Boo, Tankard! You’ve all seen them, heard them and didn’t find them
funny – and by the way, why are they even still around? Well, well, Mr
Specialist… I tell you why: Their first couple of albums are what
cemented their reputation and put them into the German Big Four, albeit
at a perceived last place, behind Sodom, Kreator and Destruction. It’s
only too understandable that their very own Teutonic Thrash classics
tend to be forgotten, taking into account two decades full of mediocrity
with occasional highs and lows. Still, people seem to give them break
after break. The reason is, they were downright good after trying themselves out with some not exactly fantastic demos. The debut “Zombie attack” is the first testimony to that.
7. “Zombie attack” shows the band at a very basic,
unfiltered but heavily punk-influenced thrash stage where songs follow
pretty a standard verse-chorus-bridge structure. Doesn’t matter much
though, as the energetic, constantly fast-paced delivery doesn’t really
give you much time for thought about when the next complex change into a
6/8 meter might occur. Sure, some songs are a bit more anthemic
(”(Empty) Tankard”), others a little more anarchic (“Alcohol”), but
there really isn’t much to dissect. This is a band straight out of their
practice room. And to frame it positively: there isn’t much to complain
7.5. Harris Johns sat behind the knobs on this one,
as with basically every other Noise Records thrash album of the era.
Obviously he knew what he was doing. The guitars are comparably thin and
clearly separated from the bass, but make up for it by a thick garage-y
distortion that lends them a nice, dirty finish. Together with the flat
but saturated snare and kicks – the latter of which could be a bit
higher up in the mix – the whole affair has a great lo-fi vibe to it,
which does not translate to “shitty” here, not in the slightest. Still,
the overall levels are obviously a bit low for today’s standards. I do
not care too much about that, though – until I listen to something else.
7.5 Our dynamic duo of Bulgaropoulos and Katzmann
play a loose and punk-rooted style with lots of open riffing and the
occasional Ramones three-note chorus riff, however enriched with thrash
elements like hammer-ons, palm-muting and so forth. That mixture
obviously suits a thrash debut perfectly. The riffing may be simplistic
yet skillfully done, and behind the snotty delivery lies a tight
performance. The goal here was to play fast and it’s met on all accounts
with a ceaseless riff barrage, which gives the album quite the
relentless feel – it just never lets up. Sure, the solos are a bit daft
(though not badly played) and probably included for the sake of being
there, but they are placed well in the mix so they at least don’t sound
out of place.
8. Blessed with a great tone somewhere between
Danny Lilker and Ron Broder of Coroner, it doesn’t even matter too much
that Frank Thorwarth basically follows the guitar tracks. Actually, bass
is almost prominent enough to warrant the statement that the guitars follow it. Without the bass as it is, this would probably sound thin and flimsy. Well, it doesn’t.
9. Mr Geremia is an absolutely great thrash singer. His style isn’t varied at all and his range reaches from normal to a little higher than normal,
but his raspy, throaty high speed shouts just work perfectly for the
band. He doesn’t attempt anything out there like Schmier’s high-pitched
catastrophes in early Destruction, he simply goes all-in in one
direction, and it works fantastically. The “th” might need some
practise, but we are ze Germans and zat’s good zo. Oh yeah, and of
course there are gang shouts! As you know, those make even the most
ridiculous line sound bad-ass and are an almost mandatory element for
any score above 8. Good shouting there, gang.
8. Not only did Oliver Werner sport the nastiest
hairdo of them all, he also propelled the band relentlessly with
technically basic yet well flowing drumwork. On very few occasions a
little doublebass is put to use, but don’t go looking for any out there
fills or transitions, just enjoy the straightforward, hard-hitting
thrashing of a kit.
10. Pure gold. It’s easy to spot where these guys
got their influences from, for almost every topic is blatantly adopted
from what the Bay Area greats shat out two years before (including a
line straight from “Whiplash”). There is practically no filtering or
alteration, so “slang” and idioms picked up somewhere are used
frequently – however embedded in otherwise terrible writing and
language. Tankard have a reputation for dealing with alcohol
exclusively, but on “Zombie attack” only two tracks actually fit that
description, the rest is what violent scenarios some ~18 year old German
could come up with:
1) Poison, poison!
2) Acid deaaass! Acid deaaasss!
3) Chains, chains (in your face)
4) Zombie attack! Zombie attack!
…you get the pattern. This was how all the US bands wrote metal, after
all – or wasn’t it? Whatever. Except for two variations, every chorus
just goes Song title! Song title! (x4 – 10) and what’s in
between is so retarded and crude, you just have to love it. An
especially important issue discussed at length is the metalhead hustle
against posers and “Poppers”, Germany’s 80s version of Chavs/Preppies:
Die in blood and pain tonight
never ends the metal-fight
We see the heavy choppers we know
they kill the posers, dieeee!
And of course, Andreas Geremia tried to get some kind of social
commentary / political stance into his songs, and that’s where things
just get out of hand:
Bombs of destruction threaten our world
They say: We need ‘em for defending
Millions of children must hunger therefore
They are wiping out our whole planet
In a nutshell: It’s hilarious to observe what a bunch of teenage
metal fans took out of their idols’ work back in 1986 in a still
genuinely un-ironic way. Of course it’s shit. That’s exactly why it’s
3. This has always been ugly as all Hell, but they are actually still using it. ‘A’ for dedication, ‘D’ for artistic execution.
5. As crazy as it may sound, this was done before
http://www.globaldomination.se/class666/exodus-fabulous-disaster – it
has more going for it in terms of “meaning”, with all the horror figures
sitting around the Paul Baloff lookalike (it’s a girl, actually), but
in the end it looks rather bland.
4. It’s got nothing that I’d expect from a
re-release. Whatever though, the 2011 Sanctuary edition is so cheap,
I’ll have to live with a booklet only containing lyrics, 2 pictures and
If you know Tankard as the often half-assed sounding troupe that try
to recreate what they once were, do the math and you’ll find out why
they are so backwardish: Their old shit rips, and no “better
production”, heavier sound or whatever can bring that special something
back that permeates, first of all, “Zombie Attack”. If you have not
heard this or the two more refined albums that followed it, don’t judge
Tankard just yet.