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The greatest honour history can bestow is the title of peacemaker. Richard Nixon, the innocent comrade that, of course, had nothing to do with the Watergate affair, said this sentence while being at risk to suffocate in view of his own emotiveness. But he didn't make peace in Vietnam. He even didn't bring the war to a glorious end.
Thomas Such, better known as Tom Angelripper, did never speak very pathetic sentences. The dudes from his home region are usually not interested in making big words. Instead, he just released "Agent Orange" in cooperation with Chris Witchhunter and Frank Blackfire. Unlike Nixon, Tom brought this project to a glorious end. No doubt, today it is rather embarrassing for extreme metal bands to look for commercial success. But Sodom was the first thrash band that hit the German charts and this was a kind of unexpected triumph and a totally new experience at the same time. It felt extremely good, because the three-piece had not modified its style. The dudes played thrash metal, less amateurish than they did on the very early outputs, but still fast and furious. To put the Vietnam War in the centre of the martial lyrics was both original and generic. It quickly became clear that Sodom were in the right place at the right time. We, the positively surprised fans, studied the charts and were convinced that extreme metal had become an unstoppable force. World domination was near.
Leaving aside our feverish dreams, "Agent Orange" marked a milestone for Sodom, not only because of its commercial success. The occult, sometimes biblically inspired or surreal scenarios of their former lyrics did not show up anymore. The songs of the third full-length had a more realistic content and this reorientation gave the album an oppressive aura. Nevertheless, the music was still highly impressive and it has lost nothing of its fascination to this day. From the beginning to the end, each and every track wins over with its accessible, more or less conventional design. I don't speak about primitive patterns, far from it. It is rather the case that the band demonstrates its newly attained song-writing skills. "Agent Orange" marks the final point of the breathtaking evolution of Sodom. Clearly structured songs have replaced slightly crude noise attacks. Both approaches have their charm, but there can be doubt that "Agent Orange" is the masterpiece of the early Sodom.
I don't want to bore anybody with the list of my personal favourites. It is more or less identical with the song list. Only the fairly introvert "Remember the Fallen" has to struggle in order to keep up with the pace of the other songs. This can be taken literally - it is the slowest piece of the album. In addition, its riffing is solid, but relatively predictable. However, the cruelty of wars is reflected by other songs. The straight title track kicks off the album with sharp and catchy riffs while benefitting from a very charismatic vocal performance of Angelripper. He spits out the lyrics with a maximum of bitterness and this way of proceeding hits the bull's eye in view of the criminal herbicidal operations that he refers. "Magic Dragon" with its ominous beginning mirrors the fear of the soldiers before the song accelerates speed and turns into another neckbreaking outburst of impulsiveness.
To avoid misunderstandings, "Agent Orange" is not a typical concept work. The lyrics of "Exhibition Bout" or "Incest" do not deal with the traumatic experience of the US Army in the jungle. Yet these tunes keep the level of aggression and they do it with great ease while the vocals express contempt and disgust. I cannot find a difference between the Vietnam and the non-Vietnam songs in terms of velocity, pressure or restlessness. Inter alia the flawless production guarantees a constantly powerful appearance. Commander Angelripper doesn't go into the war without a comforting amount of munitions.
Undeniably, "Agent Orange" has become an icon of thrash metal in its purest form. It is immune against external influences while concentrating on the essential features of the genre. Today one might call the here presented approach old fashioned, but this was state of the art thrash at the time of the album's publication. Moreover, its energizing effect is still present. Not to mention its coherence, its homogeneity and last but not least its commercial success. All these elements gave the scene important impulses and Sodom gained new fans. I don't know whether Nixon bought a copy. Honestly speaking, I fear that this old Quaker had a miserable music taste. However, rest in peace, Richie. Other politicians also failed to make peace. Syria is just one example among many.
When you perfect a formula so well, it often leaves little to discuss about it. That's what Sodom has done here. Nothing screams that this is a masterpiece that deserves to be worshiped on an altar, yet there's no major negative aspects about it. The problem when it comes to reviewing average to decent records is that it doesn't leave you with a lot of material to elaborate on. That's why I can go on about St. Anger until I'm blue in the face despite how awful it is. I wanted to preface with this, so if I seem to nitpick a lot, then you know why.
