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Abstinence is curable - 69%

Felix 1666, October 26th, 2015
Written based on this version: 1992, CD, Noise Records

We are used to speaking of thrash metal bands, but perhaps we are talking of a chimera. How many bands have always stood loyal to this unbelievably interesting genre? When thinking about the so-called "Big Teutonic 4", their careers shape an ambivalent picture. Despite their undisputed merits, we cannot ignore non-thrashing albums such as "Endorama" (new wave metal), "Masquerade in Blood" (crooked punk-inspired eruptions) or "The Tankard" (indefinable). And do not force me to talk about "The Least Successful Human Cannonball". Therefore, we should rather speak about the thrash metal years. After having taken the first steps, the genre revealed its full explosive force in 1985 and 1986. The classic albums of these years have this undeniable overdose of temperament, pioneering spirit and unconcern. Afterwards thrash metal began to dilapidate quickly.

Tankard's fifth album cannot hide the fact that it was definitely not released during the aforementioned years. The band lacks of enthusiasm and the stunning aura of creating something completely new is missing. While seeking its niche to play this kind of adult thrash, the once untameable Germans create some fairly powerless tunes. Well, some tracks possess the necessary amount of belligerence and the old spirit of the genre shimmers through. The lively opener, "Broken Image" or "Lost and Found (Tantrum Part 2)" can be filed in this category. The latter one also builds a bridge to the past in lyrical terms while continuing the story of a song of "Chemical Invasion". But its slightly groovy, predominantly straight arrangement is much more exciting. Gerre adds that certain touch of insanity while watching out for the beer he has lost back in 1987. However, all these fine pieces cannot wipe away the impression that we are sometimes listening to the results of weekend thrashers. Fairly aggressive lines are combined with anaemic choruses. "Mind Wild", "Ugly Beauty", "Sleeping With the Past", "Behind the Back", all these songs fail to deliver stunning moments. Aggravating the situation, the band offers its repertory in a rather experienced manner instead of spreading boundless energy. Maybe it is the tragic of this genre that a gain in experience often goes hand in hand with a (contemporary) loss of temperament.

The biggest surprise awaits us at the end of the album. The final number is an almost progressive instrumental with a playtime of more than seven minutes. A lot of tempo changes and an overdose of different lines are cleverly put together. Due to its fairly oriental touch, the song is fittingly titled. "Of Strange Talking People Under Arabian Skies" generates many different moods and fires the imagination. Ten songs with this configuration would be problematic, at least under the banner of Tankard. But as an isolated case, this carefully thought out number definitely adds value to the album. "Freibier" and "Centerfold" are placed at the other end of the scale of complexity. The first one is a simple thrasher with primitive German lyrics, the second one is a cover of the J. Geils Band. Hopefully you agree that there are a lot of worse pop songs that can attack your good taste. Yet Tankard fail to revitalize the refreshing power of this number. Especially the background choirs sound somewhat thin. Speaking of the sound in general, it does not show serious shortcomings, although it lacks a bit of liveliness.

At the end of the day, "Stone Cold Sober" is neither a jewel in Tankard's discography nor a disappointment. Its number of mediocre, meaningless pieces cannot be overlooked, but some really strong tracks appear as a kind of compensation for these downers. Furthermore, we must consider the fact that this album did not follow the zeitgeist and its fantastic cover made me grin. Just listen to the aforementioned highlights and have a good time.

You don't need beer to thrash this hard - 90%

slayrrr666, April 26th, 2013

The controversial fifth release from Germany’s hardest drinkers in Tankard, “Stone Cold Sober,” is perhaps the groups’ most overall thrash-intensive effort and really shows the band has plenty to offer when they put the drinks down and really get down to business.

Frankly, the most shocking thing about the album is the fact that the band is so good at delivering intense thrashing songs without including any of the intentionally goofy or silly lyrics they made their name on, deciding instead to focus on melding their hyper-aggressive thrash style with this newfound sense of dynamic thrash riffing to create a total monster of an album and one of the best in their career. This is mostly reflected in the first half which has almost zero influence of being a Tankard album but is an honest and refreshingly mature overall effort. Maturity is the key word here, as with the goofiness behind them and instead forced to write truer thrash songs, they hit all that much harder since the band was able to actually write songs during their career and the focus that gives them is impressive enough to deliver a rousing, chaotic ride that’s better than most of their inebriated efforts. As the songs are propelled forward by technically-proficient drumming, off-the-charts guitar riffing throughout and a sense of thrash-laced dynamics for when to go for the overkill of speed and when to hold it back into a mid-tempo chug, there’s hardly any down-spots on the album and from start-to-finish it’s littered with potential classics.

