Panzer Squad – “Ruins” (Testimony Records)
Despite their jovial names of Tobi, Svenni & Henni, this ain’t no cuddly bear trio, but steaming black thrashers playing it very much in the old school! Influenced as much by early Sodom as Toxic Holocaust and any d-beat punk, “Ruins” ably lives up to its name for having 13 nasty and brutal tracks – including a cover of Shitlickers ‘Warsystem’ – that will definitely send you into a neck snapping frenzy. Initially founded in 2012 as a five piece from the Osnabrück area of Germany, Panzer Squad have been on the rampage across 2 split releases and even a mini album in 2016, not to mention plenty of sweaty shows, so expect lots of ugliness and filth here! From Tobi’s haunting screams to his frantic guitar, Svenni ably fills in with his deep, twanging bass and completed by Henni’s mad drumming, the band crush and flail through tracks about violence, drugs, insanity and death – well what did you expect. But from the raging bass barrage of opener ‘Extinction’ it’s also clear that Panzer Squad lure and hook you in with some very catchy grooves amid their obvious destruction while Tobi’s roaring vocals bely his fret board talents through his licks and soloing. Chundering aggressively in unison on ‘After The Bombs’, it’s more of a punk frenzy with all the instruments played to combustion while Tobi switches to a more haunting black style although once again having a catchy if intense groove – not to mention an ambient section! Fave track for me was ‘Societal Funeral’, probably the dirtiest track and very much reminiscent of old school German thrash along with some crusty punk chucked in on this massive chainsaw rollicking rollacoaster with plenty of haunting shout outs mixed with sickly drawls – definitely a bestial frenzy although still with rhyming lyrics and catchy rhythmic beats. Despite all their line up changes, not in the least the departure of guitarist Wulle, Panzer Squad keep on rolling and are still as fearsome as ever!