Anyway, the album opens with "Agent Orange". A song that's really a culmination of a bunch of different thrash metal styles. The opening riff is akin to Practice What You Preach era Testament with it evoking a great desire to headbang. It swiftly moves on to something of the likes of Ride the Lightning era Metallica. However, those just serve as the appetizers to the rapidly fast pace that takes over the rest of the song. Seriously, tapping your foot to this tempo makes you look like you've been drinking too many Monster energy drinks. Right then, it transitions to a Slayer-esque section just as it gradually picks up speed again. The song keeps that Slayer influence at hand for the solo where it flat out abuses that whammy bar. Lyrically, the song details the use and effects of the cancerous chemical we all know and love; Agent Orange. Actually, Angelripper does a great job describing the horrors that this chemical carries and pens a memorable chorus that always ends with the line, "A fire that doesn't burn". You know, just to really drive in the point. All of that comes together to make the best song off this album.
Going back to the subject of lyrics, this album is quite interesting in that regard. The main theme surrounding this album is the Vietnam War which begs the question: Why are so many metal bands interested in the Vietnam War. You got Napalm Death, Jungle Rot, Sodom, Anvil, Manowar, Bolt Thrower, Exodus, Blind Guardian, Terrorizer, Nuclear Assault, and Sabaton writing stuff about the Vietnam War. I can see why Black Sabbath would write about it, because the war was still raging around that time. I personally find the Vietnam War to be an overly complicated and overly political to even be invested in. Enough of that rambling, anyway, Tom Angelripper does a great job with the lyrical content on Agent Orange. He's clearly very passionate and strangely fascinated with the subject. He's able to inject so much passion throughout this album without resorting to being an anti-war hippie. To put it bluntly, it's something that I like given that I'm a bit of a self-identified historian.
Agent Orange is surprisingly rather varied than one is to expect. You have your insanely fast thrash metal tunes like "Tired and Red" and "Incest", but then you get into your slower tracks like "Remember the Fallen". This variety really breaks up the monotony of the album's full-throttle nature. That's before you get into the heavily hardcore punk influenced "Ausgebombt". This track is an almost jarring turn for Agent Orange which is easily identifiable as Teutonic thrash metal album. Speaking of which, this is probably the first straight thrash metal record from Sodom. Persecution Mania was definitely thrash, but it still had traces of their early black metal roots. Here, anything that was black metal was swept away in the recording process. They're certainly able to give up their elements of black metal for a heavy metal approach on the track "Don't Walk Away". Apparently, it's a Tank cover for whom I can't say I'm too familiar with. How does it fare with the original? Well, it seems that Sodom chose to directly cover the song as oppose to putting it in their own style. It's a little different from the original. For one, there isn't a scream at the beginning of the song which is probably due to it being way out of Tom's vocal range. There also isn't the diminished vocal effect on the chorus which is a welcome improvement. The cover is a little heavier with the bass being more prominent in the mix, but besides that, it's pretty similar. I guess the cover serves as an homage to Tank rather than twisting the song into their own. It's pretty much on par with the original when it comes to quality, so there isn't a clearly better version.
Overall, I recommend Agent Orange. I'm not nearly as attached to this album as so many other people are. I definitely wouldn't go as far as to claim that it's the best thrash metal album of all time. For what it's worth, it's a solid release with a diverse number of heavy hitting, violently fast songs on it. I also admire Angelripper's passion that went into writing the lyrics and overall themes of Agent Orange. In terms of the band's career, this certainly was a great record for them. It was their commercial breakthrough in Germany which is remarkable considering they didn't have to water-down their sound. I guess I can look at this album in a more positive light just for that.
How about some classic thrash? How about some strong classic thrash? Well then good, because this is a review for Agent Orange. Its strong, packed with raw power and energy and brimmed with thrashy hardiness. Its also by none other than Sodom, my personal favorite of ye olde German thrashers.
So what to talk about first? Let's talk guitars. Like every good thrash album you have an abundance of fast, muscled and thrashy riffs. Of course, in order to be a classic or something that stands out it needs to have a bit of variety so it can't be a train of non stop thrash. The album begins with Agent Orange which starts with a slower but still thrashy riff, moves to a more melodic section before it jumps into the Teutonic madness. Tired and Red has a brief acoustic interlude half way through. Every song has a long instrumental section and of course shredding guitar solos.
