Sunday, June 11, 2017

Tankard - One Foot In The Grave (2017)

There are a lot of likenesses between the American big 4 of thrash, and the German big 4 of teutonic thrash, because even if the sounds are fairly different, we still got 4 different personalities within each group. We got the famous group that steals most of the headlines (Metallica and Kreator), the underdog that always works in the shadow of the headliner (Megadeth and Destruction), the heavier alternative that has a core audience of their own (Slayer and Sodom), and then we have the oddball of the groups, the one that you cannot really take seriously, but still love them no matter what. The Americans have Anthrax, and the Germans have the drunken maniacs known as Tankard.

Say what you want about Tankard, but you cannot deny that they are pretty persistent, thrashing and drinking their way in over 30 years without losing a beat. The quality these guys put out may not be as prolific as in the hey days, but it is still of great quality, and their 17th record is no different, even if the title "One Foot In The Grave" would suggest that they are almost at the end of their rope.

Listening to the title track, it is from a different perspective the band sees it from instead. Yes, they realize that they are not any young bucks anymore, but just because they have reached a certain age, they will still rock out, drink beer, and head bang, with or without any pension or leather diapers (eww...). It is classic Tankard humour at its finest, and while they are not singing a hell of a lot about beer and partying in this record, it still got that gleam in the eye that melts your heart.

I do have to admit though that the Germans are taking on a bit more serious issues in this record, which is not something new per se, but it still feels pretty off. Take "Arena of The True Lies" for example, a fairly laid back track with some neat riffs and interesting flow, talking about how we are more and more engulfed in the internet and its skewed media view. I like it better in the opening track "Pay To Pray", a song about religious cults stealing your wealth, but unlike "Arena...", it delivers a more direct punch and some catchy lyrics (and a nice build up at the beginning as well).

And the band is at their best when they are turning up the speed, heading in head first into the battle. I just love the title "Don't Bullshit Us!", and it delivers what you would expect, a mauler that does not take shit from anyone. "The Evil That Men Display" and the previously mentioned "Pay To Pray" are two other great fast pieces that certainly spices up the album well, and the final song "Sole Grinder" has its great speedy moments too, however I feel like the silence and the... bar chanting(?) at the end takes away a lot from the song, and gives the album a weird ending.

And even if the classic stuff is the ones that works the best, I still hear a lot of interesting new stuff in this album, Tankard is certainly not sitting on their asses and relying on their well used techniques. Guitarist Andy Gutjahr is trying more epic melodies in several places in this record, especially in "Secret Order 1516", a personal favourite of mine that just feels right, with its neat premise, cool instrumentation, and harmonizing chorus. A sure stand out that shows that Tankard is still evolving, even if it is not in a revolutionary way.

Ultimately, "One Foot In The Grave" is Tankard to the core, it is a fun thrash experience that goes perfect together with some friends, and a lot of beer. While this album may not be the most intoxicating one during the German's massive career, it definitely serves its purpose, holding a quality that is quite astonishing considering how old these guys really are. They may be close towards being buried, but be sure that they will keep on rocking and drinking until Death himself knocks on the door, telling that it was the salmon mousse that killed them.

Songs worthy of recognition: Don't Bullshit Us!, Pay To Pray, One Foot In The Grave, Secret Order 1516

Rating: 8/10 Sole Grinders

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