Regardless of where one stands in terms of the musical qualities of TANKARD’s music, one has to give the band kudos for sheer persistence. Perennial also-rans of German Thrash, TANKARD have now amazingly released their fifteenth album and have been maintaining the tradition of releasing a new album every two years since 1998. That takes some beating, gents! After the unforgivably mediocre “Vol(l)ume 14” I had moderate expectations for this album, but I’d be damned if “A Girl Called Cerveza” isn’t the best latter-day TANKARD album since 2004’s “Beast Of Bourbon”, or even 1998’s “Disco Destroyer”. In many ways this album represents a great mix of the aforementioned albums, effortlessly mixing the in-your-face guitars of the former with the more playful and diverse moments of the latter.
One could almost argue that the music here is (for the most part) as good as the cover art is downright godawful, i.e. very. With its catchy riffs, speedy tempo, and uplifting vibe, “Running On Fumes” immediately impresses as an opener, striking just the right balance between all-out Thrash and melodic Speed Metal (think something along the lines of RAGE or PARADOX). The title track is next in line, and another instant highlight, coming across like a nice mix of modern DEATH ANGEL and even a bit of ancient “Killers” era MAIDEN. Completing the trifecta of stellar tracks, “Witchhunt 2.0” is more in line with straightforward Thrash, quite fast and with a hefty load of gang-shouts to boot.
It is at this point, though, that the album hits a bit of a dip, as “Masters Of Farces” and “The Metal Lady Boy” count as little more than filler. Even the addition of Doro Pesch on the latter cannot save it from mediocrity. The repetitiveness of the former and the insipid Hard Rock trudging of the latter simply break the otherwise smooth flow of affairs. Fortunately, the forceful “Not One Day Dead (But One Day Mad)” is up next, delivering four minutes of solid Thrash. The increased aggression (especially during the chorus riffs) was a great way to blast away the boredom of the two preceding numbers. Musically “Son Of A Fridge” might be a tad middling, but the lyrics have a nice twist to them – “That’s why I’m a son of a fridge, father’s a freak and my mother a bitch!” – quite sneaky, don’t you think? Definitely a fun song, which is more than I can say of “Fandom At Random” and “Metal Magnolia”, two tracks that annoy more than they enthral. It seems that for every two or three great songs these guys have to level things with a handful of bland ones... The album does recover steam right at the end,, however, as “Rapid Fire (A Tyrant's Elegy)” is easily another highlight. Fast, catchy, and with a nicely fleshed-out main riff, this one links up seamlessly with the impressive string of opening numbers on here.
I don’t know where exactly “A Girl Called Cerveza” fits into the overall TANKARD discography in terms of (lasting) quality, but it is in the very least their best effort since “Beast Of Bourbon”, and easily blows “Thirst” and “Vol(l)ume 14” out of the pond (or punch bowl, in this case).
(Online July 11, 2012)