Then of course we have Angelripper's raspy yells as vocals. This is the main style of vocals used, but there are also gang shouts here and there, especially on their cover of Don't Walk Away if you have certain later releases of the album. There's even a track with melodic singing.
Sadly however, while the production allows everything to be heard its not the best. The bass can be heard and it follows with the guitar most of the time but it sounds less like the 4 string instrument we're all familiar with and more like a lot of low end popping noise. The drummer on the other hand sounds fine for the most part, he delivers his fast paced beats with no problem but his fills sound like plastic.
In a quick nutshell -ignoring the outliers- songs generally fire up with a quick guitar riff which will be accompanied by Angelripper's harsh narrations of war, incest and evil. It'll go along a variation of the fairly standard 'verse-chorus-verse-chorus-solo/bridge-chorus' structure using long instrumental breaks in between the second chorus and the solo which of course emphasizes the instrumental elements of the music. The end result is a raw and energetic thrash album with a strong war vibe.
Agent Orange is a strong thrasher impeded only by a few production issues and the fact that the original length of 8 songs feels a bit too short.
Seriously... if this isn’t the greatest thrash metal album ever made, it’s just because “Persecution Mania” actually exists. Pretty much like the diatribe about Dissection’s “The Somberlain” and “Storm of the Light’s Bane”, I never understood why this album gets all this huge amount of praise in comparison to its predecessor, while they would both deserve the same level of recognition. It could be due to the slightly catchier nature of this album, I don’t know.
However, what I could say with certainty is that Sodom did it again: after the promotional tour for “Persecution Mania”, during which was recorded the “Mortal Way of Live” album, the band went back to West-Berlin in 1989 in order to create another masterful opus, “Agent Orange”. As the “Lords of Depravity” documentary tells, there was some tension among the band members during that precise period, and it was clear that Frank Blackfire was going to leave the band in short time: yet, “Agent Orange” turned out to be the most important album in Sodom’s career, and wholly brought them to international recognition like never before. It was the album that allowed Tom to stop working in coal mines and to finally live up on the band’s fame, which was his main dream since the times when he started to play bass.
1989 was the same year of thrash classics such as the masterpiece “Beneath the Remains”, and well... actually, that album could easily be compared to “Agent Orange”, though the latter is even heavier, faster and more furious. This record does nothing but continue Sodom’s natural evolution toward a less raw and more refined sound: the main roots draw from “Persecution Mania”, and most of the peculiarities of that album are luckily maintained, but there is also a slightly major focus on catchy mid-paced sections and a slightly major “open-mindedness” towards melody. However, don’t think that this album is less intense or less developed in comparison to its predecessor, because you couldn’t be more wrong: the Teutonic trio is still at its highest peak in terms of inspiration and songwriting ability, and they demonstrate it both in the “already explored” territories and in the relatively “new” ones. Plus, Harris Johns’ production is maybe even more potent and punishing than before, thanks to a better engineering work and a slightly major focus on the “Scott Burns-like” side of things (it’s ironical to think that, right in that period, “Beneath the Remains” was being produced!), but still maintaining a unique and identifiable sound that, in the most intense moments, manages to evoke that same warlike feeling.
This is especially audible in the title-track, which is probably the closest song to “Persecution Mania”, though putting a bit more emphasis on thrashy mid-tempos: the opening mid-paced riff, in fact, is probably the catchiest thing you could ever had heard in a Sodom song until that time, yet it still manages to sound like a fucking rain of bombs that falls upon your head (bombenhagel? Uh uh...), exactly like on the previous album, if not even more; this feeling, of course, is further increased to paroxysmal levels by the iconic, insanely aggressive and unbelievably violent fast riffage that makes of this track a classic (some paragons have been made with Sacred Reich’s “Death Squad”, but that riff isn’t nearly as direct and deflagrating as Sodom’s one). “Agent orange... a fire that doesn’t burn!” repeats Tom with the same rough vocals of the previous album, and the slowest section of the song even reminds you a bit to “Nuclear Winter”, due to the same emphasis on “desolated atmospheres of war”, this time even empowered by the inclusion of a sample. This song is a timeless hymn for every respectable thrasher, and it’s also one of the first songs that ever caught my attention when I began listening to Sodom.
