REVIEW: TANK – “Valley Of Tears”
By now everyone knows that in 2007 Tank was divided in two parts, with Algy Ward going one way and Mick Tucker and Cliff Evans joining forces to create their own band. This was especially hurtful for me, being a long-time fan of the original band and of NWOBHM in general, and I thought it would never work. Although I was wrong to think that this new Tank was going to be a failure, it became clear that the power and proficiency so characteristic of the original band was a result of Ward, Tucker and Evans’ collaboration, because both albums released in the new lineup, ‘War Machine’ and ‘War Nation’ were only average, at best. Perhaps afraid of forever being compared to its mother-band, Tucker and Evans recruited ZP Heart of Dragonforce fame to be their new voice and give a modern approach to their sound, thus releasing the third full-length by the band, ‘Valley of Tears’.
Let me just start by saying that the album was delivered to me with the mid-portion of the songs having their title switched. It took me a couple of listens to realize that, and although this did not ruined the experience, it did showed a level of amateurism by the label company and should never happen. The first two songs of the album, “War Dance” and “Valley of Tears”, are two mid-tempo tunes with good execution by the guitar duo, illustrating that despite giving a more modern sound to their new moniker, Tucker and Evans continue to have a classic soul and an 80’s influence over their melodies. The drumming and bass lines sound right, and ZP’s voice is clean, showcasing good production. The real downside to both songs (and the whole experience, for that matter) is the abusive use of the “oh, oh’s” by ZP Heart, which feels repetitive throughout the course of the album and, frankly, are highly annoying.
Next up are “Eye of the Hurricane” and “Hold On”, one very much like the other: with the band playing it safe, these are average songs with melodic choruses, mechanical execution and not much inspiration. By now it seems like they needed to deliver a 40 minute album by any means, so they just threw a couple of fillers here and there to complete it. Gladly, the album picks up the pace from here on and graces us with three very good songs: “Heading for Eternity”, “World on Fire” and “Make A Little Time”. The first starts heavier than any other on the album, with a catchy chorus and yet another great display of proficiency by the axemen duo. “World on Fire” is a fast-paced tune that makes it easy to differ an inspired effort like this from the fillers listed above. It is “Make A Little Time” that steals the show, though, by far the best effort in the album and one of the best in this new Tank. It has everything a metalhead could ask for: heaviness, cool songwriting, face-melting solos and, most important, attitude. “Living a Fantasy” and the instrumental “One for the Road” complete the album, with the first being more of a melodic tune with groovy riffs and the latter showcasing the dexterity of the musicians, ending the album on good terms.
All in all, ‘Valley of Tears’ is decent and well-crafted, even inspired in some parts, but I cannot help but feel that there is something missing every time I hear the album. Having ups and downs, the album will not amuse hardcore metalheads, especially those who love the NWOBHM movement, but should hook the fan base Tank managed to gather over the years, mainly because of the riff department. Playing safe for most of the effort, Tucker and Evans manage to maintain their legendary name unscathed, but have a lot of work to do if they want to be remembered for reviving Tank’s legacy.