SPV (2010)

Metal Church - The Present Wasteland

Thirty years ago, a young German by the name of Thomas Such was presented with a choice: either to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a coal miner in his hometown of Gelsenkirchen or try his luck at becoming a professional musician. It was both to our advantage and his that Tom opted for the latter, as, through sheer hard work, determination and plenty of talent, his Thrash Metal outfit Sodom became one of the most important bands of his era for extreme Metal music. After spending the mid-90s experimenting with styles as diverse as Punk and German beer songs, the beginning of the new millennium found Tom rendering his services once again to the scene that he helped found, releasing a string of good quality albums, the latest of which is the eleven track “In War And Pieces” – an album whose review you are now reading.

All of Sodom’s albums from 1997’s “Til Death Do Us Unite” and onwards have been based on a very specific and straight-forward musical formula – one that focuses on the power of the main head banging riff and of the equally important catchy chorus/refrain. This being the exact same formula that helped put together “In War And Pieces” undoubtedly raises an important question: How did Sodom, instead of sounding dated and repetitive, manage to release an album that sounds as fresh and exciting as “In War And Pieces”? Well, the answer is really simple – they are still using the exact same musical ingredients as before, but have slightly tinkered with the dosage. For the first time in many years, Bernd “Bernemann” Kost’s lead guitar does more than just providing us with flamboyant solos while Tom’s voice operates on many different levels/approaches – sometimes even in the very same composition. The result? Unbelievably good, even for those of us who are naturally optimistic when it comes to the release of a new Sodom album!

If you look closely into the band’s work you will easily discover that every single Sodom albums kicks off with a killer tune, in this case the same-titled “In War And Pieces”. Following an epic-sounding harmonic guitar theme, what grabs you by the throat is a massive low-chorded head banging riff which, combined with Tom’s screaming vocals in its amazingly catchy refrain, provide us so early on with one of the absolute highlights of the album! “Hellfire” is a pretty short good quality up-tempo Thrasher that’s expected from a band of such high status, whereas the follow up “Through Toxic Veins” features an array of melodic lead themes and flamboyant solos. If you cannot imagine Sodom’s music without a good sing-along refrain then “Nothing Counts Like Blood”, whereas those who indulge in the dangerous sport of head banging will definitely fall for “Storm Raging On”. The Amon Amarth sounding melodies of “Feigned Death Throes” prove that Sodom are not immune to modern ideas but really know how to best incorporate them into their music, whereas “Soul Contractor” could easily be a tribute to fellow-countrymen Kreator, based on the nature of its main riff. One of the greatest surprises of the album is “God Bless You” – a song that features an acoustic guitar intro, a heavy as hell main riff and an array of melodic solos that will simply take your breath away. More classic sounding riffs and twin guitar melodies can be found in “The Art Of Killing”, whereas the much faster “Knarrenheinz” in German will speed up things significantly, right before the classic Heavy Metal “Styptic Parasite” brings down the curtain on this great album!

I am not quite sure where it is that Tom Angelripper and his band mates get their inspiration from these last ten or so years but, wherever that it, is a great place, as good quality riffs and outstanding melodies come in abundance. If you ever wondered why Sodom are considered one of the most important European Thrash Metal bands in the history of this genre, the answer can be found in each and every one of the eleven compositions on offer. The only thing that troubles me a little bit is how the band will manage to reproduce the material featured in this album in a live environment, as there are many layers of guitars that have been incorporated in each song, but the answer to that question is, first of all, not significant in relation to the overall evaluation of the album and, secondly, will be given during one of Sodom’s upcoming live dates. This is a great album that you simply cannot afford to miss so, please indulge freely and liberally!

John Stefanis

Rating: ****1/2 (4.5/5.0)

In his show broadcast on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio on 10 May David Randall played a further selection of artists and albums included in the new Features series, “2020 Vision”.

Listen in to Get Ready to ROCK! Radio…
Click the appropriate icons at the top of the page.

Featured Albums w/c 25 May (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 FM Synchronized (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 THE ROCKET DOLLS The Art Of Disconnect (indie)
14:00-16:00 BEN KUNDER Searching For The Stranger (indie)

Power Plays w/c 11 May (Mon-Fri)

THE MERCY KILLS Alone (Golden Robot Records)
DEAD REYNOLDS By Your Side (indie)
THE JAILBIRDS Watery Grave (Golden Robot Records)
ALI MASS & MICKY MOODY These Times (Last Man Music)
MASSIVE WAGONS Bangin In Your Stereo (Earache)
UDO We Are One (AFM Records)

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