Tankard – Zombie Attack, Chemical Invasion, The Morning After Reissues

For too many years, Frankfurt alcohol aficionados Tankard had been unfairly excluded from the German Thrash Metal elite, the so-called “Teutonic Trio” of Kreator, Destruction, and Sodom. However, if you knock long enough, eventually you’ll be let in, and finally a few years ago the big boys club opened its doors to the drunken four-piece who had been impatiently waiting outside, pissing on the door handle and vomiting in the bushes.

Formed in 1982, Tankard have gone on to release a staggering seventeen albums based almost entirely around the consumption of fermented wobbly juice, the first seven of which those lovely people at Noise Records are reissuing over the next couple of months, all remastered and in shiny new packaging. The Meaning of Life, Stone Cold Sober, Two-Faced, and The Tankard will all see the light of day towards the end of January, but this week sees the re-release of the band’s earlier, most notable work.

Unimpressed by movie classic, Jaws, a couch potato opens a beer, gets up from his sofa to check out a noise coming from outside his front door, and is promptly eaten by zombies. Thus begins Tankard’s 1986 début album, Zombie Attack (Noise), a charmingly immature record full of speed, youthful exuberance, heavy German accents, and dodgy lyrics (“Smash the axe into her fuckin’ ugly face” from ‘Poison’ remains as beautifully daft to this day as it did back then).

As unsophisticated as Zombie Attack might be, there’s still a solid amount of quality musicianship on display for the genre. Early Metallica is clearly a big influence, with ‘Acid Death’ (or ‘Acid Dess!” thanks to vocalist Gerre‘s thick accent) not sounding a million miles away from ‘Motorbreath’ in places, and ‘Thrash ‘Till Death’ basically being a German version of ‘Whiplash’. It’s all great fun though, and songs like ‘(Empty) Tankard’, the title track, and ‘Maniac Forces’ certainly did enough to draw the right kind of attention to themselves. [9.0]

Although still displaying much of the adolescent enthusiasm of their début, Tankard’s second album, 1987’s Chemical Invasion (Noise) was a much more confident affair. Faster, heavier, more focused, and technically superior in almost every department, the band showed they were more than capable of mixing it with the big boys. Lyrically, the band were still learning their trade (‘Farewell To A Slut’, although a good song, certainly didn’t win them any poetry awards), but ‘Total Addiction’, ‘Tantrum’, ‘Don’t Panic’ and the superb title track are still some of the finest examples of mid-eighties German Thrash. [9.5]

The final release in this batch, the following year’s The Morning After (Noise) comes with the added bonus of 1989’s Alien EP (Noise). By now, the band had settled firmly into their groove and although TMA didn’t quite manage to reach the heights of their previous albums, there were still improvements in other areas, most noticeably in the lyrics, even if it did lack some of the juvenile appeal of the first two records. ‘Shit-Faced’, ‘Commandments’, ‘TV Hero’, and the title track pound purposefully along, with more than a hint of punk attitude. The 48 second ‘Mon Cheri’, and their cover of ‘Try Again’ by the fellow German band, Spermbirds (a surprisingly safe Google Image search) highlighting this. The Alien EP, although only an interim release, still maintained the quality. The title track bristles with energy, while ‘666 Pack’, ‘Live to Dive’ and a re-recording of ‘(Empty) Tankard’ keep things moving at a healthy pace, aided by a suitably boisterous cover of ‘Remedy’ by Rose Tattoo. [8.0]

Overall Score: 9.0/10

GARY ALCOCK