As usual on a Tankard album, the first half is the best and features many of their best work overall. Wild opener ‘Jurisdiction’ is a totally chaotic thrasher filled with pulsing energy despite no signs of their punk influence, lots of raging double-bass and groove, almost as if it was a traditional thrash act rather than Tankard playing over the song. Almost better is ‘Broken Image,’ it’s technically accomplished riffing, punchy vibe and great rhythms providing another quality fast track. The technically-rife ‘Mindwild’ is another upbeat effort with great drumming and spiced with melodic mid-section, while ‘Ugly Beauty’ and the title track are just straight-up full-throttle thrashers pulsed with insane tempos, raging riffs and pounding drums with fantastic solo-work and enough melody to remain memorable and exciting, ending the first half on a great note.

There’s a few missteps here, though, most notably The J. Geils Band cover ‘Centerfold’ which is too chaotic and wild to fit in this spot in the running order, despite a great sense of attitude and energy that makes an attempt to make it seem like an original effort. Rather, this is a placement issue with the song that would’ve been better served ending the album rather than stuck smack in the middle of the album where it’s plain to see and causes it to stick out quite a bit. For those wishing for some experimentation, the opening of ‘Behind the Back’ contains a funk-inspired bass riff to start with before turning into a double-bass laden but remains devoid of the energy usually found in a Tankard song. Otherwise, the rest of the second half is pretty much run-of-the-mill efforts with ‘Blood, Guts and Rock’n’Roll’ standing out with some exceptional riff-work and a totally chaotic drum-pattern that’s quite impressive to hear. ‘Lost and Found’ and ‘Freibier’ are both raging thrashers as well but don’t make as much of an impression due to the quality of the material found elsewhere on here despite these being pretty much still quality tracks. The extraordinary instrumental epic ‘Of Strange Talking People Under Arabian Skies’ that closes the album is quite a diversion as well, being so unique and unquestionably-Tankard that it seems to be a derivation enough to work under the circumstances given to it, and thus ends the album quite nicely and giving this release one of the best in Tankard’s career.

Nothing sober about this, so grab a drink or GTFO - 70%

autothrall, June 17th, 2010

I seem to recall a bit of mixed feelings for Tankard's fifth opus Stone Cold Sober, which is confusing as this album is clearly nothing but the sum of the band's previous parts, another one way trip to the barroom floor after an evening of righteous excess and indignation. It's got the speed of The Morning After or Chemical Invasion, a slew of decent if maybe not enthralling riffs, and the lyrics are anything BUT sober, as the band levels the bartender with "Freibier", the great title track and a dose of "Blood, Guts & Rock'n'Roll". Perhaps it would be best to ignore all the fuckwittery out there and just be honest: this is a good Tankard record whose only flaw is a lack of real staying power.

I'm saying there is no "Shit-Faced" here, no "Commandments" and no "Zombie Attack", despite the best intentions of a fast paced flurry like "Ugly Beauty" or "Behind the Back". Some of the better tracks here put a slightly new spin on the material, like the winding rock & roll hyperactivity emanated by "Mindwild" or the uncontrollably, uncharacteristic instrumental epic "Of Strange Talking People Under Arabian Skies" that tapers off the record. However, you'll do just as well with the jawbreaking sledgehammer speed traditions of a "Sleeping With the Past" or the 'sequel' song "Lost and Found (Tantrum Pt. 2)".

As far as its sheer riffing capacity, it is "Stone Cold Sober" which might prove the one track to outlive its environment. The verse is pretty typical mid paced rocking Tankard, but it picks up into some fine speed-licks that pump and piss like a line of soccer hooligans at an after party. If I were to draft up a 'greatest of' playlist for this German national treasure, this would be the one tune from the album I would insist on including. "Freibier" and "Blood, Guts & Rock'Roll" make for a fun rundown to the pavement, but they're not quite as immortal. However, no critique of Stone Cold Sober could be complete without mentioning the hilarious cover of the J. Geils Band's "Centerfold", which sounds adorable beneath Gerre's navigation and the punchy transformation of the riffs, blunt chords replacing the original organ tones.

All of these elements add up to an entertaining burn of debauchery, just enough for you to wind up in a jail cell, though you'll get out in the morning with an appropriate hangover that causes you to conveniently forget most of the previous evening's festivities, other than the strange stains and random pieces of clothing you might be wearing. It's a little more brash than its underrated predecessor The Meaning of Life, and not quite so chalk full of riffing goodness as the following Two-Faced, but it'll do in a pinch, and with the beer goggles on it's a clear 7.5.