However, the album is just at the beginning. Right from the second track you notice that something has changed; even a bestial, furious assault like “Tired and Red” (driven by a very minimal, yet genial and brutal riff) already shows that the band is experimenting different paths: without warning, the assault suddenly interrupts, replaced by a melancholic acoustic interlude that sounds almost like a “requiem for the fallen soldiers”. In addition, Tom’s vocals, though still being harsh and violent, are slightly less “demonic” and hateful than on the previous album. We could say that, while “Persecution Mania” was more “compact” even in its richness of ideas, “Agent Orange” is more explicitly “polyhedral” in its formula: as a result, even though maintaining an “extreme/Teutonic thrash” perspective, this album embodies every facet of thrash metal (not casually, I just happened to make a paragon with a U.S. band like Sacred Reich!), all adapted and perfectly integrated in the band’s sound, with a very fresh and varied result.
And so, even hyper-fast songs like “Incest”, “Exhibition Bout” and the aforementioned “Tired and Red” are filled with mid-paced interludes that, instead of focusing on dark and gloomy atmospheres, emphasize way more on groove (truth be told, some excellent signs of this component were already findable on the slow section of “Enchanted Land”) and draw a lot from classic U.S. thrash metal (from which comes the increase of catchiness), but at the same time, the band adapts flawlessly that well-known formula to their already established trademark sound. All of this, united with a standout level of inspiration, what does obtain? Well... these are probably the most remarkable and memorable, yet most violent mid-tempos you’ll ever find on a thrash metal album: they pound upon your head like a fucking bulldozer and, at the same time, show the band’s distinct taste in terms of thrashy grooves (just listen to the massive groove of “Incest” from 2:18!), keeping away from the latent genericness of most late-80’s U.S. thrash (Blackfire’s enrichments with Maiden-esque harmonizations on “Incest” and “Exhibition Bout” contribute to improve the result). Though in their simplicity, these mid-tempos overcome even those of Sepultura’s “Beneath the Remains” and “Arise” (which are already some of the best ones you can ever find in thrash metal), as another demonstration of Sodom’s competence at molding every form of 80’s extreme metal at their own convenience.
However, in terms of mid-tempos, the most iconic episode of “Agent Orange” is undoubtedly the well-known “Remember the Fallen”, which is also the most melodic song ever written by Sodom until then: those cadenced palm-muted riffs, enriched by some occasional guitar phrasings and beautiful solos, build up a very consistent, tasty, catchy and threatening melodic construction which goes in a crescendo throughout each verse, showing the band in a totally comfortable state with slow/mid-paced structures. And on this song, for the first time, Tom manages to properly sing some melodic vocal lines:
”Honour the fallen heroes,
see their last resting place...
perished in the battle of nations,
where they found eternal peace.
Do you know the use of their decorations?
Awarded for patriotism!
They left their life in fire,
but don’t know even why!”
Sodom had already written a lot of shocking and apocalyptic lyrics about war (the first of all being “Burst Command Til War”, from “In the Sign of Evil”), but on this song they take a very different approach to this topic, showing and denouncing from an external point of view the slaughter of countless innocent, unaware soldiers (while songs like “Persecution Mania”, “Nuclear Winter” or “Bombenhagel” were narrated in first person). After all, this is pretty much the whole concept of “Agent Orange”: ”this album is dedicated to all people - soldiers and civilians - who died by senseless aggressions of wars all over the world.”
However, the most exciting moments of an inspired thrash metal album are usually the faster ones, and Sodom still shines in that department: their up-tempos are still insanely fast and pissed off, and the faster riffs are still as hateful as those of “Persecution Mania”, even if the formula has slightly changed: most of the tremolo picking is gone, leaving more space to muted strings in a typical thrash vein, and the abstention from “open melodies” has been broken; now, instead of a completely “black-as-pitch” formula, the band prefers opting for more “audacious” melodic progressions. This choice isn’t made in order to betray the brutal spirit of “Persecution Mania”, but, on the contrary, in order to keep it alive in the freshest way possible, even on a relatively “softer” album like this.
