Review By Oli Bateman
Golden Tanks – Golden Tanks E.P
The first thing you should know about this review, is the fact that I am conducting it without a press release. Normally as any budding music journalist will tell you, a press release is a short bio sent out by the band, the bands label, or a PR company in order to inform members of online, TV, Radio, or print media, about the bands history and accolades. As someone who reads a lot of music reviews (but doesn’t necessarily pay any attention to them), I tend to notice segments of dialogue that are given as a helping hand to the reviewer, in order to state a fact or certain trait that the reviewed band is associated with, this will not be the case with this review. This isn’t by any means a bad thing, when I was first given this review to write I was puzzled at the fact that there was no press release, but after various failed email attempts to gain access to a copy, I realised that I had actually reached a happy medium without one. Any normal music fan switches on the radio, witnesses a live performance, and using our modern up-to-date media platforms watches a music video on TV or Online, or even downloads their music. My point is that without a press release, I get to view the music as an uninfluenced music fan looking for something great to listen too, rather than trying to fit or place a back story or historical account upon a band that I have no audio-logical judgement about, (and yes audio-logical is a word… that I just made up).
With the little research that I did decide to dig up on these boys from Reading, I found out that they regarded themselves as a Rock n’ Roll band in terms of music style or genre. Rock and Roll can be a hard genre for any modern Rock or Metal fan to grasp a hold of these days, the connotations of playing Rock n’ Roll music tend to be that of a fat, American, cheese burger eating, jump suit wearing Elvis impersonator. But what you can consider Rock n’ Roll in 2012 is far from its counterpart of the early nineteen fifties diners and TV specials. It’s harder, one hundred times more aggressive, and tends to lean towards the Hardcore Punk sound that is everywhere in the UK right now. The big difference for me is the use of blues inspired hooks and riffs that act as punch lines to the genres ensemble. Tracks like Moved As Mountians Dreamt Of By The Sea by Ghost Of A Thousand, or The Caller Of The Town by Feed The Rhino capture the signature sound of a modern day Rock n’ Roll band. It’s a pleasure for me to know that Golden Tanks label themselves as Rock n’ Roll artists, mainly because I feel there aren’t enough bands out there pushing this particular sound, or presenting this genre particularly well. From first impressions, Golden Tanks sound like they have that signature sound ‘down to a tee’, which really excites me in terms of British Hardcore and Rock n’ Roll bands leading the genre.
From pressing play on my ipod with the volume at full blast, to putting it down to reflect on the 12 minutes and 27 seconds of my life that I had spent listening to Golden Tanks self-titled E.P, I was convinced that I had found my new favourite band. After the first play through, I could only describe my experience as switching on the radio and hearing your new favourite band for the first time; the excitement you get from hearing that signature song or sound that influences your moods and attributes, that knowing feeling of finding (at least to your knowledge) an awesome sound that rocks you to your core. Music that changes how quickly you walk, or the air guitar gestures you make, has a massive influence on me as I cruise through anyplace with my headphones in. If I’m not pulling demonic rock faces, or scaring the shizz out of old ladies as I walk by with my hardcore head-bang on, I’m not satisfied, and Golden Tanks E.P made me do just that. Starting with The Flag, the misleading intro of this first track only sets you up for a riff based buffet of pure unadulterated rock n’ roll. Hard pressed to let you rest for just a second, the vocals roar at you like a jealous Mrs Tiger Woods as she swings for you verse after verse with a metaphorical golf club. Mace does much the same, but kicks you into gear at a much quicker pace than that of the Former. The rich dynamics of this song originate from the bass line throughout the track, but more so at the end with the dirty but crisp bass led breakdown, which as I discovered, makes you want to swing your arms around like a manic gorilla after a fizzy drinks high.
Track three, Midas Touch, presents itself as an audio description of exactly how I think this band play live. The pace is quick off the mark once again, displaying the bands knowledge of good rock n roll hooks, but slows towards the middle, almost inviting audience participation. With the commanding sound that the track utilises, I can already see the crowd at the will of the whole band, being dictated to about how and when to move, and how hard to rock. It’s then the turn of a lead guitar solo to pierce the already thickened wall of noise that is giving me head-banger’s neck. The solo is welcoming refreshment to the song, as without it, I fear the track would end up stale and predictable. Though not an incredible work of genius, it undoubtedly ties the whole track completely together, like a well wrapped Christmas present, covered in bows and full of multi-coloured tracing paper. As if that wasn’t enough, the final track Dead Strings showcases the entire bands musical skills; the overall feel displayed by this track is one of complete togetherness, the band are so tight and precise with every change and progression, that’s it’s hard to find anything wrong with this track at all. Although it’s the last track of the self-titled E.P, I can’t but help feel that it’s the cornerstone of the whole piece. It is by far not my favourite track on this record, but it conveys such a twist of ups and downs, coupled together with awesome punchy hooks, along with solid drumming and lung destroying vocals, that you cannot ignore it. All four tracks make me want to break out into a fury of solo moshing and fist pumping, that I’m sure I’d be arrested for in any public place.
Having replayed this E.P many times in my head, there are two points about it that stand out significantly from all the rest. This first struck me after only listening through the record once, but is confirmed every time I listen from start to finish. It is a very subtle element that has an artistic nature to it, one that might have been a conscious decision by the band, or just a coincidence of track order. The E.P performs like a play in the theatre, and moves through the various acts and intervals containing components resembling that of a concept album. To me there is no substantial story behind the lyrics or movements from song to song; it’s the structure and layout of the tracks that give the record a theatrical form. The first act is through songs one and two; the placement of these two songs together has grouped the Rock n’ Roll sounding songs in a harmonious partnership, that makes you wonder if you’ve accidentally gone back to the start of the first song. They are very related in terms of genre, pace, and riff repetition, that upon first glance makes them hard to differentiate. Tracks three and four take the second act of the performance, displaying the Hardcore section of the E.P. Differing in pace and riffs, the songs are both cemented in the more Hardcore of the genre, painting a perfect ending to the record. The second element of this E.P that really impresses me the most, are the lead vocals over the whole record. It’s rare to find lead voices that are perfect in pitch and tone when talking about a vocalist in a Rock n’ Roll band, but here among Golden Tanks you have an excellent mix. The commanding shouts and screams stab effortlessly through the thick underbelly of the Hardcore rumblings emitted by this band, creating a signature voice to recognise and relate too.
Golden Tanks self-titled E.P is a mix of excellent musicianship and downright dirty Rock n’ Roll, grab this release while you can because they have plans to record a new E.P in October 2012, which I hope will surpass this one and elevate their already excellent start in the Hardcore world.
The Boys are currently on a European tour, but you can catch them back in the UK in September!