The Tanks – Keep Breaking Down

The Tanks - Keep Breaking Down

The Tanks - Keep Breaking Down

The Tanks rumble through with loud efficiency. Their new album, Keep Breaking Down, has two speeds: low gear metal grooves and high gear punk. But soon the tread loses traction.

Keep Breaking Down has some good tracks, but often the volume and momentum just isn’t enough.

This ragtag 3 piece build their sound on a bass guitar that both thunders and crackles. Its lumbering buzz sways between grinding sludge and speedy punk rock. No frills drums go along for the ride, crashing and thudding all the way. The Tanks’ stripped down approach won’t tax the brain, so don’t expect any subtlety.

The simple songs manage to find a few chance hooks, but the vocals don’t take advantage. This is the album’s other weakness. The singing is the same all the way through, forever spouting off like a series of proclamations shouted during a rally. Hardcore music is no stranger to monotonous vocals, but this isn’t hardcore and it gets old here.

Keep Breaking Down opens with “Command Divide”. The song’s simple riff, a start-stop cadence, offers a relaxed jam before sneaking in some brief brutality 3 minutes in, followed by a breakdown. It’s a decent track, if not a little bland. “Action Delay” is better. A sludgy intro breaks into a thrashing riff and keeps changing.

The best tracks come later. “Pick A Fold” starts like a call to arms, then cracks into an industrial strength machine riff . But the song also features some of the most nimble bass playing on the album. The blunt and vitriolic combination of rhythms and tempo changes makes this track the highlight of Keep Breaking Down. The six minute long closing track, “Kirby Loves Dudes”, is the album’s epic . It is a solid effort, a standout because it sounds like The Tanks’ best impression of early Clutch.

Surely, The Tanks rock live. Keep Breaking Down is no substitute. The audio mix can sound hallow but it usually does the job. Those bass strings sound like the steel cables on the Brooklyn Bridge.

The album offers some of the simple pleasures of loud, stomping riffs. But its shelf life is questionable. Fans of early Clutch and Helmet can enjoy.