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Album Reviews : Tankard – One Foot In The Grave

By on June 7, 2017

Tankard can almost be considered thrash metal’s jovial, yet social aware uncle. On this new album, Tankard vocalist Andreas “Gerre” Geremia, manages to address as diverse a series of subjects as German beer purity laws and the more serious social and political narratives through 2017. One Foot in the Grave will certainly be a lot of things to a lot of listeners.

“Pay to Pray” opens with a relatively standard melodic guitar intro before the hammer is dropped around 30 seconds in for a stoic riff that Dave Mustaine could nod and snarl through. On this album cut, guitarist Andreas Gutjahr signals very early that his guitar picking hand will determine the albums musical statement.

I’ve not read any copy on Gutjahr’s playing… in fact via a Google search I couldn’t find any interviews. Some readers will know from previous reviews that I am partial to focusing on the musician’s performance through an album. So it is true with One Foot in the Grave that the albums overall success rests somewhat significantly Gutjahr’s ability to draw the listener in for the journey.

Gutjahr’s performance is accomplished. His style of playing is very direct and almost bolt upright. Olaf Zissel’s drums act as the railroad for locomotive Gutjahr. “Don’t Bullshit Us!” is a very strong album cut. Both musicians offer a razor sharp rhythm stampede through the songs chorus, imagine Metallica’s “Fight Fire with Fire” refined to its base elements and you may have the ingredients for this track. Through this track, the layering of the guitars rhythmic elements act as a second voice.

One thing that I often find missing from this type of molten thrash metal is the prominence of a second vocalist.

In the live setting, Jason Newstead offered much value to the sound Metallica plundered through the Load episode of Metallica’s career. How on earth Newstead’s contribution was exorcised across both albums… well many have attempted to offer worthy explanations, however as I witnessed on the bands Australian tour in 1998 his vocal accompaniment to so many of the revered thrash metal canticles from early in Metallica’s career introduced another dimension to their sound.

Far from a criticism, take this merely an observation; I would love to hear what One Foot in the Grave might have sounded like with a prominent secondary vocal… food for thought for fan and band.

A feature I have written for this publication offers greater detail on the lyrical content through One Foot in the Grave. I had a chat to Gerre prior to the albums release and it was certainly interesting to hear how much of the albums subject matter concerned global events and commentary on political discourse. I’d say that this is the bands most socially aware album; it will be interesting to see where they go on the next album. Titles such as “Arena of True Lies”, “Syrian Nightmare”, “Lock ‘Em Up” and “The Evil That Men Display” allude to far more than beer and head banging.

Make no mistake; One Foot in the Grave is a thrash metal album for thrash metal fans. I would even suggest that Gutjahr alone has put in the trash metal performance of the year through his scintillating work on far too many other album cuts to mention.

Would I recommend the album to a listener more in tune with recent output from bands such as Emmure and Volumes? Probably not. It’s a cliché to suggest that fans of more modern or ‘de jour’ metal are not to be drawn to classic thrash. So many legendary bands enjoy new life through fans across all demographic groups via updated recording and mastering techniques. I’m still rocking my cassette of Overkill’s excellent The Grinding Gears released earlier this year, and would certainly direct the curious to the Wrecking Crew’s excellent album rather than One Foot in the Grave.

One Foot in the Grave is an album for the metal aficionado, one who has lived with metal for long enough to register the almost imperceptible and subtle sonic variations that can occur through each track. I certainly enjoyed the album, although I am more likely to revisit it in the long-term future as a reference point for outstanding thrash metal guitar playing.

Band: Tankard
Album: One Foot In The Grave
Year: 2017
Genre: Teutonic Thrash Metal
Label:  Nuclear Blast Records
Origin: Germany

About

Andrew is a musician who has spent many years performing on the stages of the pubs and clubs of Queensland. A devotee of the broad church that is rock, punk, funk, jazz and of course all genres of metal... he now shares his enthusiasm via a burgeoning pursuit of music journalism. Follow him on twitter @andymckaysmith