DEUT SCHL AND DOMI NATI ON!
MAYBE IT’S SOMETHING IN THEIR WATER, BUT THE GERMAN METAL SCENE HAS A HISTORY OF PRODUCING RIFFS AS LONGSTANDING AS THEY ARE BRUTAL. EDGUY, BLIND GUARDIAN AND ACCEPT, WHO ARE ALL ON THE VERGE OF CELEBRATING BIG BIRTHDAYS, HAVE BEEN AROUND LONG ENOUGH TO
“WHEN YOU SEE HOW MUCH YOUR MUSIC TOUCHES THEM - THAT’S PRICELESS.”
Ah, Germany: the land of pretzels, perfect beer and plenty of heavy metal. Where legions of headbangers, clad in black from head to toe, spend all summer roaming between an abundant number of festivals, and genre‑defining bands remind everyone why the country’s music scene is held in such high regard. So many significant outfits – including Edguy, Blind Guardian and Accept – grew out of small towns or cities at a time when the world was turning most of its attention towards riff‑masters in England and the United States.
While the odds weren’t necessarily against them, they weren’t exactly stacked in their favour either. Despite it all, these legendary bands have reached veteran status, and are about to celebrate some significant milestones. Edguy – the fun‑loving metallers that came together at a high school in Fulda – have just hit 25 years. Blind Guardian – one of the pioneers of power metal born out of Krefeld – are turning 30. And Accept – the band that formed before heavy metal was even a term – are about to celebrate their 40th birthday (including a hiatus or two). On occasions like this, our old friend Nostalgia has a tendency to take people back to their childhood or, in this instance, the early days of the German metal scene.
“There were a whole lot of people. There was a pub that we used to hang out in and we used to go to concerts together,” says Marcus Seipen, excitedly recounting youthful days in Krefeld before his career with Blind Guardian took off. “I remember when Metallica came here for the MasterOf
Puppets tour – we went there with something like 20 cars which were all full, went to the gig and then went back to the pub and celebrated. And I’m still in contact with all those people. We have a reunion party once a year.”
Fulda wasn’t all that different, according to Jens Ludwig from Edguy. The city had a small, healthy scene, but a high school‑esque attitude lingered around it. “There were a few bands around who were organising and exchanging gigs, but we were the newbies,” he recalls. “Nobody took us seriously until we started to record our own music. Then people were kind of proud, like, ‘Hey, I’ve known those guys from the beginning,’ and all that stuff.”
But Solingen? That was a different story. It had metal – in fact, there were young people making music all over the place. But Accept’s mainstay guitarist, Wolf Hoffman, believes it was a scene “that grew out of necessity.
“Most people think of Germany as having alps, Bavaria, Munich, and Hamburg – all these beautiful places,” he explains in a deep, gruff tone. “Solingen was a working class environment with lots of factories – it was sort of the armpit of Germany. Everybody had a band; I think it was our escape from the grim reality. Meeting five times a week, at least, gave us something to do.”
Regardless of their background, all three bands shared the same dreams – play metal, make it to the big leagues and see the world. Fast‑forward through years of slogging it out in small venues, summer jobs to buy new equipment, and bog‑standard $50 guitars that sounded about as good as a shoebox with strings, and you’ve got three bands that etched themselves into German metal history. “I remember doing odd jobs at Bayer chemical company for weeks, and working all through the summer months just to earn enough to buy a new instrument,” Hoffmann adds. Clearly, there was a demand for homegrown bands to compliment the flow of artists rolling in from England and the USA.
Accept became known for their straight up, no‑nonsense classic metal, reinforced by weighty that filled their fans with an air of explosive power. Even their new record, RiseOfChaos, takes most of its cues from the current, chaotic state of the planet, although Hoffman insists that they’re merely observations. “We’re not trying to teach people or be too political in any shape or form,” he explains. “But we don’t want to write about bullshit because we have a chance to express something meaningful. We’re not politicians; we’re not doing anything of real significance; we’re just making f***ing metal and having fun doing it!”
Though the impending anniversary may be on his mind, Hoffman just sees it as the inevitable passage of time. He’s just blown away by the fact that Accept are still releasing records after so long. “It’s almost like giving birth to 15 children,” he laughs.
There’s still some fun to be had when walking down memory lane, of course, as Edguy found out when they looked back on their career while putting together their expansive 25th birthday compilation,
Monuments. The colossal collection includes classic tracks, deep cuts, live videos, a photo book and even a handful of new tracks that neatly map Edguy’s career. A significant part of the process was finding photos and stories that represented their refusal to follow the status quo.
“There were been some aspects where we were coming up with ideas and the record label said, ‘You can’t do that in a heavy metal band,’” Ludwig says, chuckling again, “Like the cover, showing the band as superheroes in comic‑style artwork. But we always said, ‘Why not?’ and the only answer was, ‘Well, because heavy metal people have to be serious.’ But we still did it, and most of the time it paid off.
“We had fun playing shows, and we had fun being together, so we didn’t see why that shouldn’t be an aspect of the band,” he adds, before reluctantly opening up about Edguy’s earliest
attempts at fashion, when pressed about the compilation’s photobook. “There were these trousers at the very beginning, all neon with black combined... Everybody did things in their early years that might be embarrassing, but they make us what we are today.”
While it’s amusing to think of what could have been had Ludwig stuck to his fluro-clad roots, the final iteration of Edguy’s style was a little more fashion-forward. Frankly, they’re probably better off with the way things wound up, especially since they never abandoned the sense of fun that made them so intoxicating in the first place.
Each band has left their mark on music history. Words like ‘important’, ‘significant’ and ‘groundbreaking’ are often thrown around with them, and rightly so. But the crown for hardcore fandom? That would have to go to Blind Guardian. That’s not to say Edguy and Accept haven’t built up a cross-generational army of dedicated followers, but it’s hard to compete with a group that can bring their audience to tears at every show.
“The song ‘Lord of the Rings’ seems to touch people in a very intense way,” Sepian explains when discussing Blind Guardian’s new live album, BeyondThe
Spheres. “Whenever Hansi [Kürsch, lead vocals] announced it would be the next song, there were people bursting into tears. Just talking about it, I get goosebumps again.” Even Sepian wasn’t immune to the moment. Night after night, his eyes welled up with the fans as they unreservedly poured themselves into the song. “When you see how much it means to them – how much your music touches them – that’s priceless,” he adds. “Nothing compares to that.”
Veteran bands tend to see these little rituals grow outside their control – the longer they’ve been around, the more engrained they become. It’s things like impromptu sing-alongs to riffs in staple songs, or walls of death that need no direction – you know a band has truly made it when fans know exactly what to do without following commands.
And that’s not uncommon in good old Deutschland. Hell, it’s the main reason why these guys are all celebrating big birthdays this year. Sure, Edguy, Blind Guardian and Accept worked hard to build solid reputations early on, but that sincerity in their mutual respect for everyone on and off the stage, and their work to help carve out a distinctly homegrown scene, ensured their longevity. So here’s to their 50th birthdays! Sounds crazy? Maybe elsewhere, but spending half a century making music with the same group of friends doesn’t seem so far-fetched in Germany.
“[METAL] WAS OUR ESCAPE FROM A GRIM REALITY.