Stylistically speaking, some paragons could be made with other thrash bands of the same current, such as early Necrodeath, late-80’s Kreator or early Assorted Heap (all of them known for their taste about twisted, hateful riffage): yet, none of these bands managed to craft out something as intense and memorable as the main riff of “Baptism of Fire”, which is one of the greatest and most twisted thrash riffs I’ve ever heard, with a complex melodic progression that sounds almost akin to death metal and expresses flawlessly the drama and the tension of the described scenery. The band’s creativity in terms of fast and highly expressive riff-sequences is fully displayed also on “Incest”, which offers some of the most genial riffs ever written by Sodom, able to evoke a masterfully breath-taking, relentless and anxious atmosphere that really knows no paragons in the whole thrash metal genre. Also the very underrated “Exhibition Bout” contains some monstrously tense, gloomy and hateful riffs in that same way, but this time, the real highlight is constituted by the awesome slow/mid-paced section, where Tom displays some other creepy, deep vocals in his older style, and Frank Blackfire crafts out another one of his long, epic, melodic solos which manage to enforce the absurd sense of drama.
But, in this regard, the definitive demonstration that Sodom didn’t lose their incredible taste for genial song-constructions full of pathos comes in the form of “Magic Dragon”, whose lyrics this time are told from the point of view of the “aggressors”. The song begins with some sneaky, evil, spine-chilling razor-sharp mid-paced riffs whose level of tension goes increasing more and more as time passes, while Tom tells the planning of a new attack with absolute cynicism and perfidy (in definite contrast with the heartfelt denounces of “Remember the Fallen”); then, suddenly, the song speeds up with another breath-taking riff-sequence that evokes a feeling of urgency, tension and wickedness, which culminates in the absurd break upon which Tom yells the memorable verses:
”Orders are clear:
CRUSH ‘EM... to win the war!”
The riff-accompaniment in that sequence is just godlike. The whole thing is nothing less than spectacular, period. The track then evolves in another successfully catchy galloping mid-tempo in the typical vein of this album, and closes with a slow riff which evokes again the disasters that had been left after the attack, in the typical “interactive” approach at scenarios of war that Sodom used to offer in several songs at that time: this is another masterpiece of emotionally-driven musical composition, as well as the definitive demonstration that these guys really knew what they were doing while composing their songs, crafting them minutely in every detail in order to obtain a precise kind of atmosphere.
In addition to the aforementioned elements, on this album the “atypical” tracks are even more standout than on “Persecution Mania”: there is a full incursion into punk territory (probably the first of Sodom’s career), under the name of “Ausgebombt”, which features a vigorous, aggressive and catchy hardcorish riff that you’re instantly gonna love, with the further addition of an awesome, addictive chorus and another epic, over-the-top guitar solo. However, if you possess this album in CD or cassette, you’re even gonna hear a very weird ending: the final track is nothing but a cover song of one of Tom’s favourite bands, the almighty Tank. The song in question, “Don’t Walk Away”, differently from the “Iron Fist” cover of the previous album, is played very similarly to the original version and sets itself definitely apart from the band’s usual style. Even the production sounds different from the other songs: the guitars possess a definitely softer distortion, way more in line with early-80’s classic heavy metal, and the feeling of those times is perfectly captured. When I fell in love with this album, I also noticed and appreciated this cover, and this allowed me to discover Tank (which would instantly become my second favourite NWOBHM band right after Iron Maiden), along with many other hidden gems of traditional heavy metal. This, just as another demonstration of Sodom’s importance upon my musical development.
My final conclusion about the “Persecution Mania / Agent Orange” duo is that, if the former could easily be considered as the absolute epitome of extreme metal (thrash, death and black altogether), the latter seems to epitomize thrash metal in a more “specific” way. “Agent Orange” contains everything a thrash album would require, all brought to absolute excellence: despite having been released quite late in comparison to most other thrash classics, the songwriting of this opus speaks for itself and compensates its lateness at the party and its lack of “innovation”; what matters is that these songs are still as fresh and inspired as they could ever be in this genre. It’s ironic to think that, in terms of heaviness and brutality, Sodom with these two albums humiliated even bands of theoretically more “extreme” subgenres, from classic death metal (which was a new thing in 1989) to hyper-fast, slammy/gory stuff of nowadays: if I wanna listen to something really “extreme”, which manages to freak me out beyond control and pump me up at the same time, “Persecution Mania” and “Agent Orange” are usually my direct first choices. No other “extreme” band, regardless of how “fast” and “brutal” it can be, will ever overcome these two masterpieces.
