As soon as they had finished school (successfully!), the five guys of Tankard went to Berlin in order to record their debut during the summer of 1986. By the way, they also destroyed their hotel room. In retrospect it seems as if they wanted to embody a unique mixture of adolescent clowns and real rock stars. But Harris Johns (whoever else?) had the recipe to domesticate the guys. As a result, the Music Lab studio survived the visit of the band without damage. Moreover, the producer and the band created a vigorous album.
The songs were fairly simply configured, but they also possessed a little degree of finesse. The bulky riffs of “Acid Death” as well as the good time speed metal rocker “(Empty) Tankard” could not be described as primitive or unimaginative pieces. The same went for “Maniac Forces” because of its unusual melody and the ghostlike background vocals. Anyway, the five guys were in their element when performing straight tracks. They connected their youthful impetuosity with an amazing amount of catchiness and impressed with highly memorable elaborations.
Frank Thorwarth had composed the title track and Gerre had written the unbelievably intelligent lyrics. The elongated “Attaaack” of the chorus marked the first milestone. In view of the lunatic intro, the obstinate riffing and the smoothly running verse, the chorus rounded off the astounding overall picture. The rapid “Mercenary” was not amongst the highlights, but it revealed a further interesting chorus because of its intensive interplay between Gerre´s voice and the restless shouting of the background choir. Anyway, Tankard could not be reduced on catchy choruses. The late double strike “Poison” and “Chains” made clear that the band also knew how to conceive cross-grained thrashers. But even these songs shined with a supple guitar work without neglecting heaviness in any way whatsoever. Although the lyrics of these tunes dealt with violent bullshit, I do not want to blame the guys for this approach. The cover artwork, which caught the mood of the album in a brilliant way, illustrated that Gerre had created the nonsensical lines with a twinkle in his eyes. This also applied to “Screamin´ Victims”, the plainly structured closer of the album and simultaneously the second tune of Thorwarth. The remaining tunes had been contributed by Axel Katzmann, but irrespective of its author, no song slipped through the net.
It is an ironic twist of fate that exactly “(Empty) Tankard” has become a kind of signature song of Tankard. Its riffing seems to be destined to ensure a fantastic mood in a tent at the Bavarian Oktoberfest and the song is anything else but bad. You just need a penchant for funny tracks. But from my point of view, it belongs to the less exciting pieces of the album. Anyway, it is always a good sign if fairly good songs have to take their place at the end of the table. Not to mention the fact that “Zombie Attack” kicked off the longstanding career of the band. From that perspective, Tankard´s trip to Berlin was very successful. Only the owner of their hotel will have a different point of view.
A1 Zombie Attack
A2 Acid Death
A4 Maniac Forces
B1 (Empty) Tankard
B2 Trash Till Death
B5 Screamin’ Victims