Released: 2004, AFM Records
Hard to believe that Tankard have been cranking out thrash metal albums on a consistent basis since 1986, but it’s true. Hailing from Frankfurt, the band has spent the last 20 years carving out a niche for themselves alongside other longstanding German thrash acts like Destruction, Kreator and Sodom. And if you know anything about the band you know that they’ve followed a consistent pattern over their careers. Essentially the band makes KILL ‘EM ALL inspired thrash metal with punk rock influences and lyrics that often humorously celebrate the “virtues” of imbibing alcohol. On paper that lyrical trademark may feel out of place for a thrash band, but somehow the band has always known how make it work, even if alcohol should be decried in metal right alongside religion. After all, organized religion isn’t the only crutch humankind has leaned on to escape the realities of life, nor is it the only device to have destroyed men’s lives, broken up families and crippled entire cultures (see the Native American culture on any American reservation). That’s a topic for another day though and is far too serious a discussion for an album review of a fun-loving thrash act.
BEAST OF BOURBON (BOB) is a heavy speed-assault of old school thrash metal with an excellent crystal clear production that gives the album a crisp sound. BOB starts with the sonic assault of “Under Friendly Fire” and really never lets up, save for the mid-tempo track “Endless Pleasure” and the final track, a cover song called “We’re Coming Back.” The first track rips both in sound and lyric, as it accuses American fighter pilots of being drugged-up ruthless killers willingly following orders to feed the need for violence. “Slipping From Reality” has a noticeable KILL ‘EM ALL / RIDE THE LIGHTNING vibe to it, especially in the intro. Vocalist Andreas Geremia even sounds like Hetfield in parts, though the vocals have as much punk influence as any song on the album. What really makes the track stand out are catchy, heavy as fuck riffs, some fairly blistering lead work and a stinging solo right around the middle chorus. “Die With A Beer In Your Hand” is a shitkicker with a couple of nice twists: a cool mid-paced intro featuring some nice lead work over a steady riff and a short guitar salute to a funeral dirge near the end of the song.
Lyrically the band still maintains it’s sense of humor, which is most prevalent in songs like “Die With A Beer In Your Hand”, “Dead Men Drinking” and “Fistful Of Love.” You can’t help but crack a smile when you hear lyrics like “our brain cells call for help” and “fistful of love into your poop-shoot.” The album closes with a fairly interesting cover version of a the British punk song “We’re Coming Back.” Though Tankard have always shown punk influences in their sound, the song still feels out of place on such a blistering thrash album. Wisely, the band chose to place the song at the end of the album.
BEAST OF BOURBON is one of my favorite Tankard albums. They’ve been consistently good for a long time, but this is the first album to really catch my ear in years. It’s solid thrash that’s heavy enough to satisfy long-time fans and accessible enough to win the band new ones. When placed in a growing lineup of solid metal albums released this year BOB is strong enough to stand out. It’s no TEMPO OF THE DAMNED, but it sure does thrash a lot fucking harder.
Highlights: Under Friendly Fire, Slipping From Reality, Die With A Beer In Your Hand
Genre References: Thrash Metal, Punk