Sodom. “Agent Orange”. 1989. Steamhammer. Bundesrepublik Deutschland.
It seems there is just nothing left to add as so much praise has been dedicated to this piece of art. I also belong to the camp that sees Agent Orange as Sodoms’s best and to be honest I simply cannot even think of a single argument against this CD - it is pure perfection and below I briefly summarize why it may be the case.
You rarely find an album that is not conceptual, yet is perceived as one. Agent Orange is a metal movie, short and extremely cohesive in both musical and lyrical aspects. It repeats the phenomenon of Reign in Blood from the fellow Californian thrashers. Fast tempos, catchy riffs of 4-minute songs, and the discourse unity of lyrics make you watch a coherent movie in your head while listening to the CD. Sodom finally found themselves in Agent Orange and this was their first release where 100% of the material was anti-war discourse. In the end, it never gets boring to load a CD in a stereo as you just want to listen/watch your less than 40-minute long movie again and again.
The album boasted crystal clear production. I would even say they topped Persecution Mania with this one, and the latter was flawless. I admire the first three Sodoms and it is always fascinating to compare them – absolutely different albums in all respects – knowing that it was still the same band and still the same guys from the mines of Gelsenkirchen. Though Sodom’s sound palette and playing patterns evolved with this one, Agent... was not as fast, bold, and straightforward as the two previous studio releases and it featured several instances of broken rhythms ideally interwoven in songs’ structures.
Sodom peaked with Agent Orange and they never topped it afterwards. There was some age magic involved there. You know, it is like the recording was done during those years, when they were still young to burn, but already too experienced to figure out how to put out the best of themselves. In this particular case, it reminds me of Rust in Peace by Megadeth to some extent.
Symbolically, this CD, dedicated to war victims in all the world and titled after a chemical weapon used in the Vietnam War against the backed by the USSR natives, was released just several months prior to the fall of Berlin Wall, the end of communist era in DDR and unification of Germany. Agent Orange symbolically hit again. In another war, the Cold one, but back then it hit with the power of words and played its role to some extent in putting an end to the conflict and not in stirring it up.
“Spielt nicht mit dem Tod Der Krieg ist nicht mehr weit Vernichtet eure Waffen Lernt aus der Vergangenheit“.
I only recently got into Sodom (the band, nothing rude). I listened to them a few years ago and didn't really care for them, possibly while i was going through a phase of not bothering with thrash at all. Somewhere down the line, i got a renewed urge to explore the thrash i didn't already own which led me to Sodom and Destruction among others. I knew this album was widely regarded as one of Sodom's best so i started here. All i can say is i've been missing out!
Sodom have evolved over the years. Firstly a raw, Venom inspired black metal sound led to thrash, then a punkier phase and finally back to thrash. Sort of like Slayer meets Kreator but not as frantic. Agent Orange is the peak of the first thrash period both critically and commercially. This album apparently sold over 100,000 copies in their native Germany and charted fairly highly, It's a shame then that thrash pretty much died a couple of years after this otherwise they may have maintained their popularity.
This album is a little bit samey at times, a common trait of thrash metal or any album that sticks rigidly to a style. This isn't a major complaint though as the songwriting is strong. The opening 3 songs are probably the best, but the Motorhead inspired 'Ausgebombt' is another highlight. The speed of the album is more mid-paced to fairly fast, it has just enough variety to keep things interesting and is fairly short so you won't stop paying attention while listening. The production is nice and clear without being overproduced, all of the instruments are well balanced and the talent of Frank Blackfire really shone through on this album, his last with the band unfortunately (he joined Kreator after this).
This is definitely the album to get if you're new to Sodom, it's a really solid thrash album with fairly harsh vocals but not like the early releases, and is also a better album than most of their more recent thrash albums (which are also pretty good).
Recommended tracks: Agent Orange, Tired and Red, Ausgebombt
The third album from German thrashers Sodom, “Agent Orange,” is one of the bands’, and the thrash genre as a whole, more hallowed works and is certainly worthy of such praise with a slew of stand-out tracks and plenty of charging songs that certainly appeal to their fans.
