I've been collecting hard rock and heavy metal CDs since the late '80s.
Tankard, "Best Case Scenario: 25 Years In Beers"
AFM Records (Germany), 2007
12 Tracks, Run Time: 64:37
How the hell did it take me this long to discover Germany's Tankard? This long running, beer-obsessed thrash metal band has been kicking around the international scene since the early '80s, yet till recently they were one of those bands I'd always heard and read much about, but had never actually heard.
The lack of Tankard in my life was mostly because their CDs were relatively tough to come by in America, especially in the pre-Internet era. Only a handful of Tankard's albums received distribution in the U.S., so the majority of their catalog was only available as pricey imports from Europe. They always sounded like they'd be up my alley, though -- shoot, I love beer and I love thrash metal, so putting the two together is a winning combination in my book.
I finally heard Tankard for the first time a few years ago thanks to a free thrash-metal compilation CD that came with an issue of the U.K.'s Metal Hammer magazine (remember when metal mags gave away free CDs? Hell, remember metal mags, period?) and I was immediately hooked by their track "(Empty) Tankard." When the vocalist led into the mid-section mosh part with an absolutely unhinged scream of "WE NEED... ANOTHER... F**KING...BEEEEEER," I knew I needed to hear more from this band.
It took me a while, but I finally tracked down a copy of the CD that song came from, Best Case Scenario: 25 Years In Beers, at a decent price a few weeks ago. Better late than never, eh? So what do you say, kids? Let's pour a tall cool one (or two, or three, or six...), press "play," and find out what Tankard is all about...
When I ordered Best Case Scenario, I thought it was just a standard "Greatest Hits" compilation, but it turns out that the disc is a freshly re-recorded collection of Tankard classics by the then-current lineup (vocalist Andreas Geremia, aka "Gerre," guitarist Andy Gutjahr, drummer Olaf Zissel, and bassist Frank Thorwarth). The disc was released in 2007 to celebrate the band's 25th (!) anniversary.
For the uninitiated (which included me, till very recently), Tankard's music is straight-up, no-frills thrash metal, very similar to Bonded By Blood-era Exodus and early Slayer, mixed with a healthy dose of Anthrax/S.O.D.'s goofball sense of humor. The opening triple shot of "Zombie Attack," "(Empty) Tankard," and "Maniac Forces" (all from 1986's Zombie Attack debut) pretty much set the template that the band continues to use to this day -- fast n' furious, full of crunchy, moshable riffs and over-the-top, screeching vocals.
Tankard's support for Germany's famed Purity Law in beer brewing (which forbids using any chemical preservatives) is front and center in "Chemical Invasion" ("fight for your right to drink pure beer!"), then things get briefly political with the Chernobyl-inspired highlight "Don't Panic." Things don't stay serious for long as the hilarious "66 6-Packs" reveals that the band signed a deal with Satan to make their records sell better. The tongue-in-cheek "Alien" and "Space Beer" detail Tankard's experiences with thirsty extra-terrestrials, and "Freibier" (sung in the band's native German) relates the story of a particularly vicious night out on the town in their home city of Frankfurt.
"Beermuda" is a thrashing fantasy about an island paradise where "the water tastes like premium brew," and a medley of "Alcohol," "Puke," "Mon Cheri," and "Wonderful Life" leads us into Tankard's present day, where the band suddenly seems less concerned with beer-related topics. "Nation Over Nation" speaks out against conformity and nationalism, while "Two Faced" seems to rail against politicians who portray one "face" to the public at large while acting completely different when no one is looking. Pretty deep stuff for a bunch of drunks, huh?
Summing It Up
Best Case Scenario: 25 Years In Beers is a ton of thrashing, mosh-it-up fun and I've resolved to check out more of Tankard's work in the very near future. The band is still kickin' to this day (their most recent album, One Foot In The Grave, was released in 2017) so collecting their extensive catalog should keep me busy for a while. Horns up, fellas. Sorry it took me so long to get on the Tankard train. Cheers, and stop the Chemical Invasion!