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Alongside Switzerland' s and Sweden' s , Germany' s were possibly the most influential band to come out of Europe during the 1980s. By taking the hard riffing and minor- key melodies handed down from masters like and , then infusing them with the speed and energy introduced by the burgeoning movement, crystallized the sonic ingredients of what is now known as .

Sadly, just as they were on the verge of breaking to a wider audience - - even flirting with American success - - the band' s meteoric rise was rudely interrupted by internal strife and a string of bad business decisions. These blunders kept them from ever regaining their original momentum, but took their hard- knock lessons in stride and continued to prosper in the international arena on their own terms. More importantly, they remained the benchmark by which most every band is still measured. were formed in Hamburg, Germany, by guitarists and , bassist , and drummer . Originally named and then before morphing into in 1982, they signed with Germany' s own fledgling Noise International two years later. With also handling vocals and the bulk of songwriting duties, the quartet recorded its self- titled debut mini- album in early 1985.

The full- length and the maxi- single followed the year after, and the media were soon buzzing over the band' s - fueled interpretation of classic . Countless fans across Continental Europe were also fast converting to the band' s cause, but remained dissatisfied with his singing ability, and felt needed a proper frontman in order to achieve their full potential. Enter teenage vocalist , whose high- pitched delivery followed in the footsteps of previous banshees like and . The new chemistry proved as explosive on- stage as it did in the studio, and with their classic lineup now intact, were ready for the big time. Returning to the studio in early 1987, the band emerged in May with , a landmark recording that remains arguably the single most influential album to date.

Its volatile combination of power and melody would inspire an entire generation of bands, and transformed into bona fide superstars all over Europe and the U. K. , even making tentative inroads into America at the time. The band toured relentlessly for the rest of the year and into 1988 ( including a lengthy opening stint with ) , but despite this manic work schedule, still found time to record the aptly titled . Released in September 1988, the record was another blockbuster that crashed the U.

Top 30, but its uneven songwriting ( especially from longtime leader ) revealed the beginnings of a major band crisis. ' s watershed performance at that year' s Donington Monsters of Rock Festival proved to be their crowning glory, but for , his dream come true also represented the culmination of his ambitions for the group. Shockingly, the guitarist soon announced his departure from the band he had helmed to the top, claiming that were now too big a beast for him to control. ( He would soon make a fresh start with a new outfit called , which, to no one' s surprise, sounded remarkably like . ) But the remaining members of weren' t about to let their shot at stardom slip away, and after drafting former guitarist , they got right back to work with a sold- out tour of the U. Impressed by the band' s momentum, giant EMI stepped in and offered to sign away from the ever troubled Noise Records, but in doing so, wound up igniting a legal dispute that would sideline the group for nearly two years. Several live albums ( " Live in the U.

K. " for Europe, for Japan, and " I Want Out: Live" for the U. S. ) were released to distract the fans during this hiatus, and the band obtained added support from the mighty management team ( , , etc. ) to boot. Confident that they' d accumulated little, if any rust from their extended layoff, finally returned to action with the oddly titled in 1991. But no amount of EMI or muscle could compensate for the scattered, unfocused songwriting that dominated the album. Furthermore, the band' s quirky attempts at humor had grown so forced that fans weren' t sure what to make of furious anthems with names like the title track and " Heavy Metal Hamsters. " The record bombed in no uncertain terms, as did its even more schizophrenic follow- up, .

Recorded in 1993 by an obviously shell- shocked band, its poor showing only exacerbated growing internal dissension, which culminated with the ousting of both ( off to launch a solo career) and due to drug- related physical and mental health issues. Fair- weather friends EMI and also decided to cut their losses at this time, leaving the shattered remnants of to fend for themselves. Attempting to regroup as fast as possible, brought in new singer and drummer to record 1994' s , a small but determined step in the right direction. Then tragedy struck, when former drummer - - a diagnosed manic depressive whose worsening condition had been partly to blame for his dismissal - - took his own life, throwing himself in front of a train near his native Hamburg. Shaken to the core but as driven as ever, dedicated 1996' s to their fallen friend, and, coincidentally, the album turned out to be the strongest since their glory years, doing much to resurrect their career.

The ensuing tour spawned the double- disc set and confirmed the band' s return to form as major players in the international arena ( in Europe and Japan, they were arguably bigger than ever) . continued to prosper with 1998' s , 1999' s celebratory covers album, and 2000' s , and not even the departure of longtime members and could slow them for long. Now regarded as elder statesmen of Euro- , celebrated their achievements with 2002' s greatest- hits set. This was followed by 2003' s , which introduced new guitarist and featured ' s guesting on drums until a permanent replacement could be found in ( ex- , , and many more) . left the group in 2005 and was replaced by drummer Dani Lble , who appeared on that year’ s critically acclaimed . arrived in 2007, and was followed by in 2010. ~ Eduardo Rivadavia, Rovi

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