Following in the footsteps of their previous effort, there’s not much here that’s really all that different in terms of the sound of the album. Fueled by ferocious, tightly-executed riffing and intricate bass-work, the songs here are fast and up-tempo with a darker sound than would be the norm for the bay area type of thrash bands, with a similar life to them that comes from the dexterous drumming on display. The riffing also has a much more heavier atmosphere to them than the typical thrash band, aided by the stylistic incorporation last album of lengthy instrumental segments mid-way through the song to let the main riff breathe for a while, and that lets the album’s few tracks to generate a heavier, darker atmosphere than normal when the one stellar riff in the song is given plenty of time to ingratiate itself with the listener. Wisely chosen among the style to do this tactic is the fact that it’s fast and up-tempo traditional thrash riffs this is employed for, making it all the more enjoyable. Again, the drumming is another stand-out factor here with a dexterous display that features everything from simplistic punk fills to raging hyper-speed blasts and double-bass fills that give it an extra intensity, all the while delivering a pounding, thunderous production job that makes them even more forceful and devastating. By this time, the vocals have changed slightly as they’re now slightly coherent instead of the raspy, dirty growls that permeated their early works, so much like the cleaning-up and streamlining of their sonic attack the vocals do so as well. It’s taken a little longer, but even with a nasty snarl and a few growls this is the most audible the lyrics have been yet and makes the songs stand-out quite a bit with a new trick up its sleeve, regardless of how important the matter actually is.
Surprisingly, there’s no real trick to this album in terms of splitting it up into sides. The songs throughout are all stylistically the same, though if one were to make a quick overview of the album it would seem that the more intense, charging tracks are uploaded in the front half while the second half contains more of a varied overview of the band’s career. Now, it’s not varied so much in the sense of featuring wild experimentations, but more along the lines of minor stylistic differences that seem to stem from their numerous influences. One is a dirty streamlined bout of thrash that wouldn’t be out-of-place on their first full-length, another’s a little slower and forsakes the speed and intensity in favor of the more chaotic material that they used to play, one’s pretty punk-like in its simplicity and intense energy while the last one is a tight, aggressive thrasher the likes of which was found on their second album. While this may not seem like it’s much compared to the more straight-forward and streamlined efforts on the front-half, it does allow the album a slight amount of difference between the two parts, and is certainly part of what gives the album a real energy as it blasts through.
The songs on the album are some of the finest of their career, including many absolute stand-outs and feature several career highlights. It’s starts with a bang as the immortal title track starts it off with a crushing intro featuring stellar drumming and moody riffing that blasts into an intense thrashing break before mid-tempo break mid-section that turns into hyper-speed instrumental break, becoming one of their more immortal highlights. Almost as legendary is ‘Tired and Red,’ as it starts with a hyper-speed guitar-and-drum heavy intro with a frenetic mid-tempo groove that gets incredibly interesting midway through with a moody acoustic guitar interlude of melodic riffing that segues back into a full-on thrash assault, generating it’s second absolute classic. The outright pounding thrash of ‘Incest’ comes complete with crushing drums and intense riffing that, unfortunately, doesn’t do anything special after the catchy chorus and stellar soloing that run rampant throughout which leaves it lagging slightly behind the two landmark tracks that came before. Thankfully, we get another classic in the absolute majesty of ‘Remember the Fallen,’ switching things up slightly with a groovy mid-tempo chug that drops the thrashing bombast and dirty vocals for a powerful, overwhelming experience in a mid-tempo bombast that’s almost foreign to the sound, yet the fact it comes off as classy as it does makes it one of the bands’ better tracks.
The second half, while it may be considered experimental, is pretty much more of the same as what was found in the upper half. ‘Magic Dragon’ starts off with a slow, dirge-like intro with plenty of intense drumming and frantic riffing that falls flat on the intense sections due to a recurrence of a minor flaw found in the previous album with an inability to really write intense drum patterns that fit the material, and the predominant doom-like riffing and pace overall bring this one down somewhat. The slightly better ‘Exhibition Bout’ features more of that dirty aggression found on the first album with mid-tempo riffing, explosive drumming and utterly darker vocals mixed with a fine solo flair, creating a solid if unspectacular effort. It all ends with a bang as we get two more stand-out tracks, starting with the infectious and simplistic ‘Ausgebombt,’ which is a blast of pure punk feel with dexterous drumming, chaotic bass-work and thrashy riffing explodes in blast of pure energy and speed that’s one of their more timeless tunes. It all ends with ‘Baptism of Fire,’ a blast of blazing speed with furious riffing, pounding drumming, backing chorus shouts and shifts between utterly extreme hyper-speed thrashing and mid-tempo breathers, bringing in another fantastic track to book-end the album with two standouts on either end.
