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Tankard - "Vol(l)ume 14" (CD)

Tankard - "Vol(l)ume 14" CD cover image

"Vol(l)ume 14" track listing:

1. Time Warp (6:01)
2. Rules For Fools (3:55)
3. Fat Snatchers (The Hippo Effect) (5:12)
4. Black Plague (BP) (4:24)
5. Somewhere In Nowhere (4:09)
6. The Agency (5:04)
7. Brain Piercing Öf Death (4:20)
8. Beck's In The City (3:29)
9. Condemnation (6:23)
10. Weekend Warriors (7:25)

Reviewed by on March 21, 2011

"We can give Tankard an overall pass for 'Vol(l)ume 14' because it is the band’s fourteenth (!) album, but at some point, we have to call out skunky beer for what it is… bad tasting and forgettable."

While the members of Tankard are the self proclaimed “Kings of Beer,” I prefer a different moniker for the veteran thrashers - alcoholics with a soul. Seriously. As I noted on the band’s previous album “Thirst,” Tankard mixes some pretty adept social commentary in with the boozy romps, and the fourteenth long-player, the aptly titled “Vol(l)ume 14,” keeps that lyrical diversity intact. But unfortunately Tankard’s actual music and songwriting has taken a step backwards, as two things immediately stand out about “Vol(l)ume 14” – the unexciting Bay Area thrash rehash, and how Tankard sounds so amazingly close to Death Angel.

Earlier in the band’s career, Tankard followed a similar musical path to other Teutonic thrash outfits like Sodom and Kreator, but now the act has shifted to a Bay-Area style, complete with more punk and hardcore riffs, vocals, and melodic patterns. But with this shift has come a fairly drab case of the been-there-done-that’s on “Vol(l)ume 14,” as Tankard doesn’t appear to have the experience or inspiration to write anything really exciting. “Rules for Fools” is supposed to be a short, mid-tempo, head-banging groover, but the melody doesn’t go anywhere, the riff is busy not finding a hook, and the vocals are caught in no-man’s land between brutal and inspiring while not being either.

The other big problem is that “Vol(l)ume 14” sounds like Death Angel’s latest album, “Relentless Retribution,” a little too closely. Andres Geremia’s vocals mirror Mark Osegueda’s like a doppelganger – the enunciation, the rhythm, the tambre and tone – it might as well be Osegueda filling in. And while Andreas Gutjahr’s riffs aren’t complete Rob Cavestany rip-offs, he certainly went to Cavestany’s “How to Play Thrash” workshops and took copious notes.

Now for a band on their fourteenth full-length release, change is welcome, as few bands are as unoriginally original as AC/DC. But this Bay Area thrash thing just doesn’t suit Tankard, at least not yet. They’ve got the chops, skill, and experience to grow into it, but most of “Vol(l)ume 14” lags behind the bland riffs, song structures, and musical ideas.

Kudos to Tankard for keeping the lyrical content the same as ever, as it’s nice that such a blatantly boozy band can mix in serious topics. Among travelling through time to kill other versions of yourself (“Time Warp”) and how to lose weight by being in a coma (“Fat Snatchers The Hippo Effect”), we get a pretty scathing perspective on the BP Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico (“Black Plague BP”). But if I wanted political or social commentary I could (reluctantly) read any number of books; I listen to Tankard for consistently good thrash metal with some interesting lyrics, be it fun or factual.

We can give Tankard an overall pass for “Vol(l)ume 14” because it is the band’s fourteenth (!) album, but at some point, we have to call out skunky beer for what it is… bad tasting and forgettable.

Highs: “The Agency” has the best riffs and solos on the album.

Lows: The vocals are bland and easy Death Angel rip offs.

Bottom line: German booze-thrash vets try something a bit different, but fall flat, on their fourteenth full-length.

Rated 2 out of 5 skulls
2 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)