1. Accept, “Fast As a Shark”
From: Restless and Wild, released in 1982.
German band Accept (since 1976) were influential on many metal bands in the 1980s. Their song “Fast As A Shark” set the template for the speed metal genre, which bands like Helloween, Blind Guardian and Grave Digger were to adopt.
2. Accept, “Balls to the Wall”
From: Balls to the Wall, released in 1983.
Balls to the Wall is the first Accept album aimed deliberately at the US-American market. It is more commercial and polished than the rawer proto-metal they played on their influential earlier albums Breaker (1981) and Restless and Wild (1982).
3. Grave Digger, “Fire in Your Eyes”
From: War Games, released in 1986.
Grave Digger enjoy cult status in Germany nowadays. Their first two albums Heavy Metal Breakdown (1984) and Witch Hunter (1985) are considered classics. After selling-out with their third album Stronger Than Ever (1986), released under the name Digger, Grave Digger returned to their earlier style on War Games (1986). Having learned their lesson, Grave Digger have stayed true to their initial raw and traditional style of heavy metal until today.
4. Helloween, “Walls of Jericho/Ride the Sky”
From: Walls of Jericho, released in 1985.
Helloween’s first studio album Walls of Jericho (1985) put Central European metal on the global metal map. Some consider it as the starting point of “European metal” and the power metal genre.
5. Helloween, “Helloween”
From: Keeper of the Seven Keys Pt. 1, released in 1987.
Helloween’s double album Keeper of the Seven Keys is the highlight of Helloween’s discography. It was widely acclaimed not only in Germany but in the English-speaking world. At the height of their success, Helloween were compared to the likes of Iron Maiden. Keeper of the Seven Keys part one is the first Helloween album with renowned singer Michael Kiske, who replaced Kai Hansen, allowing him to focus on his guitar playing.
6. Helloween, “I Want Out”
From: Keeper of the Seven Keys Pt. 2, released in 1988.
The second part of Keeper of the Seven Keys is the last of the classic Helloween albums with guitarist and songwriter Kai Hansen. “I Want Out” expresses Hansen’s dissatisfaction with the band and foreshadowed his departure from Helloween.
7. Helloween, “Heavy Metal Hamsters”
From: Pink Bubbles Go Ape, released in 1991.
Pink Bubbles Go Ape is Helloween’s first studio album without Kai Hansen and with new management and producer. The significant change of style was not received well, resulting in the album selling only a fraction compared to Keeper of the Seven Keys.
8. Running Wild, “Under Jolly Roger”
From: Under Jolly Roger, released in 1987.
Running Wild (since 1979) are one of the oldest and most influential metal bands from Germany. They belong to the pioneers of the subgenre of “pirate metal”, a style they kept throughout their career.
9. Running Wild, “Black Bart”
From: Rapid Foray, released in 2016.
Running Wild have stayed true to their initial style of traditional, pirate-themed heavy metal. Their latest studio album hardly differs from their early outputs, much to the enjoyment of their longstanding fans.
10. Thunderhead, “Young and Useless”
From: Classic Killers Live!, released in 1994.
Thunderhead differed from many of the German metal bands of the 1980s and ‘90s because of their US-American singer Ted ‘Bullet’ Pulit. While the less German sound gave them an advantage, their imitation of US-American hard rock and metal proved less popular over time, causing the band to split up in 1999.
11. Victory, “She’s Back”
From: Don’t Get Mad… Get Even, released in 1986.
Victory are another German hard rock / heavy metal band who benefitted from a native English-speaking singer, the US-American Charlie Huhn. Just like their fellow Hanover rockers Thunderhead, their copy of American bands such as Guns’n’Roses brought them considerable success in the 1980s. While never having enjoyed the same level of success as their famous role models, Victory had some degree of popularity and attention in the rock and metal press in Germany.