory (1989).





Sinner# 10 Sinner

Lead by Mat Sinner, this German metal band is often compared to another great metal band, The Pretty Maids.  The band started in 1982 and released the following albums in the 1980s: Wild ‘n’ Evil (1982), Fast Decision (1983), Danger Zone (1984), Touch of Sin (1985), Comin’ Out Fighting (1986), and Dangerous Charm (1987). Mat Sinner would later go on to join the band Primal Fear as bassist and backing vocalist and Sinner still releases new material, their latest album was released in 2019. Originally the band was a much heavier, traditional style metal band, but moved to a more melodic metal sound over the years.




# 9 Bonfire

German band Bonfire started out under the name Cacumen, later changing to Bonfire for the 1986 album “Don’t Touch the Light” which was followed up by Fireworks (1987) and Point Blank (1989).  The band found modest success with their first two albums but were never quite able to break out big in the U.S. They are most often associated with the glam metal scene. The band still exists and has varied lineups throughout the years with guitarist Hans Ziller being the only constant member.




victory# 8 Victory

German metal band Victory released the following albums in the 1980s: (1985) Victory, (1986) Don’t Get Mad… Get Even, (1987) Hungry Hearts and, (1989) Culture Killed the Native. The band was recommended by Michael Schenker to get a deal and they had the former Gary Moore and Ted Nugent singer on vocals. Victory had decent success during the 80s worldwide and once ranked alongside Scorpions, Accept, and Helloween as one of the most popular German metal bands. Victory is releasing a brand new album in 2021.





# 7 Doro

Doro Pesch released her first solo album Force Majeure in 1989, but by this point, she was already well-known on the metal scene from fronting the band Warlock.  Force Majeure helped establish Doro as a solo artist which she still continues to this day.  Over the years, Doro has earned the title the Queen Of Metal by her loyal fans.  Doro has often stated that she never married or had kids so that she could concentrate solely on creating quality rock music.  She has earned many accolades from critics and fans for being one of the few female metal singers to not flaunt her sexuality and succeed on merit and talent alone.





udo# 6 U.D.O.

After Udo Dirkschneider parted ways with his longtime band members of Accept, he branched out with his own solo band. While U.D.O. has released 17 albums throughout its existence, only two of those albums were released during the 80s decade. Animal House (1987) and Mean Machine (1989) were both great albums and fans of Udo’s work in Accept got a taste of the same metal power only a little heavier and angrier in tone. U.D.O. toured extensively with bands like Ozzy Osbourne, Lita Ford, and Guns N’ Roses around the releases of the first two albums.





helloween# 5 Helloween

Helloween released Walls of Jericho (1985), Keeper of the Seven Keys: Part I (1987), and Keeper of the Seven Keys: Part II (1988) during the 80s. It was the Keeper of the Seven Keys: Part I that really introduced the band to a larger American audience. The video for the single “I Want Out” got played heavily on MTV and help drive sales of the album. But this German band was far from done. While known primarily as an 80s metal band, their larger output of albums would actually occur in the 90s and the 2000s. The band recently released a new album in 2021.





warlock# 4 Warlock

Warlock was formed in 1982 and the band’s entire album catalog was released during the 1980s. The band’s albums Burning the Witches (1984), Hellbound (1985), True as Steel (1986), and Triumph and Agony (1987) are considered classics. Warlock featuring vocalist Doro Pesch hit the metal scene in Germany and continued to grow their audience with each new album that they released. The band would find their most successful album to be Triumph & Agony released in 1987. By the end of 1988, Doro was the only remaining original member and she continued creating the same style of music with her solo band simply called Doro. Doro Pesch has been given the nickname “The Queen Of Metal” and has been a direct influence on many female singers that have carried the torch going forward.




Michael Schenker Group# 3 Michael Schenker Group

While not members of the band are German, former Scorpions and UFO guitarist Michael Schenker started MSG in 1979. The band released the following albums during the 80s: The Michael Schenker Group (1980), MSG (1981), Assault Attack (1982), and Built to Destroy (1983).  The band received great reviews and the debut album went all the way to #8 on the U.K. rock charts. Original MSG vocalist Gary Barden sang on the first two albums and again on Built To Destroy with Graham Bonnet (Rainbow, Alcatrazz) handling the vocals on Assault Attack.  The albums were a great vehicle for Schenker to showcase his guitar abilities and helped solidify him as one of the guitar greats of the 1980s.




# 2 Accept

This metal band was highly overlooked in the U.S during their run of great albums in the 80s.  The single “Balls To The Wall” brought them to a larger metal audience around the world, but starting with their self-titled album in 1979, they established themselves as a force to be reconned with. The classic lineup released I’m A Rebel (1980), Breaker (1981), Restless And Wild (1982), Balls To The Wall (1983), Metal Heart (1985), Russian Roulette (1986), and finally Eat The Heat in 1989 which featured American vocalist David Reece and featured a more mainstream sound. However, Udo Dirkschneider would return for several albums before departing for good. The band currently features ex-TT Quick vocalist Mark Tornillo who has been with the band since 2010.




Scorpions# 1 Scorpions

The Scorpions released four albums during the 80s, Animal Magnetism (1980), Blackout (1982), Love at First Sting (1984), and Savage Amusement (1988). While all of them would receive great critical reviews, the band picked up speed with the album “Blackout” in 1982, which was driven by the single “No One Like You”. It was “Love At First Sting” that would finally bring the band the huge international fame that they had been seeking. The smash single “Rock You Like A Hurricane” put the band up to #6 on the Billboard charts and went 3 X platinum in sales. The band is reportedly working on material for a 19th studio album.

About the author

Bobby Caughron

Bobby Caughron is a music journalist and Editor-In-Chief for XS ROCK. He began a life-long fan of hard rock and metal music after hearing KISS as a kid. He is still an avid fan of the 80s metal scene and continues to discover and write about new music in all rock genres today.

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