The big four of thrash! In america that slogan came down to Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth and Anthrax and a big succesful tour to promote this. For me they are four bands that were there at the beginning of thrash/speed and so it is what it is. After this came to fruition folks in the underground music world started talking about the big four of German thrash. Of course names like Sodom, Kreator and Destruction fell from the lips of most easily, but what was the fourth band? When I was asked for mine, I said Frankfurt’s Tankard.

For me, pound for pound Tankard is the most consistent kick ass band of the bunch. They’ve had a slew of damn good records over the years and decades since their formation back in the earlier eighties. In a time when many “classic bands” are receiving the works with vinyl and CD box sets of their catalogue, Tankard to me is one of the deserving ones. That said, this is an odd set as it doesn’t cover their entire career to date, just the (first label) Noise Records years. This business partnership ran from 1986 to 1995, and with the vinyl box set For a Thousand Beers it’s all here, adding in a ton of pics and tales in a forty page hardback book, a few DVDs of pro shot gigs (they were a great live band so enjoy these accordingly), and an unreleased show as well. The entire project comes in a fitting beer box for the bands alcoholic metal that’s been their slogan even before album one. As mentioned earlier this band has rolled out damn good records repeatedly so what is here is just fantastic. the various album vinyls are splattered and swirled and half splattered and half swirled et cetera, and look great. The CD set is a clamshell seven CD/DVD set with the same amount of music minus the book.

And so what do these Tankard albums sound like all these years later? 1986’s Zombie Attack was their introduction to the world on album and is just one intense run through, a hybrid of speed metal with hints of punk rock paced tunes. Chains, Empty Tankard and the catchy as fuck title track all still sound as ferocious as on my first listen thirty five years ago. This is/was an instant classic record to me. 1987’s follow up Chemical Invasion ups the speed a bit while sticking to a formula the band would make a career out of; Simple riffs and arrangements with aggressive everything else driving the force! A quick third record surfaced in 1988 and it got even faster. The Morning After‘s title track is an all time favourite of mine as is the ripping opener Commandments. The record shows the guitarists do a bit more on lead work and even the arrangements see a bit more creativity that works. The band actually didn’t keep the streak of an album a year and it wasn’t until 1990 that we got The Meaning of Life.

This was pretty much the same ole Tankard, fast and wild, with the little addition of some slower section moments to mix it all up. The production on this record for me was a bit of a letdown but musically it was hard to go wrong with tunes like Open All Night and Mechanical Man. The oddly named Stone Cold Sober record surfaced in 1992. The band threw in some more wild arrangements in spots and kept the Tankard plane flying high. The cover of J Geils band’s Centerfold is one for the ears, showing the bands sense of humour in full view.

In 1994 Two Faced saw the band get back to basics scaling things back a bit – The always good “set them up and knock them down” approach. Betrayed is one of my favourite cuts from this one. The band finished up their Noise Records run with the The Tankard album in 1995. The energy is high and the band sounds very professional and still spot on a decade later from their debut in ‘86. The vocals may be a bit ‘cleaner’ here but the band is very focused and just keeps on spitting out the aggression.

Writing this review it really is just easy to say all of these records are good. A few super classics (with, for me, Zombie Attack and The Morning After being toppest of top shelf releases) and nothing not worth a listen in the least. Tankard is A cool band that still goes on with ten albums AFTER this box set ends and with a new album set for late 2022. Get the set and go to town on an all day romp with the Tankard boys. they’ve delivered again and again!

For A Thousand Beers releases on February 25th.