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German Thrash: The Teutonic Big 4: Tankard, Sodom, Destruction, Kreator












By: Rich Catino


As part of my Metal Hall Legacy article series, part one and two covered important German Traditional and Power Metal bands who have yet to be inducted: Helloween, Grave Digger, Running Wild, Warlock, Rage, and Sinner. Now for part three on to the Thrash titans Tankard, Sodom, Destruction, and Kreator. All also who have yet to be inducted, and rightfully so should sooner than later.




TANKARD


Tankard

Now the argument can be made Tankard is questionable due to lack of popularity, mostly overseas, and a cult following here in North America. They also pigeonholed themselves into a corner writing many songs about beer and alcohol. But, they did release their first album “Zombie Attack” in 1986, recently having a 40th anniversary celebrating with former record label Noise reissuing the first seven albums with other extras including a DVD.

Given their party tongue and cheek lyrics amongst the other three bands, Tankard did make their mark and have their own playful charm. Album covers are fun too. With album titles like “The Morning After”, “Stone Cold Sober”, “Beast of Bourbon”, and “Beauty and the Beer” you know what’s in store. But, lyrically they do write about other topics like death, politics, and violence. Usual fare for thrash. Like their peers, first few albums are rough around the edges in production, but with some crossover D.R.I., Nuclear Assault (also in longstanding original singer Andreas Geremia’s voice), Hirax appeal.

Albums I’d recommend: “Chemical Invasion”, ‘The Meaning of Life”, “Disco Destroyer”, “Beast of Bourbon”, and “The Beauty and the Beer”.

‘Die With A Beer In Your Hand’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8oxrpjC_sBg



SODOM

Sodom

I vividly remember seeing the vinyl for “Obsessed By Cruelty” in the record store and saying to myself “that album cover is awesome, I have to pick this up”. Note: Heavy Metal records (yes, vinyl, LPs) and images of horror, Hell, dungeons and dragons, fantasy/Scifi, to pretty ladies, were an instant sell during the 80s. Even if you didn’t see the band (yet) on MTV. This would have been in 1986 when “Obsessed” was released on Metal Blade here in America. Another version was also out in Germany, same year, with a different mix. Both versions are awful, primitive, they are barely songs, so ruff and chaotic its like the first two Bathory albums, or Venom’s “Welcome to Hell” but not as song focused, the beginnings of what would become Black Metal. And the E.P. “In The Sign Of Evil” that pre dates in1984 is as savage. But, everyone has to start somewhere.

Singer/bassist Tom Angelripper would quickly get the Sodom three piece together for the next two albums, “Persecution Mania” in 1987 (the first album artwork to include the gas masked mascot), and the classic polished thrash masterpiece “Agent Orange” in 1989. Full album:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m9M31l0pkC4 .

Sodom are still active today making new music and touring, adding a second guitarist (Frank Blackfire also returning), have had several lineup changes over the decades (Tom the only constant), released sixteen full length albums to date with varying degrees of songwriting, production, and variety. But when Sodom gets it right there are firing on all the right cylinders.

Other recommended albums: “Tapping The Vein” (1992), “M-16” (2001), “Sodom” (2006), “In War and Pieces” (2010), and “Genesis XIX” (2020).

DESTRUCTION

Destruction

Like Sodom, Destruction too released an E.P. first in1984, “Sentence of Death”, also poorly recorded with early black metal qualities like the savage song deliveries, evil voice and satanic lyrics. Still, it includes the classics ‘Total Desaster’, and ‘Mad Butcher’ which would get a rerecording in 1987. Lead by original member Schmier on vocals/bass, with guitarist Mike Sifringer (up until 2019), within a year, leaving the black metal elements behind, “Infernal Overkill” in 1985, and 86’s “Eternal Devastation” birthed songs still in the setlist today: ‘Invincible Force’, ‘Tormentor’, ‘Bestial Invasion’, ‘Antichrist’, ‘Curse The Gods’, and “Life Without Sense’. “Release From Agony” in 1987 added another guitarist expanding on the use of riffs and guitar parts.

Fast forward ten plus years, Schmier out of the band for two albums, two E.P.s, and lineup changes, Destruction reformed and returned with the butcher in 2000 for “All Hell Breaks Loose”. No sooner than a year later right back on track “The Antichrist” included thrash anthem “Thrash Till Death”. Since then, and eight more albums, its been business as usual touring around the world, and playing all the big European festivals.

Destruction have fifteen studio albums to date, the most recent in 2022 “Diabolical”. They also released a live streamed concert taped during the pandemic in 2021 called “Live Attack”. ‘Mad Butcher’ live: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JNGIlrlalh0

Other albums recommended: “Inventor of Evil” (2005), “Day of Reckoning” (2011).

KREATOR

Kreator

The biggest name amongst the four, the Metallica, the only band of the four who always had a two guitar attack. To date, singer/guitarist Miland Mille Petroza the only original member left, with drummer Jurgen Reil back on drums since 1996. The debut “Endless Pain” is not much different from the first release from Sodom or Destruction, having the rough brutal qualities of early black metal, but a more thrash delivery to the riffs, and slightly better production. Mille’s voice also with that wicked tone associated with black/thrash metal. ‘Flag of Fate’ became a concert regular, with ‘Tormentor’ and ‘Total Death’ returning often.

“Pleasure To Kill” in 1986, “Terrible Certainty” focused the thrash compositions with fast and furious delivery. Both title tracks, ‘Riot of Violence’, ‘Under the Guillotine’, ‘As The World Burns’, and ‘Toxic Trace’ unrelenting, with baby steps to working in riff and tempo changes. “Extreme Aggression” in 1989 wasn’t much change. But “Coma of Souls” is where incorporating dynamics and use of melody, twin leads (‘Terror Zone’) improved songwriting heard on album opener ‘When The Sun Burns Red’. Kreator even got some decent airplay on MTV’s Headbangers Ball with ‘People Of The Lie’ which almost never leaves the setlist.

Like many metal bands in the 90s, Kreator also experimented straying from their thrash roots for four albums from 1992-1999. “Endorama” with goth and Megadeth’s “Cryptic Writings”/ “Risk” influences. They got with it though by 2001 evident by the title of the album “Violent Revolution”. Taking a couple years in between recording, touring, Kreator have released five more albums since, “Phantom Antichrist” the more melodic, with the latest “Hate Uber Alles” in 2022.

Live at Bloodstock festival 2017:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S_xHv40Z0w4

These bands have been around since the 80s, and in the recent ten years talks of a Teutonic Thrash Big Four tour. Is it too much to ask to get it together already.

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