TANKARD – “VOL(L)UME 14”
AFM RECORDS (2010)
When you think of German Thrash Metal, which are the first three bands that come to mind? I can bet that the vast majority of you would name Sodom, Kreator and Destruction, and the sequence by which these names will be mentioned will depend on personal preference. Much as I also believe that the above mentioned legends deserve to be treated as the Teutonic ‘trinity’ of the genre, I always felt that there are a few more bands which ought to be receiving similar accolades and which, for some obscure reason, have never managed to reach similar levels of popularity. One such band is the Frankfurt am Main quartet Tankard, whose fourteenth (yes, you read right) offering “Vol(l)ume 14” was released a few weeks ago by AFM records.
Tankard always stood out from the rest of the German Thrash Metal scene as the one outfit whose Punk influences have been as important in establishing their sound and style as has classic Heavy Metal. In addition to that, these lads made sure that the fun factor held a prominent position in the lyrical context, as well as in their riffs and melodies. As a result, the vast majority of this band’s albums are characterised by mid tempo beats, simple guitar riffs/melodies and pompous choruses & refrains. Is “Vol(l)ume 14” any different? Not really, and that is not a negative remark, since getting to know this album will be a pretty fast and straight-forward process – and a thoroughly enjoyable one, to boot!
Using your strongest composition as the opening track of the album is a no-brainer really, especially when this song happens to feature a beautiful acoustic guitar intro, an uplifting main riff and a dead catchy sing-along chorus like those of “Time Warp”. What only a handful of bands manage to achieve, however, is to continue providing top quality music after the last notes of the opener finally fade away! In the twin guitar melodies of “Rules For Fools”, Tankard prove to be truly loyal Iron Maiden fans and in “Fat Snatchers” they go ‘back to basics’ by combining simple riffs with catchy choruses. Though known for their beer-worshipping lyrical context, Tankard have also been a pretty political and socially orientated band, as is proven in the four and a half minute “Black Plague (BP)”. The following two compositions “Somewhere In Nowhere” and “The Agency” may not be as mind-blowing as their predecessors, but they still retain the levels of quality fairly high, while paving the way for the brilliantly-conceived, Iron Maiden influenced “Brain Piercing Of Death” whose catchy refrain cannot seem to leave my mind in one piece these last few days. “Beck’s In the City” is an up-tempo riff-orientated piece with hilarious lyrics, whereas the six and a half minute “Condemnation” is a more varied and technically demanding composition – much different from the straight forward, melody-driven “Weekend Warriors” whose anthemic chorus and twin guitar solos provide the closing theme to this very enjoyable album.
Even though there have been a few line-up changes in Tankard over the years, the current group has been together for ten years. How important is that? Well, stability in a band always pays dividends and that has been translated through a gradually ascending career, culminating in the release of “Vol(l)ume 14”. These four Germans do not take themselves all too seriously, but that doesn’t mean that they treat their music in such a way! It takes real talent to create a band that can offer people enjoyment while at the same time challenge them with topics of political and social significance. Do you know many such bands? Please let me know, as the only name that comes to mind right now is Tankard!
Rating: **** (4.0/5.0)
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