SODOM – In War and Pieces
Onkel Tom is back. Germany’s politically-paranoid thrash masters Sodom return with their follow up to their 2007 self-titled release. The album features an evolved sound, an angrier Angelripper and darker humour (especially with reference to the album cover).
Sodom has always been known for its extreme hatred towards political fundamentalism and how it rapes the common man’s livelihood. This time the focus is clearly on religious terrorism, its outcome and how self-righteous governments think they can correct it by killing the innocents associated with the faith. This point is made crystal clear right at the beginning of the first track, the title track. It starts with a very middle-East inspired chord tremolo riff which then becomes the signature Sodom barrage of slide-and-tremolo heaviness. Vocalist Tom Angelripper’s voice has become gruffer and he sounds angrier than ever. The song’s entire style is reminiscent of the style on M-16 and the entire album has elements of that and their self-titled work. The delve into old school is also more prominent now with very regular bass clef tremolos and, of course, the guitar solos. None of the solos here are the regular whammy-wails that are characteristic of the Slayer-inspired style of thrash metal. Each solo actually has a very narrative element to it with slow and fast interchanges, heavy scale exploration and a very methodical choice of note sequences in each measure of the rhythm. Basically if the solo on ‘City of God’ gave you goosebumps, expect a lot more of such sections here.
The choice of rhythms itself is a very narrative one as well. Songs like ‘Through Toxic Veins’, ‘Nothing Counts More Than Blood’ and ‘God Bless You’ have an extremely sneering yet emotive aspect to them. The rhythms are heavy,aggressive and yet ambient and that adds a lot to the general theme and message of the album being brought out. There are also songs like ‘Feigned Death Throes’,Storm Raging Up’ and ‘Soul Contraband’ that have a more direct approach with the aggressive melodies and yet there are moments of groove in those rhythms that keep the deliciously honest dark ‘Sodom’ humour alive. If you are by now alarmed at the lack of mention of traditional teutonic thrash chaos, donot despair for there are ‘Hellfire’ and the long-overdue ode to their mascot ‘Knarrenheinz’. The latter is sung in Deutsch and really sounds much more brutal than their English lyrics even though I don’t understand what Onkel Tom is saying.
As an overall wrap, I would say this album is a mix of everything that has defined Sodom over the ages, from start to finish. It has the aggression, the hatred, the dark humour and of course, the pounding heaviness that will make you scream ‘Danke Schoen Tom’ once the album gets over. Check it out for sure. Whether you are a thrasher or not.