Tankard – “One Foot In The Grave” (Nuclear Blast)
One of the ‘Teutonic 4’, you knew even back in the 80s that with a name like Tankard, these guys were definitely different to Destruction, Sodom and Kreator! Indeed, with a decidedly different outlook to life i.e. drink n be merry, Tankard’s brand of beer thrash was soon making its mark among the thrash hordes of Germany, playing to a national past time, while more than able to kick it, at least in speed and aggression with their peers, if not in their grimness. From their “Zombie Attack” debut in 1986, Tankard have been consistent in their releases and even more so in their touring, celebrating their 35th anniversary with this 17th album – incredible in itself! Still with school classmates Andreas ‘Gerre’ Geremia on vocals and bassist Frank Thorwarth, the band’s playing certainly hasn’t slowed, in fact, its just as fast and hammering as before, but meaner with vicious grooves and catches that hook you in easily – not to mention irresistible thrash beats – all over the 10 numbers here, so I dare anyone to still be tapping their big toe after the first number! Lyrically, things have gotten more sophisticated as you might expect given the band’s maturity and being well traveled that’s reflected in the socially conscious ‘Lock ‘Em Up!’ or the obvious ‘Syrian Nightmare’. That said, the orchestral intro to ‘Secret Order 1516’ implies something epic, yet ironically it might be the sole song about beer here, although guitarist Andreas Gutjahr certainly gets to show his prowess, as does his extended solo on ‘Arena Of The True Lies’. If you yearn for the truly old days, then the likes of ‘Don’t Bullshit Us!’ or ‘Sole Grinder’ will certainly do it for you with their catchy bass / drum rhythmic beats and razor guitar work. The production on this album really makes a difference here, allowing all the instruments to be heard and while Tankard isn’t a technical band, the intensity of their material and its addictiveness can truly be felt here with the great sound. While their ‘Teutonic 4’ peers may have come and gone onto bigger and better things, Tankard can be counted on to be the stalwarts of that original tag. Their name says it all really.