Review Summary: Does anyone really know the meaning of life? Apparently Tankard doesn't, but still they did prove to be real professionals in making a song about that topic.
Some bands devote their lyrics to occultism and Satanism; others embrace the dungeons and dragons world, opting to create entire fictitious worlds or interesting (though cheesy) medieval stories. You can also find many groups and artists dealing with social problems or politics. Then there’s Tankard, playing unpretentious thrash metal while rendering homage to beer with their peculiar sense of humor. Band’s dynamic is very simple: play the music very fast and loud until getting tired. Once you understand Tankard’s thematic and sound (their partying attitude is easily a ''love it or hate it'' thing), you’ll know that these guys really know how to serve good quality thrash.
After recording in the late 80s one of their best studio works, The Morning After
, and the solid, enjoyable EP Alien
, the kings of beer entered the 90s integrating a new drummer, Arnulf Tunn, replacing Oliver Werner. The rest of the classic line-up is still intact: the wild Gerre at the mic, the great Frank Thorwarth on bass and the guitar duo Andy Bulgaropoulos and Axel Katzmann. The Meaning of Life
is another thrash fest from start to finish, replete of speedy riffs, an unstoppable rhythm section and some punk influences thrown occasionally. Although they are far from being a serious or groundbreaking band, Tankard is a ''must have'' for a diehard thrash fan and a band that surely any head-banging metalhead will enjoy.
Songs like ''Beermuda'', ''Dancing on Our Grave'' or ''Barfly'' are simply the embodiment of what Tankard is: speed, aggressiveness, fairly good and respectable instrumental skills and catchy, wild choruses. The same can be said of the opening one-two punch of ''Open All Night'' and ''We Are Us''. The former starts with a dark, slow marching riff before giving way to another relentless thrash discharge loaded with furious guitars and lyrics describing an apocalyptical world without beer. Alcoholic metal par excellence. ''We Are Us'' follows the same path, but this time with more serious lyrics (about believing in yourself and not being something you’re not). Its unreachable riffs along with the powerful drums and the rebellious, funny vocal hooks (Be you, don’t try living a lie
) are enough to make it one of the album’s highlights.
Besides talking about beer, Tankard occasionally takes the opportunity to add a bit of criticism to the world in which we live in songs like the aforementioned ''Dancing on Our Grave'' (Civilization reeks of its waste/A toxic curse that lies forever on the RACE
) or the six-minute ''Mechanical Man''. The latter, along with ''Wheel of Rebirth'' are the album’s longest tracks, and also Tankard’s attempts to write more complex tunes, with more technically-sound riffs and raging speeds. Special mention to ''Wheel of Rebirth'', filled with impressive riff after impressive riff, many sudden tempo changes and the band as a whole sounds devastating and incredible. Six minutes can be a bit too much, though, so if you’re looking for more short and to the point songs you can choose to hear the title track or ''Space Beer'', both with more energetic fun and in latter’s case, one of the punkier tunes on the record, with an accelerated, entertaining melody in its chorus. These are tracks that will surely satisfy any fan of the band.
The album’s only minor flaw may be that it lasts 51 minutes (Tankard’s longest album back then), so that means the songs are a little longer than in their previous deliveries. Thus the album can be a pain in the butt for some during the first listens, or it can get a little formulaic or repetitive at times. Leaving that aside, if you don’t absolutely require artsy elements, complex lyrics or seriousness in your metal for it to be enjoyable, there’s no doubt you’ll have a good time with The Meaning of Life
and Tankard in general.