Metal Hammer Magazine is as responsible for who I am, as my mother or ALF re-runs. I grew up in South America, you see, and when I was a kid, the only way to know what was going on in the world of Metal was through this shitty magazine. I say shitty because most of the articles were about Saxon, Scorpions and WASP. But there were a few, here and there, about Motorhead, Slayer and other cool bands like that. It was in the pages of this mag that I saw for the first time what Jeff Hanneman and King Diamond looked like. I got an awesome Kerry King poster in one issue. I still have it. The record review section was my favorite part of the magazine. I got to read about all these metal records. Living in the ass of the western world, I never thought I would get to hear most of them. Well, as things turned out, I moved to the US of A, and I did get a chance to own a few.
I don't remember what the review for Tankard's "Zombie Attack" said in a 1986 Metal Hammer, but the name of the band and the cover stuck with me. My friend Eduardo came to Florida on vacation in '88 and asked me to give him a list of good bands, so he could buy a few tapes. Tankard made the list, even tho I'd never heard them before. The cover to "Zombie Attack" was just cool. A housewife watching TV with Dracula, the Wolf Man, the Monster of Frankenstein, a skeleton and a Canadian Lumberjack? Classic! I don't know why, but it reminded me of something Anthrax would do. So, Eduardo came back with like 15 cassettes. None of them were for me, of course, but it felt like xmas! This dude brought back "Seventh Son", "Mad Butcher", "State of Euphoria" and of course "Zombie Attack" AND "Chemical Invasion".
I must admit, at first I didn't love "Zombie Attack". It wasn't bad, but I guess I expected something heavier, something like Slayer. But, like any good Pauly Shore movie, it stayed with me until it became one of my favorites. Sorta like 'Bio-Dome', you know? If you haven't heard this classic, I can only describe it as a mixture between Cryptic Slaughter and Destruction with a little bit of Gang Green in there. Gerre's vocals are little more nasaly than in later albums and that might turn off some listeners, but the riffs are fucking catchy. The song "Empty Tankard" is a prime example of early euro crossover.
Tankard pretty much remained in the same vein (to this day, actually) in this record. The production is better and the songs have a few more changes, but remain pretty straight forward thrashy hardcory metal. It wasn't until I rediscovered this record recently that I realized how much Gerre's vocals remind me of Bill Crooks of Cryptic Slaughter. My only complaint about this record is the instrumental song "For A Thousand Beers". It has long and boring classic guitar intro. Something Exodus would do, except shittier. The rest of the song never really delivers. Just like 'Encino Man', The title track more than makes up for it, tho. It's an all-out thrash attack with an awesome build-up to a mid-tempo catchy riff that speeds up to thrash mayhem! Just like 'Son-in-Law'. It's my favorite Tankard song. It makes me want to drink beers and thrash in my bedroom until I pass out. Seriously, it does.
After this record they actually did a flexi split single with Celtic Frost that came free with an issue of Metal Hammer in Germany. "Lucky" krauts got to listen to a hiss-ridden crappy CF song and a Tankard song that is WAY below their potential.
When we first got to the US, my brother and I would go to the Franklin Park Mall every chance we got and would hit the record store (Coconuts, I think?). We'd buy any tape that met any of the following 4 criteria: 1. A band we already knew, like Anthrax, Slayer, Maiden or Destruction. 2. A tape with an awesome cover from a band we'd never heard of, like DBC or Possessed. 3. A band whose video on HBB we liked, like Prong and Panic. 4. Bands that we'd heard of through Metal Hammer, like Sabbat, Acrophet, Atrocity, Motorhead, Acid Reign, Sodom, Kreator and Tankard.
That's how we acquired "The Morning After". The cover, once again, is a classic! If I followed my gut when listening to Tankard, I'd drink tons of beer and Jack and thrash 'til I puked. This is what I'd look like "The Morning After"... This poor dude is HUNG OVER. He probaly feels like he just watched 'In the Army Now' over and over. He even stabbed his teddy bear over night, brah... That's serious beer drinking, German style. THAT'S HOW THEY ROLL, SON!
Musically they stayed fast, thrashy and furious. You really can't tell the difference between these 2 records, which is great since they are so good. TMA maybe a bit faster over all and includes "Try Again", which is a pretty punky song with scream alongs. This is the song they probably did as an encore and had all the drunken fans onstage screaming. If they didn't they should have! The title track is great, too. It might as well be an Excel cover.
This record, I listened to the first time in the last few years. I was going through a sentimental metal revival and I downloaded it via Napster, when Napster was real. "Alien" has to be my favorite all around release by the German beer-drinking thrashers. It's probably their most 'famous' record. It's a 5 song EP. It's a total classic with songs like "666 Packs" and a new version of "Empty Tankard". The cover is, of course, awesome. A beer-drinking alien riding a magical fridge full of, you guessed it, beer. This alien dude became Tankard's Eddie and was in a bunch more covers to come.
The dude with the Slayer shirt, is the Russian Jon Bon Jovi.
After "Alien" I lost touch with Tankard. One of those things, you know? People grow apart, I guess. I heard "The Meaning of Life" only once and I was happy to hear that it sounded like Tankard. The only reason I wanted to talk about this record is because the cover is simply brilliant. Not very metal, but I'd love to have the original art framed in my kitchen, or my laundry room (if I had one). The Pope, Mike Tyson and the German Prime Minister drinking beers in one table and Tankard's alien and mad scientist drinking Jack in another. Really fucking rad.
If you need any convincing why Tankard rulez, check out a list of things I got from their site, verbatim:
- We were reviewed in an English article as "Fat ugly German bastards", thus the self-ironic title for our live album "Fat, Ugly and Live"
- We never get any groupies. The audience is mainly comprised of fat dudes with smelly vests on.
- We never received any recognition from the city of Frankfurt or the beer industry for our contribution to mass alcohol consumption.
- Gerre fell asleep with 3.3 blood-alcohol during an interview on Music Box.
- We make fun of ManOwar on our song: "Sword held higher - who's the liar? - I have the beer of fire!"
Want more? Here's some other cool images I came across while researching for the post:
Here's Gerre with some fan. Check out his vest! Hella cool patches, brah!
Also notice the dude on the left wearing an OppressorT-shirt. Classic!
Tankard in '85. These 2 photos make me feel like a poser. Even at the height of my metaldom I wasn't half as metal as these dudes. Notice the hand-made Tankard T-shirt (top left)
Hmmm... OK, buddy!