Album Review: The Tanks – Keep Breaking Down

The Tanks - Keep Breaking DownThe Tanks
Keep Breaking Down
Scenester Credentials

When Keep Breaking Down opener, “Command Divide” begins in earnest, after a groan of wheezy feedback, it feels like the two years since the Tanks’ debut, Summon Creature was but a day. Lead singer Kevin Koppes bellows over a thick, sludgy mess concocted by bass player Adam Luksetich and skins man Steve Bennet, before erupting into the stop-start thrash-mess we’ve come to expect from the trio.

The changes from the debut CD are small on the trio’s sophomore release. There are no major revisions in approach, but the delivery is steeped in confidence. For starters, the production is worlds better. The drums hit harder, the cymbals crash louder, the bass chugs along with more force, all without drowning out the vocals. Sumptuous compared to the flat and tinny sound of Summon Creature. The Tanks have also honed their already sinuous compositions.

Album stand-out “I Sense Injuries” opens with Luksetich’s ringing bass floating hauntingly over death-march drums before Koppes launches into a litany of disfigurements and traumas as it all gets kicked up to 11. With Koppes’s howls reaching out of the speaker and band grabbing you by the collar, leaving you battered and broken, the opening might be deemed an excessive flourish. However, its eeriness rings throughout the song, leaving “I Sense Injuries” teetering between a full-blown aggro freak-out and desperate unease. Keep Breaking Down is full of small touches like the opening bass line of “I Sense Injuries,” and The Tanks earn all of these embellishments.

The nods to studio wizardry (the ghostly echoes closing off “I Sense Injuries,” the scrapes and hisses at the head of “Just Mannequins”) all contribute to the inescapable mood of the record. So even when the album-capping track “Kirby Loves Dudes” disintegrates into squeals and machine-gun-stutters, it’s more the denouement to the almost constant rising action preceding it, rather than pretentious wankery.

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