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Tankist > Unhuman > Reviews
Tankist - Unhuman

Old school thrash metal with potential - 70%

kluseba, March 28th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2017, CD, Independent (Limited edition)

Tankist is an Estonia thrash metal quartet and Unhuman is the group's first full length effort. The group sounds as if it came straight out of the eighties. Its uncompromising sound reminds of Exodus' and Slayer's early works.

Powerful riffs and melodic guitar solos meet an up-tempo rhythm section and raspy vocals. From time to time, the band varies with a few short and fluid changes in pace and also adds a few dissonant guitar sounds from time to time. The straight production is the right choice for this type of music. The lyrics deal with all types of topics such as religious terrorism and social criticism. Even the colourful cover artwork and album title blend in perfectly.

My favorite song on the record is the gloomy ''Miserytomb'' that is a little bit slower than the other tracks and also features a few atmospheric organ sounds while the vocals sound harsher and throatier than usual. Imagine a mixture between Celtic Frost and King Diamond and you have a good idea of what this album highlight sounds like.

The main problem with Unhuman is that Tankist hasn't quite found its own style yet and that the tracks get somewhat repetitive after a while. Unhuman is a blast to listen to once or twice but nothing truly memorable. If the band fleshed out its changes in pace and dissonant influences a little bit more, it could become a very respectable progressive or technical thrash metal band in the key of Coroner and Voivod.

Fans of old school thrash metal should give Tankist's Unhuman a few spins. Those who are looking for something new and unique will have to look elsewhere.

Warped excursion into the past - 74%

Lane, March 24th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2017, CD, Independent (Limited edition)

Estonian band Tankist have released a new thrash metal album, that is old school stuff done in 2010s. Nothing new there, but whereas so many bands just sound so much like Exodus, Slayer, Testament or whatever, music-wise 'Unhuman' sounds like it actually was from 1980s. Definitely not a carbon copy of any band here.

Tankist sound like a bastard mutant child of old Finnish thrashers such as Airdash, Prestige and Stone, US legends such as Slayer, Vio-lence and Nuclear Assault, plus some early German hordes like Deathrow and Exumer. Chaotic and dissonant parts give a feeling of old Voivod. They also have some blackened vibes going on, reminding of Venom and Mercyful Fate at times. Just to name some kind of bands in which kind of area Tankist operate... Wait a bit, I need to throw another one in: Polish band Astharoth and their sole album 'Gloomy Experiments' from 1990. Now, if this list of bands doesn't get you excited, I suggest you move on to some other review. Thrash technicality, punky vibes and evil-sounding moments are alloyed. Tankist have found their niche.

Riffs play a huge part in Tankist's music, as expected. The band also incorporate some melodiousness here and there. Often these melodic lead guitar bits and solos, too, are quite weird or insane-sounding, but there also are some really ear-catching things. To make it s tad more alien, they are reverbed to some extent. The rhythm guitar tone is sharp and rusty, very much fittingly brutal. Loads of shredding done. The bass often travels its own path, putting itself out nicely. Rhythms change a lot. That's another major trait of the band. Mainly the music is on faster side, but there are some mid-paced moments. One same beat isn't repeated for a long time. It's not rare, that songwriting can take a listener by surprise every now and then; this is not radio-friendly music, nor is it basic 1-2-3-4 rhythms all the time. The production is kind of dry and cold, but it also allows every elements to be heard. Reminds me of Finnish thrash pancakes put out in early 1990s. It's lovely ancient, but it still booms. Well, at least bass guitar and bass and tom drums do. It is rather trebly.

The vocals are... Well, nothing too typical. Mostly it is about clean or a bit raspy vocalization, that reminds me of King Diamond's non-falsetto singing. Shouting, growling and howling are also heard, but it could be more powerful. However, they are performed by a guitarist, so... Gang vocals are also used at times. The lyrics make one think how much things have changed during past 3 decades: Politics, drugs, terrorism, religions, polluting the planet, and the perpetrator for all these, human. Plastic is a newer topic, as the planet is drowning in it.

