Many fans say that Heavy Metal is a way of life, something that will always be a part of you. For Tankard this is obviously true, because how else would it be possible for the band to still go as strong as it does after such a long time? It cannot be the money, because sales-wise Tankard is not exactly big enough to live from music alone. The only sensible explanation is that Tankard loves Thrash Metal for what it is: A form of art that gives you that certain beloved kick by punching you right in the guts! People who are not into this kind of music will likely wonder how people can be attracted to a form of music that evokes this kind of comparison, but let’s face it: you either get it, or you do not. So time to elaborate this particular punch, i.e. this particular album a bit more.
First, it is important to mention that One Foot In The Grave is not your typical Tankard album. It is much too serious for this. So no, no party album this time. There are still some party songs, of course, but the serious songs are much more numerous. This is not to say that Tankard never wrote any serious song (‘Minds On The Moon‘ anyone?). In fact, they wrote a couple of them over the years, but they are not exactly typical for the band.
Take the first song ‘Pay To Pray’, for instance. The entire song is an attack against a form of religion where faith becomes a form of oppression that brainwashes and exploits the average believer. It would be a mistake to interpret the song as a general stab against Christianity – the band is on good terms with Running Wild’s first bassist “Preacher” who is both an ordained Protestant pastor and also still a Heavy Metal fan, but it is definitely a stab against what Christianity can be (ab-)used for. The song is about anger and frustration expressed by fast-paced drums, Gerre’s vocals, harsh guitars. In addition, the song pretty much sets the mood for the rest of the album. One could probably call it “righteous anger”, the anger of somebody who cares a bit too much for his own good, but it is also the kind of anger that can be used for good. It is the kind of anger that can motivate people to actually do something to improve the state of the world. It will likely inspire some quite brutal moshpits as well.
The next song ‘Arena of True Lies’ is not much different. Frustration and anger again, this time aimed at the use of social media, the fakeness (actual fake news included) that plagues it, and the loss of actual human interaction. It is also a fast paced Thrash song, that still feels sort of strange for Tankard. Although, this can be said about every Tankard song, particularly when you get several of them in a row.
This is what makes the album so different. It is not a party “let’s drink some beer” album with maybe one or two serious songs thrown in for good measure. It is a serious album with a few party songs thrown in to lighten up the mood. Particularly ‘Syrian Nightmares’ shines in this respect. However, the song is as serious as it can get, and very much in the vein of the aforementioned classic ‘Minds On The Moon’. The only difference is that ‘Syrian Nightmares’ is more Thrash while ‘Minds On The Moon’ feels more like a punk rock song.
So no, ‘One Foot In The Grave’ is not a party album. It sure has its party moments, but those are rare. Nevertheless, so what? Life is not just about beer and parties, sometimes it is about this particular kind of anger that does not rage blindly, but rather tries to instil you with the wish for a change. It is positive and constructive anger, anger that speaks from the heart, mature anger that screams for a change for the better. Chances are the next Tankard album will be on the silly side again, but for once let us enjoy Tankard’s mature side on One Foot In The Grave. Nine devils!
1. Pay To Pray
2. Arena Of The True Lies
3. Don't Bullshit Us!
4. One Foot In The Grave
5. Syrian Nightmare
6. Northern Crown (Lament Of The Undead King)
7. Lock 'em Up
8. The Evil That Men Display
9. Secret Order 1516
10. Sole Grinder
Playing Time: 48:46
Andi Gutjahr: guitars
Frank Thorwarth: bass
Olaf Zissel: drums