Germany’s music scene is famous for its club culture and, of course, old-school rock and metal. Think Rammstein, Kreator or every European parent’s favorite rock band—Scorpions. Anything new? Glad you asked. Germany is also home for a diverse bunch of rising artists who are challenging current trends and recognizable archetypes with authenticity, innovation or simply good energy. Check them out below.
1. Edo Saiya
Edo Saiya is channeling the Midwest emo look with his messy hair, a pair of big glasses and a loose T-shirt. Pioneering the sad rap wave in Germany with artists such as Negatiiv OG, Lyran Dasz and Laer Xirtam, Edo’s sonic style does operate within the framework of so-called emo rap. No labels are needed here, though, as he’s fusing a broad spectrum of sounds and naming influences from “Ami-Rap” (aka American rap) and emo post-rock to soul and jazz. All of that makes a compelling combination with Edo’s versatile rapping and singing, ranging from flowy, reverb-induced and Auto-Tune-polished to almost screamo-like.
2. VAN HOLZEN
“Ich bin herr der Welt (I am the lord of the world),” exclaim increasingly desperate and impatient Florian Kiesling’s vocals over speedy guitar riffs and tense drumming in the first track of their 2017 debut LP, Anomalie. Having made a noticeable leap forward in their recent sophomore release both in craftsmanship and production, the Ulmian rock three-piece VAN HOLZEN balance their sound and lyrical themes between straightforward confidence and anxious unease. Catchy riffs, memorable melodies and not-trying-too-hard clean singing add up to a high-powered whole that’s packed with action yet not overly dense.
3. Alice Phoebe Lou
Explore far-away galaxies while a mellow, soft and occasionally raspy soprano guides you through atmospheres of glistening guitars, muted beats, groovy bass and psychedelic synths. Originally from Cape Town, South Africa, this singer-songwriter has already made her mark, an Oscar nomination and over 100 concerts worldwide in 2019 alone being only a couple of her achievements. If dancing on the moon, swimming with your eyes closed or gazing into the sunset sounds like your jam, you’ll love Alice Phoebe Lou. A reflective, intimate gem of alt-pop with indie, psychedelic and jazzy undertones.
Sad themes, positive outlook. There’s definitely underlying brightness in Shoreline’s intense, energetic and melodic punk. Layered with some emo and indie, the punk edge is clearly pronounced here in a gentle way, softened by melodies that keep on playing in your head long after you stopped listening. Heartfelt open-throat singing, energetic drumming, daring chord strokes and adventurous guitar solos create an atmosphere that’s going to feel just right if you like that extra coat of drama to your pop punk.
5. Elm Tree Circle
Emotional vocals, Midwest emo-esque guitar arpeggios, echoes from the golden era of 2000s pop punk, some gentle shoegaze-y vibes… And there you have it, Elm Circle are here to break your heart. Slightly melancholic yet fun, uplifting and energetic, this act are truly worth checking out. Just grab your skateboard and go out… Oh wait, no. Don’t do that. Moving on.
There’s a reason why some of Grafi’s record covers resemble those of DSBM. Exploring his discography, you may experience a similar sense of seclusion and isolation as listening to one of those loner multi-instrumentalists producing music somewhere in the woods or in cold mountains. In his latest single “Neptun,” Grafi carries old-school black-metal feeling through a progressively intensifying trajectory of witch house-like ambients and majestic orchestral buildups (thus, his hoodie of Lingua Ignota in the video). Relaxed rapping and monotonous singing eventually explode into soaring screams supported by blast beats and fast guitar riffs. This is a portrait of a lone wolf upgraded for 2020.
7. Dagger Threat
If blasted on proper volume, this brutal crossover of old-school hardcore, metal, deathcore and djent will blow you away for sure. Headbang-friendly metal passages, mosh-pit-appropriate breakdowns and fiery singalongs provide a powerful emotional release. After dropping their debut LP, Gestaltzerfall, in 2019, Dagger Threat have already shared the stage with stylistically neighboring Code Orange and have yet to be seen with Knocked Loose.
FJØRT’s expansive sonic palette offers a thrilling flight across an amplitude of striking emotional polarities. Meanwhile, Chris Hell’s high-pitched screaming navigates a dynamic spectrum that ranges from lightly melancholic to deeply tragic. In this immersive take on melodic post-hardcore, accelerating guitars and tight drumming push forward into panoramic reprieves where beautiful melodies take center stage.
9. Rope Sect
Member identities? Undisclosed. Where are they from in Germany? Unknown. Instagram, Twitter? Nope. Any sort of video content? Nope. True underground stuff here. It’s a comfort blanket of soothing darkness for anyone who’s into death rock, post-punk, depressive rock, gothic rock, darkwave or doomsday scenarios. Released by cassette and vinyl-only metal labels, Rope Sect’s records are making waves among music nerds across and outside Europe.
10. Rote Mütze Raphi
“Nenn mich bruder und nicht baby (Call me brother, not baby),” Rote Mütze Raphi writes on her first Instagram post in March 2019. Since then, the viral TikTok icon and now internet sensation has gathered millions of spins with her debut single “C’est la Vie,” which just came out this year. The signature look of this 18-year old singer/rapper—a red beanie, baggy clothes and makeup-free face—shines through her social media profiles, leaving just enough room for her effortless flows. She has just the right number of hooks to entrench them into your mind, even if you don’t understand a word she’s singing.