Review by Rick Ossian
Having last reviewed Tankard in these very pages (R.I.B., 2014), I am somewhat familiar with these Teutonic terrors already. Tankard hail from Frankfurt and have been toiling in the thrash rock territory for nigh on 35 years now. These beer and thrash metal hooligans have to their credit 14 studio LP’s, two compilations, two DVD’s and a live LP. They will be at Metal Frenzy Fest in June and July, featuring many other metal stalwarts such as Rage, Vader, Destruction, Amorphis, Stratovarious and Fleshgod Apocalypse. Their ranks include Gerre on vocals, Frank on bass, Olaf on drums and Andy on guitar.
Since the last time I reviewed them I had sort of a weird idea. I assigned a brand name of a beer to each tune, just as sort of a fluke, being it was Tankard and all. Well, this time out I was just going to go with light (pilsner), or ale, or a dark brew to help describe these musical minions. Seemed like a good idea at first – then I realized each song was, indeed, a darker brew!
Take the first track up, for instance. Pay to Pray is fast and heavy as fuck. We are in Riff City here, my lovelies, and things are tough, like a street gang. Even the vocals are more of a throaty shout than anything else. They get the job done, people. They have this shit down.
Meanwhile, on Arena of the True Lies, we have another heavy uptempo number. I loved the sound on this number, by the way. Normally I don’t get bogged down in semantics, but this is the aural equivalent of a jack hammer or buzzsaw with just a touch of studio polish. Great stuff, and they throw in a couple of quick guitar solos to boot!
Don’t Bullshit Us! gets at least five cool points just for the title. It should probably also get points for being Super heavy as fuck. I know I probably curse too much and probably use the word HEAVY too much, but other better words admittedly fail me at the moment! This is a wow moment here – a no-holds-barred onslaught on the senses, with an aggressive attitude, a nice guitar piece, and that stop-time on a dime dramatic shift stuff that I’m always on about.
The title track, by slight contrast, is also a very cool piece, with one of those foreboding intros that give you gooseflesh if done just the right way. It is also super fast thrash, which seems to be becoming a pattern for these blokes… if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?
Syrian Nightmare, for which Tankard have already released an official lyric video.
This is another really heavy tune, with lots of shredding plus a nice guitar bit right out of the box. This one is kinda proggy – well, there’s some noodling going on. Nothing to get too excited about. This sounds like Hell on Earth. The guitar part makes me wonder if things are getting a bit formulaic. I would say perhaps just ever-so-slightly. Again, I’m not going to worry about that. No big deal and not really significant to our purposes here.
Northern Crown features some nice leads and is full of dramatic heavy stuff, including the obligatory guitar solo.
Lock Em Up! features more of the stop-on-a-dime dramatic time shifts and complicated arrangements. There is more heavy riffing and more guitar soloing.
The Evil That Men Display is a slight alteration in proceedings. It begins life with the threat vocal intro, then it’s super slam thrash from that point on. So, not that much different, but still, change is change!
Secret Order features a violin intro, of all things! There is also some vocal chanting (monks) during the chorus. This is a slam jam at about a minute in, really fast and very heavy. I would venture to call this historical metal. Not bad at all. There is also a violin outro.
Sole Grinder is another Heavy as Fuck/Riff City adventure. I would also use my colleague Dr. J.’s S.F.B. here. If you haven’t heard, S.F.B. refers to the Super Fucking Bad-Ass content of the tune!
Summing up briefly, Tankard’s latest is a no-brainer. If you like beer, and you like thrash metal, there is a good chance you will like Tankard. Check them out!