Punk rock revolutionized music in Great Britain during the second half of the 1970s, but the movement had exploded, imploded, and been seriously diluted by the start of the 1980s, so that former punks could be found playing in bands as fresh-faced as new romantics Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet, and as crusty as the New Wave of British Heavy Metal acts Iron Maiden, Tygers of Pan Tang, and Tank. Coming together in South London in the spring of 1980, Tank were founded by vocalist/bassist Alasdair "Algy" Ward, formerly of the Damned, with brothers Peter (guitar) and Mark Brabbs (drums). Their...
Punk rock revolutionized music in Great Britain during the second half of the 1970s, but the movement had exploded, imploded, and been seriously diluted by the start of the 1980s, so that former punks could be found playing in bands as fresh-faced as new romantics Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet, and as crusty as the New Wave of British Heavy Metal acts Iron Maiden, Tygers of Pan Tang, and Tank. Coming together in South London in the spring of 1980, Tank were founded by vocalist/bassist Alasdair "Algy" Ward, formerly of the Damned, with brothers Peter (guitar) and Mark Brabbs (drums). Their power trio format, fast-paced repertoire, and high-energy delivery were all clearly inspired by the recent triumphs of Motörhead, and reflected a wider trend also championed by northern English contemporaries like Venom and Raven.
But whereas the latter were almost instantly consigned to underground status by their pseudo-satanic presentation and proto-thrash insanity, respectively, Tank used a more accessible -- if still quite intense -- approach to connect with a broader audience, and were soon reaping the benefits via U.K. and European tour support slots with Girlschool and Motörhead. Tank were also quickly signed to a record deal by independent label Kamaflage Records, and duly satisfied early supporters with 1981's Don't Walk Away 12", but it was the following year's Filth Hounds of Hades long-player that cemented their position among the New Wave of British Heavy Metal's most promising young acts. Produced by Motörhead guitarist "Fast" Eddie Clarke, the album spawned a pair of commercial singles and ensured regular touring throughout the summer, culminating in a Reading Festival appearance.
Yet the members of Tank were still able to find time to get back into the studio and release their second album, Power of the Hunter, before the end of 1982. Unfortunately, this rushed, surprisingly subdued effort (more blue-collar hard rock than heavy metal) possessed neither the forcefulness nor electrifying desire (and much less the sales volume) of its predecessor, and despite participating in a successful U.K. tour in support of Diamond Head to start off 1983, the members of Tank soon found themselves homeless when Kamaflage went bankrupt. Luckily for them, Music for Nations snapped up the free agents almost immediately, and, after adding second guitarist Mick Tucker (ex-White Spirit and no relation to the Sweet drummer) to help flesh out their sound, Tank proceeded to record their third album, This Means War, later that year. Most of the band's fans were in for quite a surprise when the record arrived in stores, though, because the brisk, unruly, and stripped-down sounds that had marked their early works had been significantly supplanted by multifaceted epics filled with lengthy guitar solos and even synthesizers! The good news was that none of these radical changes stopped Tank from rediscovering the heavier tendencies abandoned on Power of the Hunter, and they seemed well on their way to a full career comeback until the Brabbs brothers abruptly announced their departure from the group.
Algy and Tucker eventually decided to soldier on with the help of new recruits Cliff Evans (guitar) and Graeme Crallan (drums), and the newfangled Tank even opened for fast-rising labelmates Metallica on a romp across Europe that year. But their next studio platter, 1984's war-obsessed Honour & Blood, though even heavier than their previous outing, was uneven in quality, and an unqualified commercial bust. Tank were unceremoniously dropped by Music for Nations soon after, but carried on nonetheless, actually relocating to America with new drummer Gary Taylor and proceeding to tour what clubs would have them until finally being asked to record again in 1987, by GWR Records. Ironically, the resulting quite forgettable eponymous LP wasn't even released in America -- where Algy now claimed Tank enjoyed a fanatical following -- until two years later, by which time the group had finally splintered.
Algy Ward limped back to England and remained active with several different metal bands throughout the 1990s, including Atomgod, Warhead, and Necropolis. He briefly reconvened the latter-day Tank lads for a tour in 1997 (which spawned the following year's The Return of the Filth Hounds live album), and supervised the release of 2001's War of Attrition -- Live '81 disc, but not even die-hard fans ever expected a new studio album to emerge until Still at War appeared in 2002. This was credited to a Tank lineup consisting of the Ward/Tucker/Evans trio plus ex-Praying Mantis drummer Bruce Bisland, and was followed by more sporadic touring but, as of late, no additional recordings.