IT's a long way from 1982 through to 2017, and for any band with that longevity one could reasonably expect that for their 17th album could be jaded and without much development. However, when it comes to Tankard that's definitely not the case on 'One Foot In The Grave'.
Instead they have elevated their own creativity that bit further. How? Tackling societal issues through humour is one aspect. The production of Martin Buchwalter is another.
The German thrashers have taken their familiar template, well worn over 35 years of "alcoholic thrash", and upped it a notch.
As always the music is full faced thrash, balls out and bursting with energy. There is nothing particularly new about it, but this time Tankard seem to have focussed on the power than just stringing riffs together, such as 'Don't Bullshit Us', which goes along like a rhino charging a rival.
The lyrical theme of that track, together with 'Syrian Nightmare' 'Pay To Pray' (the line about Jesus's back stage pass...), 'Arena of the True Lies' and the title track tackle a society so fucked up that the only way to confront it is with anger, humour and throwing the absurdity of ideology back in its face.
Gerre sounds like one angry man throughout, although measured in his fury, such as on 'One Foot In The Grave' that builds quickly into a rage filled track.
Andi, Frank and Olaf seem to be ever more tightly linked rather than has been the occasion once or twice before more akin to ploughing their own paths. Andi in particular sounds as if he wished to use the guitar lines to mirror the lyrical rage.
There are times that the songs have an element of brooding menace such as on 'Northern Crown (Lament of the Undead King)'. But, of course there had to be a song about beer...
'Secret Order 1516' may have an orchestral introduction, with choral chants and horns, but this seven minute plus epic has the appropriate pompousness of a song about drinking. "Fight for our liquid gold" indeed.
What keeps 'One Foot In The Grave' working throughout all 10 tracks is within the thrash assault there are always little surprises in approach. No more a cult band Tankard's 17th effort is a triumph that should see them finally achieve the acclaim from the more mainstream listeners.
Review by Jonathan Traynor
'One Foot In The Grave' is out now on Nuclear Blast