Wehrmacht – “Biērmächt” (1988)

I’ve written before about my group of high school friends and about how during most of our senior year we hung out at John’s house. We hung out there because he shared the house with his older brother Dave, and it was just the two of them, their mom having taken a job overseas for a few years. We listened to music, skated the backyard halfpipe, and did the normal teenage guy stuff.

Sometimes Dave would open his bedroom window and put one of his big Cerwin-Vega speakers on the sill, pointed outside, and blast music bound to piss off the neighbors – Butthole Surfers, Motörhead, what have you. I remember pulling into the driveway one afternoon, getting out of my car, and being serenaded by Dave’s speaker playing Wehrmacht’s “Suck My Dick”.

That was my introduction to Wehrmacht.

Wehrmacht’s 1989 Biērmächt album quickly became a favorite for us. I managed to find a cassette copy, though never one on vinyl, and songs like “Suck My Dick” and “Drink Jack” quickly became part of the regular rotation, as did the absurd trilogy “Everb,” “E…!,” and “Micro-E!,” three songs with a combined run time of somewhere around 5 seconds. Wehrmacht’s blend of thrash and hardcore was something we hadn’t heard before, plus they sang about beer and Jack, so that was plus as well.

Most of the songs on Biērmächt incorporate one of two themes – violence and alcohol. They don’t praise violence, but it does feature prominently. They do, however, praise beer and drinking in songs like “Drink Beer and Be Free,” “Beermacht,” and the appropriately named “Drink Jack,” a brief song whose only lyrics are, in fact, Drink Jack. “Munchies” is more about food than alcohol, though beer does make a brief appearance there as well (If you don’t have beer / We’ll gladly drink your pop). “Suck My Dick” breaks the mold in that it’s basically a song that just tells the world what it can do, and the “E” song trifecta is just nothing but the letter “E,” quite literally, making it quite possibly the most intriguing part of the album.

Musically Biērmächt is some pretty decent thrash, with songs played at a blistering pace. It also doesn’t take itself too seriously which is refreshing sometimes, especially in this genre.

As soon as I saw this clean original pressing at Seattle’s newest used vinyl mecca, Daybreak Records, I knew I had to have it. Holly rolled her eyes, but there are just too many memories tied to this album, and since I no longer have that tape nor a copy on CD, I felt kind of justified in buying it. When you’re a vinyl junkie you get used to making up reasons to justify your purchases. If you track down an OG pressing, make sure to check inside for the one sheet lyric/photo insert. And if you’re a mega-Wehrmacht fan, there’s also the The Complete Beer-Soaked Collection 1985-1989 box set that includes five records and two CDs. I have to admit I almost bought this a while back due to my frustration at not being able to find a clean copy of Biērmächt, plus the fact that it includes a live show from the town I actually live in, but I couldn’t justify the $80 price tag to myself.

Glad to finally have this one on the turntable.

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