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Tank were another of the promising NWOBHM bands to dwell at the filthier end of the spectrum; comparisons to Motörhead are obvious as far as the band's blues driven, barhouse (or pubhouse) swagger, with a slight difference in Algy Ward's vocals which are slightly higher pitched. Filth Hounds of Hades was their debut and best effort, they grew a little more commercial with later releases which didn't end up working in their favor.
The album begins with a chest beating chant, almost throwing you off before the chords of "Shellshock" kick into overdrive. Honestly, you would have half expected Lemmy to begin his tobacco eroded vocals at this point (Algy Ward was also a multi-tasking bassist/vocalist), the musical similarities are so strong. Still, they eke out a pretty catchy set of riffs with some burning leads. "Struck by Lightning" is gritty British metal with rapid fire blues riffing, and "Run Like Hell" is a total rocka rolla with thick and grooving bass. "Blood, Guts and Beer" opens with some catchy licks, again in speedy blues mode which really signifies the birth of this whole style. The remainder of the tracks are consistently good, but the standouts are the catchy "Heavy Artillery" and the true classic of the album "Turn Your Head Around" with a memorable chorus and some great leads. The song has been covered by Sodom and other bands yet the original still burns brightly.
The album has always sounded good and remains so, a well balanced mix capturing all the drive of the chords, steady beats and wailing solos. This is the blue blood steelworking style of heavy metal, for a night out at the pub or a soccer brawl. No frills and no gimmicks. If you fancy Motörhead, Saxon, or other such acts of its day, and you're not already familiar with it, Filth Hounds of Hades is a worthwhile 'classic' which you should enjoy for a few spins. It remains the crown jewel in the band's chronologically deteriorating discography.
So here it is, the second, and not at all anticipated, instalment of the Village Hall Tomfoolery guide to NWOBHM. Tank are often seen as being to Motörhead as what Witchfinder General are to Black Sabbath. However, to me this is a little unfair, sure, they occupy the same loud, crude and unfussy end of the metal spectrum and share much of the sonic makeup as Motörhead but Tank aren’t the Motörclones others have made them out to be.
Algy Ward had somewhat of a grounding in then burgeoning punk scene which explains the overtly punkish sound here. Algy had played with Australian punks The Saints (of whom I know nearly nothing of) and the provided bass on The Damned’s seminal ‘Machine Gun Etiquette’, which freed up the fantastic Captain Sensible to play lead…but that’s a whole other story. Anyway, the punkier (or speed metal) tracks here are usually excellent and the less than stellar moments are when the band tries something more bluesy, namely ‘Who Needs Love Songs’, well I don’t know, but I certainly don’t need this song. But other than that minor slip in quality, Tank’s debut pretty much flat out rocks.
The clear winner here is ‘Turn Your Head Around’, this one tears its way out of your speakers with an awesome if slightly amateurish lead line and a ripping pace. This song has a fury so drunken that all it can taste is bile and the spittle of a jaundiced trollop. Life affirming and rampant in its execution, but more importantly, it’s fucking fun. Indeed, why are you sitting here reading this, gorging yourself on cups and cakes (what lovely things mother makes) until you bear some resemblance to Jabba the Hut , when you could be haphazardly thrashing about your humble abode with this glorious exercise in speed pounding away in your waxy ears? The choice is yours dear reader. ‘Heavy Artillery’ is another highlight, a well rounded mid pace rocker with some excellent riffs. Sure it’s all somewhat shakily executed, but hell, this is NWOBHM not a bovine technical metal release, I want character and charm not lifeless sweep picked runs. The lead guitar here is a perfect example of this, strangely beautiful and delicate for such a rough and ready band but strikingly effective. ‘(He Fell in Love with a) Stormtrooper’ is an interesting listen lyrically. Perhaps it would presumptuous to assume that the songs homosexual conations are a reference to brown-shirted and, ahem, brown-sworded Nazi Nancy Ernst Röhm. But anyway a great little stomping rocker, in keeping with the general good rocking and tongue in cheek humour of the album.