In all, Tankist's debut platter 'Unhuman' is a cool excursion into the past. Plus, it is impossible to categorize properly, just like many of old metal bands are. So, no dread of djent or metalcore here, ha! Get your face ripped of and your brain drilled with this small old school gem made with full affection to all things archaic in metal music scene.

(Originally written for ArchaicMetallurgy.com)

Stick a fork in him, guys, he's Phineas Gage now - 85%

Pepsiman, February 1st, 2018
Written based on this version: 2017, CD, Independent (Limited edition)

So Estonia might play a disproportionate role in your life. It's the home of Skype, Subspace Continuum, and now the folks from Tankist have upped its metal quotient by releasing their full length debut. To get it out of the way - Tankist plays a form of speed/thrash metal that wouldn't be out of place in that genre's mid/late-1980s heyday. They also have the benefits of modern studio technology and distribution, so when it came time to listen to this album, I went in eager to hear what they could do with this tried and true formula.

As far as I'm concerned, this recording is of two minds. On Unhuman, Tankist seems to channel the looser, punkier, more crossover flavored side of thrash - not so much in the proto-death metal way that a band like Carnivore or Dead Horse did, but still in a way that recalls the contemporaneous hardcore of the time. On the other hand, Tankist also sounds like they draw inspiration from the more technically advanced realms of speed/thrash, at least in the sense that their guitar section throws in some angular, dissonant riffs for good measure. Between that and the frequent abrupt tempo changes, you end up with a product that has a lot more me-candy (your mileage may vary) and musical depth than I initially expected before I actually sat down and listened to the album.

Unhuman's strengths and weaknesses, in my opinion, boil down to the fact that it's unstable and unhinged. On the instrumental/vocal side, this is entirely a plus; it makes for an aesthetic I appreciate. I've already mentioned how the guitars contribute to this - the vocals are also a major contribution. The obvious comparison, as far as I'm concerned, is Tom Araya of Slayer fame, although Tankist's vocalist (Kevin Marks) averages a lower register and puts on a more diverse performance in the process. The main weakness comes in the song structures. I don't know how much emphasis the band puts on song density, but there are some issues at times with how they string together song sections. It's not easy when you try to incorporate as many types of material as Tankist does, and they generally succeed, but as far as I'm concerned, this is probably the best area for them to work on for their next album.

Before you ask, yes, I am looking forwards to future content from Tankist, given how generally good Unhuman turned out. My previous experience with modern thrash metal has often lead me to expect simpler, more direct fare (the occasional Vektor aside), so when you get something more ambitious like this album, it's always a pleasure.

Disclaimer: I received a promotional copy of this album in return for an honest review. Originally written for invisiblesandwichtm.wordpress.com

A fine modern thrash album - 88%

BlackMetal213, January 28th, 2018

Last November, Tankist released their first full-length album "Unhuman" independently, on no record label. I had not listened to the band's previous stuff but while I was on Holiday leave this last December, I was presented with an opportunity to give "Unhuman" a listen. And I'm fairly pleased with what I'm hearing on this album! Tankist is a thrash metal band from Estonia, which is fairly unique to me because while I do listen to quite a few metal bands from Eastern Europe, Estonia isn't really a country that automatically comes to my mind. Tankist, however, really do have a bright future ahead of them if they stay the course and continue what they're doing.

Upon browsing these reviews before actually listening to the album, I see a lot of comparisons to classic thrash metal bands, specifically Slayer but also to a lesser extent, Kreator. Sure, there are similarities to Slayer here and there with some of the darker riffs such as the intro to "Suffo6ion" which builds up fairly nice, but to be honest, this doesn't just sound like a Slayer clone. It's good to hear a modern thrash band really embrace a more unique, original sound, which seems to be a bit rare nowadays. Sure, I don't mind when bands emulate those of old because of obvious influence, but Tankist does offer a bit of a fresh outtake on thrash.

