War Machine

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British punk-metal band Tank's first four albums (Filth Hounds of Hades, Power of the Hunter, This Means War, and Honour & Blood) were solid, underrated slabs of raw power. The band's lineup shifted radically between albums two and three, but the cornerstone was always founding bassist/vocalist Algy Ward. In 2008, he left the band, and it took two people to fill his shoes: vocalist Doogie White and bassist Chris Dale. The drummer on this disc, Dave Cavill, is also a 2008 recruit. That leaves only two members with veteran status: guitarists Mick Tucker (who joined the band on This Means War) and Cliff Evans (who came on board circa Honour & Blood). The album this crew has made is decent, but not great, and certainly not the equal of Tank's early work. The first four songs ("Judgement Day," "Feast of the Devil," "Phoenix Rising," and the title track) are all thrashing, hard rock/metal workouts that might remind some listeners of recent Motörhead in its embrace of simple rock verities: come out swinging, hit 'em hard, and know when to stop. It's only in the album's second half, with the ballad "After All" that things start to go wrong. The track's not bad -- for Foreigner. But it's not a Tank song; Tank shouldn't be recording power ballads with cheesy string-patch keyboards in the back. Fortunately, it's the only real misstep. The last three tracks -- "The Last Laugh," "World Without Pity," and "My Insanity" -- return to their crushing metal sound. Does the world need a Tank album in 2010? No, but this might make fans reconsider their love of the band's classic albums.

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