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Tankard had not been able to tour directly after their third album for professional reasons. But some months later, they had the possibility to play concerts. To go on tour without a new product seemed to be a financial risk. Consequently, they released "Alien". Good news, the band presented itself in good form after the disappointing "The Morning After".
Three new tracks formed the nucleus of the EP. Well, "new" is relative. As far as I know, the title track had been the very first composition of guitarist Bulgaropulos. However, it had been already released on their second demo and with regard to this fact, its simple structure was not surprising. The chorus did not offer an extra portion of catchiness and the song as a whole does not belong to my favourite tracks of the band. Nevertheless, the up-tempo approach and the courageous riffing shaped a more than solid headbanger. But the similarly designed "Live to Dive" showed the real talents of the band. The mocking yet friendly lyrics were about a guy with the delicate moniker Pimmel (the German term for "dick"), while the straight tune was driven by grinding riffs that led to a stormy chorus. "666 Packs" did not stand back. It was - almost - on a par with the aforementioned highlight. The song was baptized in a special brew, because it did not lack of tempo changes and surprising guitar licks. Of course, one could not speak of a progressive or highly complicated tune.
The sound was okay and the permanent screams of Gerre possessed the charisma of a still rebellious guy. Accompanied by his well established band mates, he did not lack of passion and attitude. The latter was stressed by a cover of Rose Tattoo. Although it did not follow the band's typical thrash approach, it blended seamlessly with Tankard's own compositions. And despite the unspectacular basic structure of the song, the mental proximity to Angry Anderson and his rocking henchmen lent this piece a special flair. The album was completed by a new and faster version of "(Empty) Tankard". Unfortunately, its natural biosphere is the stage and it cannot fully develop on vinyl. Thus, I did not see a reason for this rerecording, but (surprise, surprise) nobody had asked me for my opinion.
Although "Alien" was ornamented with a considerable artwork, it did not leave a huge impact. How many EPs left a huge impact at all? Nevertheless, "Alien" appeared as a kind of compensation for "The Morning After". Delve into "Live to Dive", if you do not believe me. I am sure that Gerre, you and Pimmel will have a good time.
Alcohol-based thrash? Yeah, don’t mind if I do. German speed nuts Tankard were on such a great run by the release of Alien that I thought they might well break through into thrash premiership that the likes of fellow Germans Kreator had recently found themselves a part of. Their debut album, Zombie Attack, was raw, but full of venom. Its successor, Chemical Invasion, was solid, but contained the worst song (for so many reasons) ever recorded in Farewell To A Slut. But the album before Alien was their best yet; The Morning After saw them take over the other beer band on the block, Gang Green, with aplomb. For some reason though, Alien was only 5 tracks long, a true mini-album. I cannot find the reason why it came out that way, but I’m glad it did. Every song is great and still to this very day when people ask me about thrash, I always steer them towards this record. There just isn’t any filler.
This pretends to be nothing more than a party record. The title track clues the listener in to this with a tale of an alien invasion which annoyed the band to no end not because the human race was facing destruction, but because an individual extraterrestrial ate the band's food. Live To Dive is a stagediving thrash anthem with a smart solo placed just before the breakdown. Remedy is a mid-tempo (for thrash anyway) track that has an AC/DC flavour to it and is easily the most mainstream track the band had produced to date. 666 Packs is my joint favourite track here. Lyrically, it tackles the darker side of thrash, the chants of SATAN! and EVIL! are spurted out all over the place. The whole thing makes no sense at all, yet I could listen to it all day. They also include a snippet of the theme to Jesus Christ Superstar into the mix as well, but it’s utterly ridiculous. The other stone cold classic is one of the greatest moments in thrash metal. (Empty) Tankard is outrageously fast until the closing minute when the coolest riff brings the band and presumably (when they play live) the crowd together in a chant of “We wanna drink some whiskey, we wanna drink some beer”. You can read this and think it sounds not just a little naff, but a whole lotta crap, but let me tell you Tankard may have a limited pool of fans that would even entertain the possibility of listening to them, but those that do, in my book, deserve a slap on the back. Sometimes I don’t want serious. I just wanna thrash. These German nut jobs are providing a service, you know.
Today Tankard still function as an active band, touring and playing festivals, and yes, they still produce great thrash on occasion (15 original albums and counting now) and they all still work day jobs in order to support their families. You wouldn’t still be doing that if you didn’t love it to death and for that we should all raise our glasses to the legend that is Tankard.
My vinyl copy of the Tankard Alien EP is perhaps the greatest gift ever given to me by a college roommate. In this case, the roommate was a chain-blunt smoking Italian who had been living in the states for a few years, and was quite surprised to find that I even knew about this German band, though his own exposure was limited to the short-player in question. What a poseur! I kid, actually, and Mr. Adriano is one of the finest human beings I have ever known, high or otherwise, and not simply because of this generous donation to my never ending adolescent strife.
