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A Mad Scientist's favorite brew. - 88%

hells_unicorn, December 30th, 2013

In metal, as in all crafts, even the most campy of projects goes through some form of evolution, and sometimes it's not a gradual one. The massive strides being taken in thrash metal between 1984 and 1987 were particularly massive, and Germany's fun-loving, beer guzzling with an occasional side show of politics or horror Tankard found themselves in a strong, yet slightly behind the curve situation when they unleashed "Zombie Attack". For an album released at the height of the darker side of thrash metal and a progressive offshoot also in the works, their style had a bit more of an early/mid 80s speed metal tilt to it that made it sound like it should have hit the waves back in 1985 when they were still in the demo stage of things. Enter an opportunity for a jarring mutation, though thankfully not an awry one in "Chemical Invasion", an album that is musically quite serious in comparison to its predecessor, even if the album art is only slightly less comical.

While Tankard's sophomore effort is definitely a full out thrash assault to the max, it's also still tempered by a helping of musically comical elements at times, much like their socially conscious New York counterparts Nuclear Assault. Most of this album is locked in high-octane territory, smashing neck-bones with an impressive array of crunchy riffs and blinding beats, but a sideshow of eclecticism rears it's head, culminating in a number of quirky and occasionally brilliant moments. While mostly a crazed festival of intensity and speed the Destruction model, "Farewell To A Slut" has this almost "Friday The 13th" inspired interlude section with this creepy interlude that comes seemingly out of nowhere. Likewise, the intro to the title song "Chemical Assault" starts off on a cliche blues riff like something off of Nuclear Assault's "The Plague" or Megadeth's venture into similar territory on their cover of "I Ain't Superstitious", but then quickly launches into breakneck territory something fierce.

Most auspicious of this album's differing traits with relation to its predecessor is the pair of long-winded thrashers lodged dead in the middle. It's not hard to see where a multifaceted mixture of classical music balladry and technical guitar work like "For A Thousand Beers" came into play with this band given the leaps in evolution inspired by "Master Of Puppets", and though this album didn't receive the same posh production that Metallica's much lauded 3rd album did, this song comes off as far more engaging and dynamic than any of the repetitive ballad work of said opus. "Traitor" works a bit differently, coming off more like a conventional thrasher with frequent slower sections and a heavy amount of lead guitar work, largely comparable to the same Kirk Hammett line of methodical shredding heard on "Zombie Attack", but slightly more flashy. Come to think of it, the only area where Metallica's direct influence isn't really coming through anymore is Gerre's vocals, which have a bit more of a high-end snarl to them and listen much closer to Schmier.

Though this album gets a bit faster than its predecessor and has a few more tricks up its sleeve, the debut has a slight edge in terms of memorability. At times, this album almost seems like it tries a bit too hard to ratchet up the technical side and ends up overdoing it. Nevertheless, there are plenty of measured and power fits of hard-partying with a heavy end to be enjoyed here, particularly the first 3 actual songs where the band opts to keep things simple and by the numbers, forsaking the gimmickry and comedy for a straight up dose of mad moshing mayhem. If you can picture Exodus's "Pleasures Of The Flesh" combined with Destruction's "Eternal Devastation", this doesn't fall too far from it when considering the likes of "Total Addiction" and "Don't Panic". Whatever experimental substance the mad scientist used to spike Tankard's drinks with, it definitely caused them to have much nimbler fingers and a bit more edge to their overall sound.