So, the riffs. Yes, the riffs! This album, as one could expect, is riff driven. It alternates between the faster, galloping riffs heard on songs like "I Know What You Are!" during the intro and specific segments within the song, and "Just Another Union" which features some of the best soloing on the album, as well as slower to more mid-paced numbers like the aforementioned "Suffo6ion", "Choose Death", and "Miserytomb". Really, though, most of these songs do have alternating paces and don't just stick to one the entire song. The solos on this album are extremely abundant. Solos pop up on every song and usually appear more than once or even twice. While there are a ton of solos, they aren't just there for the sake of throwing them in. They do actually serve a purpose to the music and add so much to it. Just like the drums, and the bass that comes up fairly audible in certain tracks like "Miserytomb", they are standard for thrash metal but manage to take a fresh spin on the genre. Speaking of a fresh spin, the drums are also worth noting. There is a blast beat segment on "Miserytomb" as well and it sounds really cool. It's not a frantic blast by any means and doesn't border on death metal or black metal or something like that, and they're short, but it's fairly neat and can be heard later in the latter half of the song.

Vocally, this album really works the classic thrash sound. Here, I can see a bit of a comparison to Tom Araya but they aren't just ripped off of the Slayer handbook. They're frantic and have a shouting, yelling sound to them and while you won't really get any melodic singing here, you're not supposed to! "Unhuman" is a solid album and I can't wait to see what these Estonians come up with next. It's always good to hear something refreshing and revitalizing in metal, especially thrash!

“Four Tankists, Four Happy Friends…” - 81%

bayern, January 12th, 2018

I had to modify this popular Russian song a bit cause in this case we have four tankists, not three… and they have decided to resume the fight on the Eastern front with this tribute to the good old thrash, and prove themselves worthy followers to the legacy of their legendary compatriot, the hard rock/metal pioneer Gunnar Graps (R.I.P.).

To be quite honest, I haven’t been following the Estonian metal scene very closely, a shame I know, and except for the death metal outfits Rattler (ties with the band here) and Misdeed I have problems recalling other names from there immediately… well, with this new brigade in action things may, and should, change although reading the good old thrash one should bear in mind that this doesn’t mean a complete surrender to the old school canons; the band’s delivery mixes the old with the modern school although it doesn’t quite resemble any other practitioner per se as the overall approach is quite jumpy and not always predictable, a good example of it being “Just Another Union”, a meandering semi-technical piece with a hectic tempo alternation, the abrasive, mechanical guitar sound creating cold, alien atmosphere. “Choose Death” is another pleasant more technical surprise, a nervy shredder which is very close to reaching the lofty standards of masterpieces like Altered Aeon’s “Dispiritism” and Returner’s “The Black Notes”; and “Miserytomb” is a very interesting, openly bizarre at times, combination of Voivod’s “Negatron” and the bleak dystopian landscapes of acts like Zillah and Klast; a creepy mind-scratching proposition that moves away from any established norm so far, the semblance of normality, and arguably conformity, brought back by the more retro-sounding headbanger “The Plastic Age” which is rather the “Classic Age” with the old school vigour reflected in impetuous gallops and a dark Slayer-esque vibe.

Don’t expect two in a row, though, on this diverse roller-coaster as “Suffo6ion” is another piece of minimalistic weirdness with seismic stomping developments and more intriguing semi-technical accumulations, the leads playing a very good role as the melodic mediator. “Waste of Bones” is another nod to the old school served in a more carefree crossover manner, the obligatory outlandish element being the ultra-stylish virtuoso leads the guy simply revelling in his dexterity, spoiling the festive atmosphere with the textbook-neat Shrapnel-like pirouettes. “Godspear” has no claims at any lustrous ways of execution being a monotonous hypnotic mid-pacer, but “Conveyor Gate” largely makes up for this brief lapse of originality with mind-scratching riff-formulas, twisted melodic tunes, and wayward speedy excursions that carry on on “I Know Who You Are!”, another diverse, not very predictable ride with spacey psychedelic additives circling above the picturesque carnival where more energetic twists take turns with mellower pounding strokes, the whole amalgam having this eccentric, otherworldly feel that is not easy to describe with just a few words.

