The alcohol-driven melodic thrash metallers Tankard are back with what I believe to be their best album. I didn’t know of their existence until they signed a multi-album deal with the world’s best and most respected record label, Nuclear Blast (which I happen to follow very closely). Due to the slightly weird artwork, I initially let first impressions and prejudice get the better of me and I decided to wait on this one. But when I looked the band up on Spirit of Metal and was surprised by the 740+ members that had admitted to being fans of Tankard! After doing a bit more research, I discovered that these guys are not only one of the most famous European thrash metal bands (along with Kreator, Sodom, and Destruction), but are also one of the biggest thrash metal bands ever!
Tankard is one of the thrash metal bands that still sticks to the melodic old school thrash sound from the 1980s rather than converting over to a MUCH heavier and faster sound like most of today’s long-lived thrash bands have done. A lot of you know that I’m a HUGE thrash metal fan (my favorite being Havok), but I can also be pretty picky when it comes to all things thrash metal. The reason why I can be so picky is because of the vocals. Because most of these vocalists are yelling with their natural voice (as opposed to doing full-on screams or growls), if a vocalist doesn’t have the right sound, they can irritate me to death. This is the reason why I’m VERY picky with rap, because it’s not singing, and it’s not growling/screaming, it’s the natural human voice. And let’s be honest, regardless of whether the music is good or not, we’re not going to listen to a band that has a vocalist that we can’t stand. I know that different people have different tastes because even the music is good in almost all of these bands, it’s not long before Megadeth, King Diamond, Mastodon, and Limp Bizkit get on my fucking nerves and which is why I rarely (if ever) listen to these bands.
The vocalist for Tankard (who has an odd obsession of showing off his slightly enormous beer belly) isn’t one that bothers me because he has some roughness to his voice. When it comes to thrash vocalists, I like the ones with really rough vocalists (an extreme example being one of my favorites, Rob Dukes, who is pretty much borderline screaming). And then you’re going to come up to me and say “well what about Slayer?? Tom’s voice isn’t super rough! Why can you stand to listen to THEM?” and my response will be BECAUSE IT’S MOTHERFUCKING SLAYER, THAT’S WHY! Whenever I say this kind of stuff, people always like to find counterexamples to lower the validity of what I just said. Yes, I know that Dave Mustaine’s voice can be pretty rough sounding, but that’s not why I dislike his vocals, it’s just because the sound of his voice gives me that weird subliminal impulse to give myself a paper-cut to the eyeball.
Although Tankard is, in fact, melodic and that they don’t play the traditional Slayer-style where the guitarists and bass tremolo-pick low power chords and the drummer does seemingly constant double-kick, they can still be pretty damn heavy. You can tell in the recording that in many of the songs, the drummer is hitting the drum set as hard as he fucking can, which adds an immense amount of crushing blow to the sound. In songs like Witchhunt 2.0 and Not One Day Dead, the fact that the drummer is playing SO FUCKING HARD and with an impossible amount of energy is what gives these songs their heaviness. Listen to any one of those two songs and try to block out the drums and focus on the guitars, if you do this, you should find that the guitarist is playing melodic riffs! So if you have that and put the drums in, but with less intensity than Olaf, it would sound pretty fucking weak to thrash metal standards.
If you want a NEW “old school” thrash record, this is what you need to have. German thrashers Tankard broke the 30 year mark by releasing their best album since The Meaning of Life. I would recommend this to ALL thrash metal fans and to anyone looking for a more groovy and melodic side of the genre. This album gets 17/20.