Review Summary: It's safe to say that Tankard was still on a rise in quality at this point, but this is them at their creative peak.
Tankard is a band you should never take seriously; not least because they don't take themselves seriously, but also because it was their intention to have far too much fun than should be allowed. Indeed, the beer themed band has pumped out albums in great number (admittedly, their 90s output was fairly poor, concluding with the dreadful Disco Destroyer). However, there has been a pretty obvious return for Tankard, who have managed to regain a great deal of stability, with 6 albums released in this decade, and without any stinkers.
The band members on this album were:
* Andreas "Gerre" Geremia - vocals
* Andy Gutjahr - guitar
* Frank Thorwarth - bass, backing vocals
* Olaf Zissel - drums
Beast Of Bourbon is their 3rd album this decade, and in my opinion one of the best German thrash releases this decade, along with Inventor Of Evil and In War And Pieces; indeed, the level of aggression and skill shown by the band is very impressive. Lyrically, this is the same as other releases; pop-culture themes like aliens, zombies, cowboys and, obviously, beer. Like a lot of German thrash, it mostly focuses on strait aggression mixed with technical riffing and entertaining soloing. Compared to Destruction or Sodom, their closest peers, Tankard uses the rather more punky style of Sodom and fuses it with the riffing style of Destruction. The result is very promising.
Musically the band has progressed. Each member of the band is very solid; Andy Gutjahr puts across some excellent riffs, Frank Thorwath does some great basslines on tracks like The Herde
, and Olaf does some very nice thrash style drumming. Gerre is generally a bit harder to form an opinion on; he has some extremely aggressive vocals and occasionally sounds quite a bit like Tom Angelripper, but he isn't as good at keeping in tune. Make of that what you will, but I personally would have preferred him to keep slightly more in tune.
Generally the album is pretty darn consistent. The first tracks barely slow down and deliver some brutal riffs. The opener, Under Friendly Fire
is the most instantly powerful, slamming some very nice riffs in. Generally this sets the style for the rest of the album, and other tracks like Slipping From Reality
have some excellent riffs and high speed soloing. Later tracks such as Dead Man Drinking
follow this template of riffing attack, and generally it's a good thing to stick by.
Not to say that Beast Of Bourbon lacks variation. Tracks such as The Herde
use a rising bass intro with guitar tracks following in with the bass's excellent riff. Following riffs are just as brutal as in earlier tracks and the solo that follows later certainly does no harm to the song. Generally it's one of the best songs on the album and most definitely has some nice variation of speed, and Olaf delivers some excellent double bass to increases the song's intensity where it counts. Another change in style occurs on the albums most well known song, Die With A Beer In Your Hand
, which has a melodic (if cheesy) intro, followed by some excellent riffs that succeed in being catchy rather than being the typical super technical thrash riff. Other tracks like Endless Pleasure and Fistful of Love change the pace, if not quite as magnificently as The Herde.
Overall the entire album is a solid and enjoyable slab of super-aggressive Teutonic thrash. Generally it manages to be an album that's varied enough to keep your attention, while also featuring some great musical ability and some truly excellent riffs. However, it isn't "that" amazing. Indeed, strong riffs are abound, but unlike, say, Master Of Puppets, not all the tracks are that memorable. Unlike Master Of Puppets, everyone in the band is delivering a super aggressive assault that doesn't tend to drag in many tracks.
Slipping From Reality
Die With A Beer In Your Hand
Dead Men Drinking