Tankcrimes 4 for $20 Review
In June, estimable Oakland label Tankcrimes offered an awesome deal. For $20, you could get 4 records from their back catalogue. There was quite an assortment. Most of the records on offer came in cool colors, too—snot-splatter, coke bottle, you name it. Shit, I thought, I usually pay $20 for one record. Why not roll the dice and pick up a few?
I was mainly aware of Tankcrimes because of the mighty Necrot, who released the flesh-flaying Mortal LP through the label in 2020. However, their discography is replete with everything from doomy death metal by Mortuous to sludgy punk from Dystopia. Several of the 4 for $20 offerings were already sold out, so, credit card in hand, I picked out a few that looked fun. In surprisingly short order, a big square box showed up on my doormat. Neat! I thought, and promptly put on Connoisseur’s Stoner Justice.
Here’s what I heard. Credit to my colleague/nemesis Iron Goddess of Mercy for suggesting I review these for you fine denizens of the Toilet.
Connoisseur – Stoner Justice (2015, opaque snot green LP)
When you hear the title Stoner Justice, you’ll probably hear Sleep or Bongzilla in your head. Au contraire, mon stonère. Stoner Justice is less of a fuzzed-out indica vibe and much more of a bong-smashing sativa. Connoisseur plays sludge-infused grind punk that, when you’re not listening to the lyrics, is eminently moshable. However, when you listen closer, you realize this album is also fucking hilarious. Many of the songs are about the relatable frustrations of moocher friends and empty bags. Get a bowlful of “No Dice”:
No weed/No hash/No wax/No oil/No kief/No dice
Get the/Fuck out/Of here/I’ve never/Seen you/With weed/Ever
A particular highlight is the midtempo anthem extolling Chronic Dave, “a hero to us all.” Things get stranger on the LP’s back half, as if the blunt in honor of Chronic Dave was laced. The lyrics here deal with things like the less-relatable frustration of being turned into a literal zombie by corporate marijuana. This record may be my favorite of the 4—it’s a really fun listen, equal parts anthemic pot punk and hallucinatory sludge, enjoyable sober or blazed.
Ghoul – Hang Ten (2016, clear blue 10″)
I’d be lying if I said I never picked records based on their cover art—in fact, I’d say every third record I buy on Bandcamp I initially listened to because it looked cool. Ghoul’s cover art here perfectly represents what’s inside. I suspect many readers here are familiar with this side project by members of Impaled and Exhumed, who make rollicking crossover thrash Lemmy would likely enjoy. This particular EP seems to function as a sort of concept album about a motorcycle gang called the Cannibals.
Surprisingly to me given Dungeon Bastards, most of this album is instrumental. “Kreeg,” an autobiographical track about one of these hog-riding, flesh-eating characters, is the only track with a major vocal presence, though motorcycle engines throughout underscore Hang Ten’s core premise. Boy, can this 4-piece shred. If you want 13 minutes of excellent riffs, this is a fun EP. If you want an uglier, more fully realized record, you’ll be better served by their full-lengths.
The Shrine – Waiting for the War (2015, black/blue/red splatter single)
This single is the coolest-looking record but the least interesting of the four, at least to my ears. The Shrine describe themselves as “psychedelic violence rock and roll,” but (appropriately given the title of this single) I’m still waiting for the violence part. “Waiting for the War” echoes bands like Motörhead and is plenty okay, while “Rare Breed” (title track for the Rare Breed LP) is your typical cock-rock “she’s a wild one, bro” song. It’s fun, to be sure, and the bass tone is fantastic, but my feeling was this was nothing bands like The Sword haven’t done better. Cool video, though.
Victims – SIRENS (2016, coke bottle LP)
The last of my 4 is SIRENS by Swedish hardcore outfit Victims. Though I’m less familiar with their style, this brusque LP felt like the platonic ideal of a d-beat record to me. There are fun riffs, some poignant melodies, shouted vocals, and a sense of urgency that carry each song forward. The riffs in “Errors” and “Storm” were particular favorites, and the title track has some excellent chuggs.
The main issue here is there’s seldom any variation in tempo. By the end of the record, I’d sort of lost the plot, and the songs began to sound structurally the same. Again, I’m not a crust aficionado, so this might be a facet of the genre overall, but I got a little bored with SIRENS and would have been just fine with a 6-song EP.
So was it worth it? Oh, absolutely. I heard new music, I grew my vinyl collection, I laughed, I cried (not actually). Tankcrimes seems to run promotions semi-regularly, so keep a lookout if you, too, want to learn of new legends and support DIY artists. Here’s to Chronic Dave!