Mick Tucker and Cliff Evans are all that remain in their version of the English power metal troupe TANK. For their tenth album, “Valley of Tears”, TANK is once again rebuilt following the departures of Doogie White and Chris Dale. This time, Tucker and Evans recruit DRAGONFORCE singer ZP Theart, BLIND GUARDIAN bassist Barend Courbois and former SODOM drummer Bobby Schottkowski. While this new lineup presents the opportunity for a massive display of metal mayhem, “Valley of Tears” merely chugs instead of rumbles. Professionally played and laid out, the album’s general lack of dynamics and dialed-down tempos barely make it a hard rock album. Frankly, “Valley of Tears” sounds like a British DOKKEN album instead of a British power metal album.
The album’s title is inspired by the 1973 Golan Heights tank battle between Israel and Syria during Yom Kippur, in which a depleted Israeli army, supported by only two tanks, defended the Golan against seemingly insurmountable odds. A dramatic display of gallantry deserving of a brisk, hammered-out display of force: if you’re a metal band. TANK at least puts some mid-tempo zip and muscular riffs into the title track and “War Dance” thereafter to lead the album off, but by the time “Eye of a Hurricane” arrives, this album quickly runs out of gas.
“Eye of a Hurricane” is tailored straight out of a DOKKEN album, right down to ZP Theart capturing Don Dokken‘s nuances, if not his fullest pitches. Theart sings just fine here and on the entire album, but “Hold On” immediately afterwards nicks some of George Lynch‘s trustiest licks from the DOKKEN era, and ZP Theart plays right into the script. Frankly, the ploy TANK uses to be a smidge more accessible, right down to the tambourine jiggling and Bobby Schottkowski‘s trotting tempo on “Hold On”, is awkward. The DOKKEN shakes continue on “Living a Fantasy” and “Make a Little Time” along with “Heading for Eternity” and “World On Fire”, the latter two picking up the pace. For certain, Mick Tucker and Cliff Evans spent a bit of time glued into “Under Lock and Key” and “Back for the Attack” while writing “Valley of Tears”, right down to turning up Barend Courbois‘s swimming bass tracks, lobbed and drawled as Jeff Pilson would have.
In this sense, “Valley of Tears” is a disappointment, since the DOKKEN guys already did this sound to much better effect. While playing their parts as asked of them, the efforts of ZP Theart, Barend Courbois and Bobby Schottkowski are squandered when the opportunity was there to do something louder and wilder than this.