On to the record itself, Alien consists of 5 tracks total, 4 of which are assuredly a treat to any fan of the band's first three, amazing albums. I'll be honest with you, Tankard 1986-1989 is a pretty monumental period for any band to have, and I have enjoyed the material from it for 20+ years, never once relenting or feeling that is has gone stale. In fact, early Tankard is one of the very few exceptions I make to my 'thrash should not be retarded and unfunny when striving for humor' policy, because there is just something so authentic and charming about a pack of wild Germans who saw Destruction, Sodom and Kreator ripping the lid off of hell or taking a piss on the realm world, and then running in the opposite direction to sing about aliens, alcohol, moshing, and did I mention that they liked to drink?
The Euro-layman humor continues with this material, the best of which would be the three unreleased studio tracks. "Alien" is a sporadic rush of speed metal wildfire with out of control riffing reminiscent of The Morning After or Chemical Invasion with lyrics about an extra terrestrial squatter who stole Gerre's food, sold off his porno magazines and most importantly, drank all of his beers! What the fuck?! Call the men in black. Not cool at all! "666 Packs" is an attempt to take the piss out of commercialized Satanic metal. Now, I'm not aware that much of this really existed...ever, but I guess I'll take their word on it, especially when the music is this fucking KICK-ASS. Note the deep sample in the chorus, and the frothing, ballistic guitar work here. Probably the best song on the EP, but "Live to Dive" does not disappoint either, a frantic high velocity tribute stage diving concert goers, especially those that are drunk and out of their right minds.
Rounding out the experience is a cover of Rose Tattoo's "Remedy", from the Australian hard rock acts' self-titled, 1978 debut. It's obviously not as wild as the new originals, but for what its worth, I had a good time with this. It's fun to hear Gerre and Tankard cover a song like this, since the attitude overlaps so well with their cirrhosis-bound rebellion. Sadly, the band have seen fit to close the EP with "(Empty) Tankard", which already appears on the debut album. It might have been a better idea to just leave this off, or include a live track or some other unreleased studio song, perhaps even one of the band's demos in its entirety, but alas...
Overall, Alien is good and worth tracking down if you're a collector or just some diehard raging German speed/thrash fanatic. If you enjoyed the riffing and vocals of the first three full-lengths, there's no way you're going to wanna miss out on "Alien", "666 Packs" or "Live to Dive", and "Remedy" is probably one of the better cover songs they've released (they've got a few on some of their albums through the years), paying tribute to a band worthy of much more attention the world over.
I always respected this band for the sincere, genuine music and the funny image and lyrics they produced. The music itself is always quite violent and “in your face”, typical of the classic German thrash. Despite the fun image they have, the music is far heavier without noisy and silly parts. In this case, with “Alien” EP, we find an always compact band that decided the re-record some old songs to make them better. Being old ones, the more punk influences were still quite present.
This EP starts with the title track that features punk riffage and fast up tempo parts. The refrain is sung in a chorus and the whole band plays truly compact and seems truly full of energy. “666 Packs” is good for the remarkable axe men work which, with their technique, can create a maze of riffs. The rhythms are a bit slower here but the impact is always assured. The production is very good and 80s enough as it’s meant to be for a thrash metal album.
The vocals by Gerre are always quite schizophrenic without resulting noisy or too exaggerated. “Live To Dive” is a short song-impact that reflects in a perfect way the title. The palm muting riffs are relentless and fast. “Remedy” is again punk in the style but incredibly funny with good solos too and “(Empty) Tankard” is great for the main riff at the beginning and the following mosh thrash/punk hyper fast tempo. One of the best songs ever by this band.
All in all, a good EP that is not totally necessary if you got the other albums but surely worth a listen because this band is always very good. More beer for Tankard!!
Not much ti say here actually... some of these songs are from the first albums and demos, just that the vocals have changed, and Tankard have become better in playing their tunes(after The Morning After this EP was needed because some songs on Zombie Attack and the demos sound awful). Anything bad was now improved, and not just that - the songs are wild and richer with excellent guitarplay and insane drumming. Now... the 2 songs a person should really get a grip on are 666 Packs and Live To Dive. 666 Packs is a all time thrash classic seen only in this EP and nowhere else in Tankard's history. Surely making fun of satanism, and certain stupid and foolish ideas linked to it should be laughet at! All of this combined with energic riffs and great vocals bring us a thrash metal song - Satan - Good with numbers? Join our cult!!! LOL. Live to dive is another great song showing this guys don't need no posing and need not to prove themselfs to others(heh, I could be a great philosopher...). I should not mention the RIFFS!
Probably one of the finest thrash metal EP's. You can't get it, but try downloading it.