• Destruction / Kreator / Sodom / Tankard - The Big Teutonic 4 (2012) - Tankard comes along with the biggest surprise - 68% (07/12/14)

    Destruction / Kreator / Sodom / Tankard	- The Big Teutonic 4 (2012)

    After the massive success of the concert series of Anthrax, Megadeth, Metallica and Slayer under “The Big Four” banner, German metal magazines started some hype around Germany’s oldest and probably most famous thrash metal bands by calling them “The Big Teutonic Four”. These bands have never really toured together under this banner but German extreme metal magazine Legacy decided to put out a short EP anyway with one tune from each Destruction, Kreator, Sodom and Tankard. To be honest, there is nothing spectacular about this release as the four tracks are only cover songs. Sodom and Destruction honour Motörhead while Kreator and Tankard worship Iron Maiden. Some of the cover tracks are not even exclusive to this release. Sodom’s version of Motörhead’s “Iron Fist” was already released back in 1987 on the “Persecution Mania” record. Kreator’s take on Iron Maiden’s “The Number of the Beast” is taken from the “Phantom Antichrist” single released earlier in 2012. Destruction’s version of Motörhead’s “The Hammer” is taken from the Japanese version of their “Spiritual Genocide” album that has just been released one month before this split release. As far as I know, only Tankard’s cover of Iron Maiden’s “The Prisoner” is exclusive to this release. As this split came along with a free magazine for a fair price, it doesn’t really matter if the material is exclusive or not but one could have chosen more than just four tracks and maybe original songs by the four bands instead of these cover rehashes.

    Let’s talk about the songs themselves. On the positive side, all four bands made the tracks sound like their own. Nobody is trying to copy Bruce Dickinson or Lemmy Kilmister on here which is a good thing because these bands wouldn’t have been able to reproduce these unique vocalists. Musically, the Motörhead covers still sound like fast and dirty rock ‘n roll and are quite close to the originals while the Iron Maiden covers sound quicker and meaner than the originals.

    Sodom’s version of Motörhead’s “Iron Fist” is the most disappointing song on the release. The track remains too close to the original and Schmier’s vocals sound even more limited than Lemmy’s and are surprisingly lackluster. He sounds as if he had just smoked a couple of cigarettes and felt extremely sick or tired while recording this song. There is no true effort or passion behind this rendition and I’m always skipping this song.

    Destruction’s version of “The Hammer” sounds a little bit more enthusiastic, both musically and vocally. Still, the song is a little bit too close to the original to really stand out and I think that the original is not the most gripping Motörhead song either. Sorry but both the original and this cover version don’t leave any deeper impression on me.

    Kreator’s version of Iron Maiden’s “The Number of the Beast” is faster and meaner than the original but I don’t appreciate this experiment for two reasons. First of all, the band cut off the iconic spoken word introduction to this heavy metal classics and its absence just feels wrong. Second, Mille Petrozza rumbling vocals sound pathetic when compared to the emotionally charged and stunningly versatile vocal performance of the original. Mille Petrozza’s vocals just sound the same through the entire song and don’t vary at all which makes the song sound quite monotonous. This lackluster vocal performance is a little bit sad as the cover version has a nice pace and a really solid instrumental work that should please to both fans of heavy and thrash metal.

    It’s a little bit surprising that Tankard has picked the challenging “The Prisoner” instead of a more punk-driven tune from “Iron Maiden” or “Killers” but this courageous idea works fairly well and was worth the risk. Their take on “The Prisoner” is by far the best song on the split and the sole reason to purchase this release. Sadly, the spoken word introduction is also missing here but it’s not a big deal as this part is not as essential as the opening of “The Number of the Beast”. Tankard’s opening riffs and the dynamical rhythm section build up an energizing pace that beats the original where I have always thought that the opening section sounded a little bit too slow. The song gets really unchained in the verses and the chorus and has a strong punk vibe and rebellious party feeling to it. The vocal performance is surprisingly great. Obviously, Gerry can’t mess with Bruce Dickinson but his singing is more diversified than usually and he clearly put a lot of passionate emotion into this rendition. His desperate, oppressed and slightly breathless vocals fit to the new version and even to the lyrical topic. Gerre’s performance is absolutely gripping. Tankard’s cover song is a big positive surprise and despite being a faithful Iron Maiden fan, I slightly prefer this vivid version over the slower original tune. The original has a great introduction and a better bass guitar tone but the cover has a more fitting pace and even more emotional vocals while the instrumental performances from both bands are absolutely stellar. I wouldn’t have thought to ever find an Iron Maiden cover better than the original but now it has happened.

    All in all, Tankard’s cover song is musically appealing and vocally gripping while the other three bands deliver average renditions in Kreator’s and Destruction’s cases to bad performances in Sodom’s case. If you are able to get your hands on this gimmicky collector’s item for a low prize, go for it, otherwise you should just download Tankard’s track on here as the rest is forgettable and had already been published elsewhere before.

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