-autothrall
http://www.fromthedustreturned.com

Tankard’s Worst - 50%

Warpig, June 25th, 2009

Usually you can judge by the first two songs of a Tankard album what to expect from the rest (exceptions: "Chemical Invasion" ("Tantrum") and "Two Faced"). If the first two songs are great, the rest of the album is (more or less) great, if these songs are mediocre the rest of the album is (more or less) mediocre and if only one of the two songs is not a real Thrash Metal song ("The Tankard") the respective album is only remotely Thrash.

Stylistically the first two songs, "Jurisdiction" and "Broken Image" are just like any of the opening songs from any other Tankard album with Arnulf Tunn or Olaf Zissel on drums (apart from "The Tankard", of course). The only difference is the quality, because what works out so brilliantly on the newer records (with Zissel on drums) doesn't simply work here.

Although there is nothing really bad about these songs (the production is top notch, the musicianship is good, the songs are fast and heavy), they are just sooo mediocre - the riffs, the vocals, the choruses, the breaks... everything. The beginning of "Broken Image" is really good actually and if they had made a song out of it, i.e. if they had, let's say, used the first riff for the verses and the second one for the choruses and repeated the whole thing three times, they probably had had one of the highlights of this album! But no, 43 seconds into the song all hope is lost, and instead of having a good (punkish) song (see "Freibier"), we hear some mediocre Thrash Metal.

And the rest? Mediocre Thrash Metal ("Blood, Guts & Rock ‘n' Roll", "Mindwild", "Sleeping With The Past" (really nice chorus though)) and mediocre Thrash Metal with a few mid tempo parts in between ("Ugly Betty", "Behind The Back", "Lost And Found").

I think in 1992 Tankard couldn't have written a decent Thrash song even if their lives had depended on it! Therefore the only highlights on this album are the songs that deviate from the Thrash formula, i.e. the J. Geils Band cover "Centerfold", the brilliant 6 minute long, extremely catchy and diverse title track and the punkish "Freibier". The instrumental at the end called "Of Strange People Talking Under Arabian Skies" is good, but it's not quite on par with "its predecessor", the great "For A Thousand Beers" from "Chemical Invasion".

After the disappointing "The Meaning Of Life" I had really hoped for an improvement, but things got even worse and Tankard finally hit rock bottom with the thoroughly mediocre "Stone Cold Sober". By that time I didn't really believe that Tankard would be able to put out a great record again...

Tankard - Stone Cold Sober - 94%

FrayedEndsOfSanity39, September 15th, 2004

A must have for any thrash fan. Recorded at a time when thrash was beginning to disappear, the release of Stone Cold Sober offered the genre something to look forward to. Filled with fast deafening riffs and the classic thrash vocals Tankard does so well, it's an improvement from Zombie Attack and Chemical Invasion, not too discredit these two great albums. This is a prime example of true German thrash.

The first track sets the pace for the rest of Stone Cold Sober. It begins rough and rapid with Jurisdiction. Screaming "Fuck The Law" and denouncing the greedy politicians, rich, etc., gives an early example of how raw this cd is. The fast skilled riffs don't stop. This is reassured by track 2 Broken Mirrors. After hearing the gnarly chorus you'll be thrilled with the record.

Ugly Beauty and Centerfold are fun to listen to back to back. Thus they're conveniently track numbers four and five. The songs sound totally contradicting, but Ugly Beauty is so true. The song tells a story, which is something different than a lot of the repetitive new metal you hear these days. Centerfold, is a cover of a J. Geils Band song from 1981. Tankard molds it into a faster thrash version. It's rather funny and I could listen to it for hours. Centerfold can get stuck in your head, but who cares, it's still enjoyable. And of course, you can't listen to Tankard without a beer to drink, or could you? Yep, according to Stone Cold Sober they sing about how they have given up on beer. Whether they're under the influence or not, this album is magnificent. Stone Cold Sober continues to rule throughout the rest of the tracks. Not a bad song in the entire mix.

In conclusion, if you're a thrash fan and are lacking Stone Cold Sober, you must quickly visit the nearest cd shop and fill this blasphemous vacancy. There's not a negative opinion to include in this review. It's probably my favorite Tankard album, and high on the list of the all time top metal records. Stone Cold Sober! Pure Gritty Violent German Thrash!!