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Tank: Honour and Blood (1984)

Tank Honour & Blood

–TANK: Honour and Blood (1984)

Tank, it suddenly dawned on me, is certainly an apt name for this band; they bulldoze along in an unswerving line with the undeniable power of a
Sherman. But they’re also about as inventive and attractive as one and, judging by the mild ripples of polite applause they strained to squeeze from the largely impartial crowd, I wasn’t the only one who wouldn’t rather have been elsewhere.

It’s never a pleasant task slamming a band, but I make no excuse here. Tank are one of the worst HM bands I’ve seen and surely the genre warrants more than that.”
(Mark Putterford, Sounds, 02/07/83)

Ouch! Woah Mark, easy there on the Tank boys. Not that I was at that show or anything, but any tank, be it Sherman, Panzer or one of the first lumbering elephants from the Battle of Cambrai, kicks serious infantry and barbed-wire entanglement buttocks. Therefore, I believe this musical British Tank must deserve more praise than that. But you did write that highly
informative and insightful bio of Philo, so I’ll forgive you for this one. Then again, in that same book you referred to Manowar as “that American Joke
Band,” so maybe I take that back. Joey De’Maio means serious business, and his band is definitely no joke. And hey Mark, don’t be trying to take Joey’s picture neither. Seriously!

Now, I don’t claim to be an expert on Tank or on the NWOBHM in general, but my interest in this era of metal has increased, gradually but steadily, over the course of the past 10 years. So, every once in awhile
I’ve been picking up some NWOBHM compilations or re-releases and trying to read up about the movement when I get a chance. There are several very useful references on the internet, especially The NWOBHM Encyclopedia and The NWOBHM Radio show. I got most of my background information from these sources, as well as from the liner notes of High Vaultage’s re-release of the 1984 Roadrunner version of Honour and Blood. This was just a spontaneous purchase for me, but I got it because: 1. I knew Tank was from the NWOBHM, and 2. I remembered Lars Ulrich mentioning the band’s name in the liner notes to The NWOBHM ’79 Revisited CD. You can say what you want about Metallica, but their gracious reverence to their influences through their cover tunes, press statements and whatnot has introduced their fans to many awesome older bands.

One factoid I didn’t know until I read it today was that Algy Ward was a prominent member of The Damned from November, 1978 to February, 1980. The leader of a steamroller of a metal band called Tank was in a popular PUNK band? I’ll be damned (sorry). Perhaps it shouldn’t be so much of a shock, however, because in many ways the NWOBHM as a whole can be
viewed as a sort of bridge between late ’70s punk scene and the traditional metal that came into establishment in the early ’80s. After all, bands like
Motorhead and Girlschool (a female version of Motorhead, for the most part) were clearly crossover acts, and bands like Maiden, Angelwitch and Raven were combining metal’s musicianship, power and melody with
punk’s speed and snarly attitude. So Tank fit right in with that early ’80s British scene, apparently.

As a new initiate to Tank’s music, I was expecting the straight-ahead, ballsy and no-frills metal typical of the era, and for the most part you get that here. But Honour and Blood is a story of two very different LP sides, and I imagine
that it would have been easier for the fan to have all the best songs on one side, so as not to have to keep flipping the record over. Side One, for the most part, is exactly what I imagined a Tank to sound like. It is a relentless assault of aggressive buzzsaw riffing, power chords from hell and searing leads that are both catchy and flowing.

Opener “The War Drags On” is perhaps the album’s centerpoint, oddly enough. It begins with an apocalyptic-sound keyboard drone, which gives way to a faintly chugging guitar riff. Then–BAM, it’s an explosion of devastatingly crunchy, pummeling heavy metal. The catchy chorus and neo-classical guitar harmonies bring to mind today’s crop of Euro power
metal, but Ward’s sandpaper-on-fire, or something like that, vocals are effective. Lyrically, this is an outcry against militant Islam, an eerie preview of the terrorism and Jihad of the 21st Century. The song is at once brutal and majestic, and an absolute winner to start off the album. Honour… loses no momentum heading into “When Hell Freezes Over.” This mid-tempo stomper features tasty guitar harmonies over power chords in the intro, followed by a galloping verse riff. The song is catchy and anthemic, and it reminds me of Accept and AC/DC at their best. The tune also includes a brief acoustic
interlude and soulful leads that recall Diamond Head’s Brian Tatler.

Side One closes with the killer title track, which happens to be another anti-war ditty. This time the narrator is a British soldier lamenting friendly
fire and the tendency of the government to throw its youth into the machinery of war. “Are those ours overhead/ Why can’t they shoot the enemy instead/ We took the King’s shilling for killing the hun/ over there,
they must be blind,” and “Seeing those blue skies reminds me of home/ they seem to forget we’re made of flesh, blood and bone/ But we didn’t come here to die on our own/ to be remembered in a tower of stone.” The remarkable depth of the lyrics is matched by equally phenomenal music. It starts with a memorable guitar melody over a straight-forward palm-muted riff. A speedy song, full of razor-sharp rhythm guitarwork, it showcases another outstanding chorus. The blitzkrieg-fast and fluid shred solos also really help
this track shine as one that make Honour worth the price of its admission.

Side Two, conversely, is more of a mixed bag. Track four is a crunchy and heavy cover of “Chain of Fools” (remember Little Caesar’s later sleazy glam version on MTV?). The song is decent, but nothing essential or out of the ordinary. It is followed by “W.M.L.A.”, a broken-love song that is strangely anchored by a decent Van Halen riff. This slow pseudo-ballad features Ward’s cleanest and most dynamic vocal performance on the album, and the chordal textures used on the chorus are haunting. This is not one of Honour…’s best cuts, but it is better than “Too Tired to Wait for Love,” which boasts a tediously cheesy chorus and lyrics. As always though, the fine lead
guitarwork does breathe some life into the bloated song. “Kill,” the last cut on the original album, is a another standard mid-tempo cruncher. The vocal
melodies and overall excitement level are much better than its predecessor, and once again, the amazing guitar playing saves “Kill” from being lumped in the average category.Honour… concludes with a bonus track on the High
Vaultage CD release, “The Man that Never Was.” This one’s got a solid, piledriving guitar riff over a slow beat, but the standard-sounding chorus renders this song forgettable as well. So, Honour and Blood is an album I recommend for NWOBHM devotees, and I have to recommend it also for at least four of its eight cuts. It hasn’t made me crazy about the band, but I would definitely be interested in hearing This Means War, which should be a real treat indeed.

–Tracklisting: 1.) The War Drags Ever On 2.) When All Hell Freezes Over 3.) Honour and Blood 4.) Chain of Fools 5.) W.M.L.A. 6.) Too Tired to Wait for Love 7. Kill 8.) The Man that Never Was

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~ by jonnyboyrocker on September 28, 2009.

One Response to “Tank: Honour and Blood (1984)”

  1. MASTERPIECE!

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