In a way quite similar to the Americans Combat’s “Ruination”, the band use the thrash metal frame to weave their own thing, without obeying any (un)written rules, the final product again difficult to categorize. It comes as one sterile brand of cyber-thrash that passes through several nuances each of which leaving its lasting, memorable trace on it including the warmer classic-prone ones. There’s this rampant stream-of-consciousness-like creative flow at play the guys not willing to put bridles on their imagination regardless of where it may take them. There was also this danger towards the middle when the offbeat connection threatened to take the approach into more abstract territories where eclectic outfits like Mandroid of Krypton, Goats, and Droid reside, but once this moment was gone, the modern/classic unorthodox thrash fiesta seldom fluctuates from the (ab)norm.

Still, one never knows how things would turn out on subsequent instalments; the mentioned Combat only flirted which such infinite possibilities without exploring them further. Shall we expect the same from our tankists here? Well, tankists usually don’t beat about the bush; they find the target and shoot fast and straight, without any ado. But from the ones here I have the feeling we can’t expect any mercy, humane killings.

Only human. - 70%

aglasshouse, December 29th, 2017
Written based on this version: 2017, CD, Independent (Limited edition)

Tankist came into the fray a few years back with little more than a "rage against" attitude and a deep-seated love for thrash acts of yore. Though this motivation alone has rarely done your average garage band favors, it combined with the talents of this Estonian group to make promise back in 2015 with their EP Be Offended. The obvious Megadeth influence combined with a decently virtuous technicality to their songwriting made them at least stand out from the hordes of modern thrash bands drenched in glittery production and faux-aggression.

Now that two years have passed in the wake of this EP and Tankist have had definite time to grow, how exactly do they fare with the daunting task of a full length LP? Not bad, turns out. There's a definite upspike in production quality, following in the footsteps of the slew of standalone singles the band put out last year. The technical riffage is still present on many of the songs, such as 'The Plastic Age' and 'I Know What You Are!', that see Unhuman not necessarily ascending to the insanity that was Vektor's Terminal Redux, but definitely as an album with a certain level of prowess. It can't be denied that, as a mega-fan of Atheist, technicality is disavowed by any means. Similarly, things like the Voivod influence in Kevin Marks' voice, the Anvil-esque drum sound of Simo Atso, the aforementioned Megadeth sound (present mainly in many of the riffs), and other light nods to what are perhaps Tankists' influencers give the album a sort of warmness and appeal to any even slightly well-versed thrash metal fan.

Tankist aren't perfect legends though, as they do have some issues. While Unhuman might contain rather fresh ideas for the thrash metal scene, it also showcases some of the most laughably cliched ideas in thrash's history. For instance, 'Conveyor Care' does little in the way of interesting the listener not only by having a weak bass sound, but also by having a very lackluster middle section of a simple thrash 4/4 backing a weak string of riffs. Also at times Tankist can seem a bit too entrenched in their influences, bringing out the cheese of 80's metal with things like the silly "I ain't done with you yet!" voice clip at the end of 'I Know What You Are!', and similarly the occasional laughable excitement in Marks' vocals. I mean, I'm glad the dude's having fun, but sometimes is definitely ruins the mood.

However for such an obscure group as Tankist, I can readily admit how much taste these guys have for their craft. Unhuman is no rampaging monster, but it does have quite the bark nonetheless. In all, I believe with the burgeoning talents these Estonians possess, they definitely have the capability to deliver some "fucking fist-in-the-face" songs to me in the future, cause they weren't too far off this time around.

Welcome To The Plastic Age - 83%

CHAIRTHROWER, December 26th, 2017
Written based on this version: 2017, CD, Independent (Limited edition)

Holy mackerel! If you’re searching for waspish yet fresh and original thrash well-versed in “politburo" topics as well as recent terrorist fueled bedlam look no further than Võru, Estonia’s Tankist and its mind-raping full-length debut, Unhuman, which features nine protean face-scrapers sure to leave an indelible mark on the listener whether they’re old thrash hands or relative genre tenderfoots.

