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  TANKARD NOT CALLING LAST ORDERS DESPITE HAVING 'ONE FOOT IN THE GRAVE'
Tankard: 'One Foot In The Grave'
Out Now: (Nuclear Blast Records)


johnny main
Words: Johnny Main


tankard

Tankard have been around since 1982 and have been consistently releasing albums since their 1986 debut, 'Zombie Attack'. It's not unfair to say that the band don't take themselves too seriously and that they do enjoy a beer (or five) and writing songs about drinking beer. It'll come as no surprise then, that their seventeenth release, 'One Foot In The Grave', doesn't radically change this formula (or should that be ingredients!) – and for that, I'm more than happy, however, it's not all fun and games as the band take a rare trip into the more serious side of life in the 21st Century.

Openers 'Pay To Pray' and 'Arena Of The True Lies' are standard bombastic Tankard numbers and show that the band have lost none of their grit. The later especially is a fast-paced number with a catchy chorus but the guitar solo, courtesy of Andreas Gutjahr, is a rather more sedate affair than you'd expect instead of being an out and out shredding solo, and it adds a bit of extra texture to the number that otherwise might have been lost.

Title track 'One Foot In The Grave' may suggest that Tankard are about to retire gracefully, but this couldn't be further from the truth in reality with what is surely another classic track in a back catalogue already bulging at the seams with classic numbers. The slow and steady guitar intro is well executed by Gutjahr before the tempo picks up with drummer Olaf Zissel punching out the metronomic best with both skill and precision. Simply put, this is an old school thrash number, the type that Tankard do so well. Short, punchy vocal lines from front man Andreas 'Gerre' Geremia delivered with venom in what is a watershed moment in the record. No wonder they chose this one as the title track.

tankard

The outstanding track of the album has to be 'Lock 'Em Up'. The intro sounds like this should be on an early Slayer record, but just when you're getting settled in with the slow fade up in the intro, the main track blasts out and the full majesty of the track kicks in. It was my favourite track from the very first listen and over a dozen listens to the album late, my opinion hasn't changed one iota. Everything is here in this four minute track from the razor sharp guitar riff to the stop-start drums and a supreme vocal from Geremia.

But hold on! What this? Tankard songs with a serious side to them? Yeah, that certainly seems to be the case with 'Secret Order 1516' and 'Syrian Nightmare'. For too long, Tankard are seen as the jokers in the pack, but these two tracks show the band are more than just a good time band talking about beer and partying. With 'Syrian Nightmare', the band talks about the current situation in Syria and with lyrics like...

"Fleeting from the soldiers - rebel groups alike
Surrounding our town,
Killing the civilians - there's no place to hide
No mosque - no playground
When torture, pain and violence become daily routine
My eyes have no more tears left - too much grief I've seen"

...the song will leave you in no doubt that when Tankard do have something to say, they are quite capable of articulating that in verse and music.

tankard

Likewise with 'Secret Order 1516' there's a more serious tone. The quiet almost under-stated intro with a choir of voices takes it time to build and when the track does come to life it blasts out at the most unexpected moment. Add in a shouty chorus and a fast tempo. Quite what the 'Secret Order 1516' actually was, I'm not too sure but Geremia steps up with a sincere and straight down the line vocal talking about "liquid gold" and "fracking", showing this is a rally against the continued devastation of the earth to get at its resources, showing the band have their foot on the political pulse too.

Album closer 'Sole Grinder' brings the party atmosphere back and this particular track is a tribute to the band’s manager (since 1986), Buffo Schnädelbach who Geremia decribes as "the funniest choleric person in Germany", which is a nice touch and tells the tale of the band being sent on tour to all corers of the world with Schnädelbach seemingly sending notes to them saying that despite booking the show, he wouldn’t be there in person. I guess it shows how much the band really value him and his hard work over the years. Boasting another shouty chorus, it comes to a sudden end before a long gap which eventually reveals the band chanting unaccompanied before bursting into laughter.

With more than thirty-five years of partying behind them, Tankard show no signs of calling last orders on their career, which can only be a good thing. Of course, their visibility in the UK may not be the greatest but that's not because of lacklustre albums or a small fan-base, but it's solely laid at the feet of the band who unfortunately haven't graced a UK stage since 2009 and this band, more than any other, deserves a spot at the hallowed turf at Donington. The campaign for 'Tankard at Download 2019' starts here.



You can see Tankard live here:
Saturday 24th June: Rock am Haertsfeldsee, Dischingen
Saturday 1st July: Metal Frenzy Open Air, Gardelegen
Saturday 5th August: W:O:A, Wacken
Saturday 12th August: Leyendas del Rock, Villena
Saturday 26th August: L.A. Moshclub-Festival, Cham
Saturday 2nd September: Metallergrillen, Katzenbach
Friday 22nd September: Café Central, Weinheim
Saturday 23rd September: Alte Brauerei, Annaberg-Buchholz
Friday 6th October: From Hell, Erfurt
Saturday 7th October: M.A.U. Club, Rostock
Sunday 8th October: B58, Braunschweig (Sold Out)
Saturday 28th October: (Venue T.B.C.), Tiflis
Saturday 25th November: The Rockin, Johore
Friday 1st December: K4-Festsaal, Nürnberg
Saturday 2nd December: BiNuu, Berlin
Saturday 16th December: Eindhoven Metal Meeting, Eindhoven
Friday 29th December: Tankard And Friends Festival, Frankfurt
Saturday 30th December: Eventhalle Westpark, Ingolstadt

'One Foot In The Grave' tracklist:
Pay To Pray
Arena Of The True Lies
Don't Bullshit Us!
One Foot In The Grave
Syrian Nightmare
Northern Crown (Lament Of The Undead King)
Lock 'Em Up
The Evil That Men Display
Secret Order 1516
Sole Grinder

Tankard are:
Andreas 'Gerre' Geremia – Vocals
Andreas Gutjahr – Guitar
Frank Thorwarth – Bass Guitar
Olaf Zissel – Drums

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