Tankard – One Foot In The Grave

For decades, arguments have been ongoing among Metal fans as to the validity of the acts included in the so-called “Big Four” of Thrash. Even now, there are still regular (and all rather pointless) cries for the likes of Exodus, Testament or Overkill to have been included ahead of one or more of the established big boys. Meanwhile in Europe, and admittedly on a somewhat smaller scale, “The Teutonic Trio” of Kreator, Destruction, and Sodom had also arrived, but were so far ahead of most of their peers that there really wasn’t much room for debate. Eventually though, a few years ago, The Teutonic Trio finally became a “Big Teutonic Four”, when it was rightfully expanded to include popular beer enthusiasts, Tankard.

Having spent most of their career singing about beer, the consumption of beer, the purity of beer, and the effects of beer, Tankard’s latest record One Foot In The Grave (Nuclear Blast) only actually features one (albeit frankly superb) song about the foamy, amber wobbly-juice. ‘Secret Order 1516’ is that song and it celebrates just over 500 years of the German Beer Purity Law (Reinheitsgebot) which originated in Bavaria in 1516 and insisted that “the only ingredients used for the brewing of beer must be Barley, Hops, and Water”.

Among the other subjects covered across the album are dubious religious practices (‘Pay to Pray’), social media and the internet (‘Arena of the True Lies’), the all too relevant subject of war in the Middle East (‘Syrian Nightmare’), immigration and minorities (‘Lock ‘Em Up’), and of course, Heavy Metal (‘Don’t Bullshit Us’).

Produced by Martin Buchwalter, the album features some nice Maiden-esque twin guitar harmonies, a top vocal performance by Andreas ‘Gerre’ Geremia, and a lively rhythm section. If you like Accept and modern-day Kreator, then One Foot in the Grave should soon have you nodding your approval. The solos may be a little on the forgettable side, and most of the song structures follow the same pattern, but overall, it’s an enjoyably heavy, fast and thrashy, album but also one imbued with a clear and distinct sense of melody.