My immediate impression of the rapidly spreading and educing riffs is that of cracked glass swiftly fracturing into a spider-webbed mosaic as they readily fix my unsuspecting brain-pan in a similarly irreparable state. While the drumming is eclectic and disjointed throughout rest assured its overall arrangement shiftily suits the bizarre “revolting n’ revolving” musicianship, from the frenzied, ever-changing guitar parts to equally animated bass lines, penetrating and piercing as they are.

Opener “Just Another Union” justifiably rants and raves about the country’s historically nefarious annexing to “Mother” Russia (wry, sardonic emoji here) while providing an egregious and vivid glimpse of what’s to come; namely, fast, schizophrenic guitar riffs/bass lines and whirling haywire solos backed by some seriously rough & tumble drumming which switches gear at the drop of a shredded hat. The nastily delivered vocals bring to mind a volatile mixture of Anthrax, Suicidal Tendencies and S.O.D. (Storm troopers of Death!), especially during the weird keyboard infused punk-like breakdown three quarters into “Miserytomb”. Lyrically, I can wholly relate to the societal lambastings at hand; in an incessantly technologically advancing World which advocates “convenience or death” and where folks, in 2017, don’t need to face themselves some of the verses are damn cathartic, notably those on “Plastic Age”:

"With conveyors life is fed
until there's the planet Dead.
Wipe the forests, worship drastic
holy deity god of plastic.

You are rot!
Human slot!
Eyes and head that are hollow
is what you got!

Equinox of burning knives,
faux faces, legit unlives.
You fake you, I fake a grin:
pseudo-skin, no mind within.
Cook crisis, sham solutions…”

I was also impressed by the gang’s erudite (if not grim) depiction of the tragic – but one of all-too many – terrorist attack last year in Nice, France on “Choose Death”, for all intents and purposes a track about those lost souls willing to waywardly slay “the infidels” in the name of Allah while falling for the whole “40 virgins awaiting in Paradise” claptrap. Unreal! “Conveyor Care”, for its part, reads like something lifted off a Carcass album, with its unsavory amalgam of industrial and medical turns of phrase and word formations.

A few of my preferred tracks include “Suffo6ion” and “Waste of Bones”; the former is a despondent and down picked squealing thrasher which arduously seizes the listener by the neck with its grimy mitts until a kooky, ghostly solo gamely wheezes a sordid swath of fury coasting to further razor sharp riffing harangues topped by heart-stopping chthonian grooves laden with barreling drums whilst the latter is a razzle-dazzle jumble of upper-cutting riffs dominated by hair-splitting chops which leave me shaking like a demented marionette until a voluble and throttling about-face in the form of additional loony bin relegating leads. The irate and primitive anthem which is “Godspear” features a gripping, boxy and shivering guitar riff along with meaty, thumping beats and demonic vocals further expunging Tankist’s pungent signature vitriol.

What’s most impressive though is the fact none of the tracks are repetitive – not an easy feat when it comes to thrash. The twin guitars and polymorphic battery eschew cookie cut patterns while allowing for repeated listens thanks to all the little nuances and derivative tangents within. The vocals may be the band's weak link as they’re more or less par for the course. Nevertheless they ravishingly behoove the explosive, if not psychotic instrumentation. The elaborate death metal/sci-fi sounding closer “I Know What You Are!” also upholds this sentiment.

I’ve slowly but surely come to realize thrash metal is not all slapdash, emergency vehicle sounding leads or mayhem fuelled and immaturely vented rhythms but a form of dark art which parallels Tankist’s morbid yet modernist cover art. As far as this Estonian outfit is concerned, I can now lay claim to its benefits alongside fellow recently discovered thrashers Enclave, Released Anger and Untimely Demise. That said, it’s safe to say this release is "more unhuman than unhuman". Recommended to all metal heads!

Modern Thrash Record Worthy to be Praised - 85%

felix headbanger, December 26th, 2017
Written based on this version: 2017, CD, Independent (Limited edition)

Tankist is a thrash metal quartet hailing from a country in Northern Europe called Estonia. "Unhuman", the band's debut full-length album which I am reviewing today, is actually the very first material from the band that I had access to and heard of. Prior to listening to this full-length, I never had heard of these guys yet. And man how I regret not discovering them earlier because they sure know how to put out a good retro thrash metal offering that pays homage to the forefathers of the genre.

