TANKARD: R.I.B.: CD

Tankard is a thrash metal band from Frankfurt Germany, founded in 1982.  Along with the bands Kreator, Destruction and Sodom, Tankard is often considered one of the “The Big Teutonic Four” of Teutonic thrash metal. They released their first record in 1986 and continue to write and record in the same vein: fast metal songs in honour of alcohol. Now they’ve released their sixteenth album and they show no sign of slowing down.

The new album continues with songs about drinking, and general goofiness…what more did you expect from them? R.I.B. stands for Rest In Beer, and of course a German band should be singing about beer. Song after song of thrash played with skill and aggression, just they way it should, no overlong wank fests, hear that Metallica, just good old party time and anger mixed together. The riffs are glorious, the solos are tight, the bass is heavy the drums pummel and the gruff vocals are perfectly suited for the devastation here. The cool thing is that there are a lot of hooks on this album as well as some grooves that you wouldn’t think could be so effectively mixed into the songs. Of course you can bang your head, stage dive, or mosh to this, but the grooves are a nice treat. I really liked “No One Hit Wonder,” “War Cry,” R.I.B. (Rest In Beer),” “Enemy Of Order,” and “Clockwise To Deadline.” The production is tight and it lets the band truly shine on this release.

After all these years Tankard shows no sign of giving up or slowing down and being a sad shadow of themselves. You know what you are getting and with so many bands trying new things out on their fans, it’s great to hear a band doing what they do and doing it well.

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DRONE: Self-titled: CD

This thrash metal band from Celle, Germany formed in 2004. The band released their debut Head-on Collision in the year 2007, and now have released their fourth album in ten years.

Starting off with an acoustic guitar interlude then turns into a chugging riff that gives opening track, “Guilt” a powerful beginning to the album. Heavy and unexpected, Drone have now got your attention, that is for sure.  “The Reason” which has manic double bass drums, keeps the heavy destruction moving along. “Buried In Blue” has killer riffs and power just exploding from the band. The vocals are raspy with the obligatory growls and shouting on the album, and there is a lot melody to the choruses that really make you get into this album. The overall production of the record is clear, and tight, which just adds to the heaviness of the music laid down.

A very heavy album that will make fans take notice and should get new fans to check them out. The power and intensity are at an all time high, jump in and let the band grab you and fill your ears with their energy.

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THRESHOLD: For The Journey: CD

Threshold began in London, England’s suburbs back in 1989, and this is the sextet’s third studio release for Nuclear Blast Records, following Dead Reckoning (2007), and March Of Progress (2012). The latter album saw the return of Damian Wilson, the band’s vocalist from 1992-1993, and 1996-1998, after the departure (and subsequent tragic demise) of Andrew ‘Mac’ McDermott.

“Watchtower on the Moon” is upbeat, with a strong, groovy riff that carries the track, stellar vocals, catchy hooks, and power. “Turned to Dust” is a heavy track, with riffs that punch through with, and a great chorus. “Autumn Red” is a smooth track with heavy riffs, and great lyrics. “Siren Sky” is one of the more heavy metal tracks on the album with tons of riffage surging forth. “The Box,” is the centerpiece of the album with its twelve minutes of textures and moods. “The Mystery Show” has one of the smoothest chorus lines backed by keyboards, and a smoldering riff. Other notable tracks are “Unforgiven,” and “Autumn Red.”

This is a great album of intelligent, well-written progressive music that keeps you riveted from start to finish. Try not to like this one, you just can’t help replaying it.

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WHILE HEAVEN WEPT: Suspended At Aphelion: CD

While Heaven Wept has existed in various forms since 1989 (though the actual moniker wasn’t settled upon until 1991), and co-founding guitarist / composer Tom Phillips has been the one constant for the past 25 years. Despite countless line-up changes in the early years, the core of the band, featuring bassist Jim Hunter, guitarist Scott Loose, and his sister Michelle on keyboards essentially came together in 1998 and has remained intact ever since, though her husband and Brave band mate Trevor came on board in 2004 after a series of drummers came and went.

Starting out playing doom metal, they have expanded into progressive, and symphonic metal on this far-reaching release. With a prologue “Introspectus,” and epilogue “Retrospectus,” both instrumentals at each end of the disc, they really show off the technical skills that are present in this band. “Icarus And I,” features a huge chorus, a catchy melody, and includes harsh, growled vocals. “Heartburst” is slow and soulful, and features a fantastic guitar solo from founder Tom Phillips. “Indifference Turned Paralysis,” is another instrumental, but it’s faster and brings a progressive feel to the track. “The Memory of Bleeding” and “Souls in Permafrost,” are powerful songs with the latter featuring an amazing chorus. “Reminiscence of Strangers,” has blinding guitar work from Phillips and guest guitarist Victor Arduini. You need to listen to the album as a whole, because it is a dynamic and richly textured experience.

Grab the headphones, turn the lights down, and drink in the sweet sounds that are on display here. Not everyone can pull off such a feat, but this is one experience that is worth having over and over again.

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MUSTASCH: Sounds Like Hell, Looks Like Heaven: CD

This Swedish hard rock band has been around since 1998 and this album is a winner from start to finish with all of the excellent songs on it, the only one that didn’t do it for me was “Northern Link”, that’s because it was a keyboard only song with Swedish traffic reports, and the rest of the album is pure gold.

It kicks off with “Speed Metal”, but it isn’t a speed metal song, speedy and metal though and a damn fine way to get you into the groove of the album. The song has some excellent guitar work, the drumming is kick ass, the bass just charges across the song, the vocals go from being gruff to some smoother singing with great background vocals, and add in the cowbell, awesome. The rest of the album is just as good, great pummeling production to give this a punch you in the mouth feel, great guitar leads, great heavy bass, awesome drums and the vocals by Ralf Gyllenhammer go from gruff, like the scum rock bands, to more subdued and it all added up to an album that just rocks.

There are aspects of 1980s hard rock on here as well as more modern techniques, like the song “Morning Star” could have come out in 1983 and would have been huge, as it is, I loved it! This is a great album other than the last track; you can’t get better than this one.

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