Thursday, June 17, 2010

Tankard - Two-Faced (1994)

Most of the European 80s thrash bands would not make it to six albums, in fact most would not make it to three, but here were Tankard, still blazing away after the entire genre's floor fell out from under it, and alternative rock, grunge and awful pop punk pushed in on its territory, stealing away the many tasteless, flighty poseurs who probably only enjoyed Anthrax and Megadeth in their teens because it was 'cool' to do so. Gerre and his off-duty soldiers did not give six fucks to Sunday what was 'cool', as long as the kegs were flowing and the glasses frosted, and a good thrash beat being performed, they were good to go!

Two-Faced is the exact type of album I would want to hear from Tankard, knowing full well by 1994 that they were never going to top their 'drunken trinity' of masterworks (i.e. the first three albums). Instead, they tightened in on their performance and production and continued to just compose decent thrash tracks loaded with energy, vicious vocals and dynamic riffing. This is by far one of their best efforts in the 90s, with a whole roster of songs you can vomit or fist fight to, and though its by no means perfect, it's laden with the mean momentum that this band helped pioneer (along with their peers Destruction, Vendetta, Sodom, Kreator and Deathrow). Ironically, this is the one Tankard album without ANY alcoholic metal songs whatsoever...and yet I still feel like toasting the agony of my pathetic existence whenever I hear it.

Those seeking what I like to dub the 'beer blitz' will fondly seek their teeth into a speedster like "Betrayed", with ferocious riffing that is custom built for the circle pit. It's also quite endearing to hear Gerre's rather blunt lyrics about a relationship...I wouldn't have thought this man capable of flirtation with anything outside a Pilsner. "Cities in Flames" also excites with a storm of churning German velocity, broken down into some desperate vocals over the moshing verse rhythm. "Cyberworld", "Death Penalty", and "R.T.V" (one of Tankard's numerous preemptive attacks on the empty headed entertainment industry that has today all but taken over our lives) will also have you hurling your fists or the contents of your stomach at the nearest human in proximity, with the title track not far behind.

It's not all speed and glitter, however. "Up from Zero" is a pretty mid-paced punk/thrash hybrid with a chorus difficult to deny, and "Days of the Gun" is a rarity, a successful Tankard rock song with a melancholic feel to the riffing that kicks the ass of any 'experiment' on the following album The Tankard. Top this off with the punkish "Jimmy B. Bad" and a cover of the Strassenjungs' "Ich Brauch' Meinen Suff" in their native tongue, and you've got yourself a pretty consistent record in all, including the songs I haven't named.

Two-Faced is like the sound of a desperate, drunken ship of fools hung over the swirling vortex of oblivion, and though Tankard would never quite topple over into that gaping, dark spot like so many other thrash bands, they would next go on to release the two weakest efforts of their career. For that reason, I feel like I enjoy this even more than I might otherwise, because it's like the last hot, fertile screw before the onset of a thrashing menopause.

Verdict: Win [8/10] (fooling me with one more poisoned kiss)

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