As a Metal reviewer, your goal is to meld quantity with quality; listen to and critique as many bands as you can, as well as you can. TANK86’s debut full-length, “Rise,” is making this exceedingly difficult. Since its initial play-through, I admit that I have unfairly neglected the other dust-collecting albums up for assessment, and for this, I apologize, but when an album is this good, this heavy, there is really no option. The Gods of Metal beckon, and you must heed their call.
A four-piece from the Netherlands, TANK86 play an abnormally captivating genre hybrid of Instrumental Progressive Metal that thrives on its ability to construct huge riffs, grand arrangements, and a debilitating, awesome sound that demands its listeners to soak up every bone-jarring and hair-raising moment. TANK86 have treated “Rise” with great care, and their efforts are indelibly felt.
The absence of vocals is truly no detriment to the album’s enormous impact; the music is the lone focal point, and TANK86 deliver with an open-ranged sound that blends the tricks and trades of several genres. Apparently coined as Stoner Metal, the album’s searing groove links similarities to the works of bands like MASTODON and HIGH ON FIRE, and like the aforementioned groups, TANK86 employ progressive devices that do a stalwart job of maintaining interest throughout. While some bands occasionally get carried away with their intellectual responsibility to create mesmerizing epics, TANK86 do so without ever diminishing the force of song or its aim of finishing the fight in dramatic fashion.
While the genre tag Stoner is apt for the band’s groovy and jam-based structures, “Rise” offers much more than a handful of mind-melting Southern sliding riffs and bluesy melodies. The album’s incredible intro, “Barrosphere,” hits like an atomic bomb as guitars, bass, and drums level with a strict cohesion that reminds one of TOOL’s overwhelming sound of immovable things opting to collide. In a traditional Heavy/Doom Metal stance, the ominous and distinctly powerful “Black Lake” trudges and crushes with the mythical weight of Lovecraftian monster and Tolkien fen-beast, and “Apparat,” the album’s longest and subsequently most impressively conceived track, is an example of when truly heavy Progressive Metal steers away from the intricacies of Modern show-off technicality and instead relishes in the desire to birth a majestic and enduring tale. Some of the musical decisions on “Rise” are simply outstanding.
From its expertly crafted tempo changes and its dynamic production job, to its wealth of soulfully winding and expressive guitar solos and devastating crush of bass and drum, TANK86 perform “Rise” with all the confidence of a band who have not only done their homework, but have studied their art for ages. TANK86 have created the soundtrack to an adventure, and “Rise,” one of the best debuts of 2011, is a journey into a realm that is not experienced often enough.
Me(n)tal Notes: TANK86 run Rising Magma Records. "Rise" features special guests Peter van Elderen (PETER PAN SPEEDROCK) and Tommi Holappa (DOZER).
(Online June 20, 2011)