‘Fast’ Eddie was always an excellent guitarist and a seasoned drinker (he usually carried two guitar cases, one with an instrument, the other full of Jack Daniels), however, production is not his forte, see ‘Iron Fist’ for an example of this. But the production here is actually rather pleasant everything is raw and has a certain hangover fuzz to it. In all, still scrappy and scruffy like most NWOBHM productions, but pleasing to these ears.
Algy Ward wins man of the match here, I do find his abrasive yet tuneful drawl charming and it gives proceedings a real touch of class, or lack of. The guitars are somewhat of an ecstasy of fumbling, lacking from a technical perspective but really enjoyable. Again, I never really expected anything more from a scruffy NWOBHM album.
‘Filth Hounds of Hades’ is one of the better NWOBHM albums out there and does exactly what it says on the tin delivering loud and hard rock ’n’ roll, which you should be a fan of or else me and Tom Angelripper are coming to your town to skin your cat and post it through your letter box…Come here Mittens you fucker!
I remember the first time I heard this band, when a friend sent me the song "Blood, guts and beer". I immediately fell in love with the song - you can tell the band's having fun, and this feeling is delivered through the speakers into the ears of the listener. This whole album is extremely fun, a blast to listen to, and just makes one feel good. Crack a beer, light a smoke, bang your head and sing along, and enjoy.
Often Tank are compared to Motörhead, though I don't quite agree. Bassist/vocalist Algy Ward does have a bit of a gruff voice but not nearly as whiskey-and-marlboro-devastated as that of Lemmy, and the general feel the music gives is also quite different.
The riffs are often fairly simplistic and power-chord based, like the opening track "Shellshock" for instance, but there's also some very nice bluesy material but still aggressive that requires using more than two strings while playing, so to speak. The main riff of "Blood, guts and beer" is a good example of this - very catchy indeed, fun as hell to air guitar to (or play it on a real guitar, whichever you prefer).
I've found it hard to describe exactly what I love about this band, but somehow they managed to become my absolute favorite band of the NWOBHM scene. But while the riffs in themselves aren't exactly groundbreaking, the general mood and the way everything is put together gives a very unique sound - you'd know right away when you're listening to a Tank song.
This album has a perfect mixture of subtle blues influences and complete balls-out rocking, and with a delivery that shows that their heart and soul is put into it. We have the fun songs such as "Blood, guts and beer" which is just about having a good goddamn time, with that blues-but-metal main riff, and then there are songs such as the speedy asskicker "Turn your head around" with it's more serious war-based lyrics and a great atmosphere created simply with catchy, interesting riffing and vocal lines that will stick in your head forever. The chorus, not unlike many other songs on the album, is just the songtitle repeated 4 times, but damn does it fucking WORK. They have the ability to write extremely catchy and memorable vocal lines which manage to extremely well capture the true feeling of each song, and are simultaneously extremely fun to sing along to.
Other tracks worth mentioning if you asked me, would be all of them. As far as I'm concerned, there is no filler here - sure, "Who needs love songs" is rather silly but it's fun as hell, with a main riff similar to that of "Blood, guts and beer" yet less bluesy and more harmless. It's probably the weakest song on the album, but very fun nonetheless.
One of the highlights however would be the menacing headbanging-mania of a title track with that excellent "everyone-shut-up-for-this-guitar-lick" breakdown after the second chorus leading into the short but excellent solo. Also the ending track "(He fell in love with a) stormtrooper" is very, very nice. Fistpounding required for some catchy mid-tempo riffs and vocal lines, and a massive climax at the end with some insanely awesome soloing combined with repetition of the chorus (once again the song title repeated over and over again, and once again it works so fucking well). A classic way to end a song, and they pull it off incredibly well.
All in all, one of my absolute favorites of NWOBHM, and one of the most often played albums in my collection. A raw but well balanced sound, great musicianship (credit must also be given to the drummer whose name I unfortunately can't remember right now - he keeps a solid backbone to the music giving it great power, and also manages to enhance the feeling of each song in just the right way without complicating things too much) and overall powerful delivery. This is a truly fun album that'll bring a smile to your face.