"Unhuman" holds nine catchy and heavy songs which will give the listeners a nostalgia of the early years and development of the thrash metal genre. Every element of this studio album flows together very well with one another. Every track here is tight, and each is packed to the brim with memorable riffs that'll never let the audiences get bored. The guitar riffs present in here are very intense. Intense in the manner that it'll take you back to the raw era of Kreator, Sepultura, and Slayer. Fast picking guitar riffs, with chords that are adequately assembled, are evidently existing in this release.

Plus the fucking solos are also worthy of all the praise. What's more amazing about the solos is that they aren't dreadful unnecessary noodling. The solos are, in point of fact, extremely fast, admiringly technical and are satisfyingly dispersed throughout every track. This is also one of the few thrash metal offerings in which the listeners can audibly hear the bass. The bass can be heard prominently and it remains clear and hearable for the rest of the record. The frontman's vocal delivery might be less intense than those we find on classic thrash metal album, but they do fit the music of Tankist well.

Drum work on this release is also solid and it mixes in with the other instruments just perfectly. Though it might not be as crushing and as angry as a machine gun on crack drum work like those of other thrash contemporaries, it's snappy and pretty complex beats are fun and the drummer throws in witty fills at just the right times in breaks to spice up the music. The overall production of "Unhuman" is also really good, without sounding overdone. Man, do I love the mixing of the guitar on this album. It's pretty crisp and clear, and they had used a lighter distortion than you might expect in a band playing under the genre.

In my opinion, Tankist had furnished a worthy modern thrash metal album with "Unhuman" that even those enthusiasts of the early thrash music would enjoy. The formula in the offering was not abused, and each influence was perfectly balanced. This record deserves a sit in every thrash metal fans' collection shelf, and I recommend that you guys should keep your radar on this band in the future years to come.

Early Slayer Worship - 70%

Sweetie, November 16th, 2017

Seriously, the title says it all! Whether if that's what Tankist were going for or not, that's what I'm picking up. After a pretty solid EP, the Estonians have returned with their debut full length Unhuman. Many tracks on here are about as close as you can get to Slayer's Hell Awaits without actually being, well, Hell Awaits. This is evident immediately "Just Another Union" and "Choose Death", proving that you don't need to dig far into this to understand that. For those unfamiliar, it's drenched in sloppy, high sweeping solos that pop up all over the place, displaying almost no melody. That doesn't just go for the solo work though, because little melody is present on this in general. Vocals are all raspy shrieks, also lacking much melody, but focusing on ear-bursting assault instead.

This could all come off as a turn-off, as nobody wants exact copy-cats, but don't let it scare you away. Sure, it isn't the most original thing in the world, but at least it does what it wants to very well. Also, it does take breaks from this formula here and there, with tracks like "Suffo6ion", or "Miserytomb". The songs like these take it back down a few pegs and whip up some more melody than the majority of the album. While most of this record is pretty rough production wise, this allows these tracks to sound a little bit clearer; though not "clean production" by any means. Without parts like this, it would likely overstay its welcome.

Much to my disappointment, the drums hardly break through on Unhuman. Almost every track, they sound like they're being blocked out or behind the shadows of the rest of the music. What you can hear is brilliant, in fact "Godspear" has an incredible drum-line. But you can't absorb the entire effect because they're just not as crushing as they should have been. Perhaps due to rocky production as well, but it probably sounds incredible live. Thankfully, the rhythm sections help assist with this, and deliver some solid riffs to compensate for what we're missing in that department.

Overall, this is a pretty stellar debut and this band is certainly headed the right direction. With some production clean up and maybe a tad bit tighter song-writing, you'll have the ideal thrash record. Most of what is wrong here can be compensated by something that is done right, so no glaring stand outs. Recommended to all early thrash metal fans, especially if you're into Slayer.