Overall, this album is a total masterpiece and really stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the preceding album as outright classics of the genre. They’re both, especially this one, are near flawless, featuring so many worthwhile elements that are part and parcel of the thrash genre and are definitely among the top echelons of the genre, while as for which one works better is a matter of mere taste. The previous one is slightly more experimental and takes a few different twists and turns whilst it experiments with the new sound, while here it’s content to just utilize that streamlined blasting to maximum effect as it devastates all those around it with air-strike efficiency. It’s more devastating and certainly more polished at what it does, leaving this one another mandatory requirement for all thrash fans or those looking for the complete German thrash experience.
Talk about thrash metal quality, intelligent, intense, aggressive, ever changing and original release here. A monumental one in all aspects. It shows some similarities to Kreator's "Coma of Souls", which is a definite one that is from another German descent, but Sodom rips it up here showing that they too can measure up to the genius syndrome. Riffs are fast, technical, intense and totally amazing. Too bad like other bands they just went downhill after their peak albums were delivered. I would think that bands would get even better and evolve rather than cop out and play things that they think listeners want to hear. I would say it's wrong to think that in music, but it happens so often.
Thrash metal bands like old Metallica, Exodus, Testament, Kreator, Sepultura and Sodom all reigned during an 80's minor 90's eras. A lot of them just lost it, but other bands like Destruction and even Kreator are belting out solid releases. Testament too, but Sodom's newer material isn't even close to being original like "Agent Orange" is. This band totally annihilates here, and to give a higher than 100% if it existed. You get rock solid production quality here and chunky guitar riffs that explode and also areas that are just groove based. So it's not entirely intense all the way through, but shows variety in songwriting abilities.
The solos by Frank Blackfire (ex-Kreator) are just technical and amazing all over the fretboard. Angeripper's voice doesn't sound like Schmier's on this one, it seemed more original than his, although not many thrash metal bands that I consider to be good on the vocals. Many exceptions, but as a whole, the intensity and quality reign in the music. However, I will detract and say that Angelripper just kicks ass and his voice on here sounds more like Dave Mustaine's via Megadeth. Though there are just similarities, but it's kind of coincidental. Some people favor Megadeth, but I've never been a huge fan of the band.
The originality on this album is so supreme and exasperating in quality, groove, intensity, variety, technicality and originality. Though I pointed out some similarities to other legend bands, Sodom just reigns supreme here and conquers, releasing their best album out of their entire discography. I'd conclude that it's better to purchase a newer CD because you get a bonus and it's not very expensive. We've explored the originality and amazing songwriting here, even though as a 3-piece, they still ripped your ears apart with their aggression and full obliteration of thrash metal imploded on this planet.
Those are my thoughts here, so in closing, I'd have to say that the scene in the higher 80's era seemed to be the best overall types of thrash metal invigorating albums that reign supreme with their intensity plus aggression galore. No song on this album is bad or uninteresting. All tracks deserve mention because they're all in intensity mixed with laying back grooves, but all in all, are aggressive as hell. This album is up there with Sepultura's "Beneath the Remains", Kreator's "Coma of Souls", Destruction's "Release From Agony", et al. If this is missing in your collection, evaluate and simply invest in it because it's much worth getting and deafening to the ears.
Here they are, one of the masters of The German Thrash Triangle: SODOM! "Agent Orange" is oft considered to be the band's finest achievement, a powerhouse in hyper-aggressive riffing, bloodthirsty vocals and monstrous solos. And for all intents and purposes, I agree.
Armed with big production values and big-budget artwork, this lineup attacks all-out practically with demonic perfection. The one and only Tom Angelripper rips it on vocals and bass. Fuck this guy sounds mean, his voice a hoarse, raspy growl that poseurs just aren't ready for. His bass rules too; it's fairly loud in the mix and has that classic, crunchy teutonic sound that makes us all shit our knickers. Frank Blackfire (who also played with fellow German thrash giants Kreator) is a masterful, underrated guitarist; his playing is just dead on, with the focus on perfectly aggressive speed-shredding so dead-on that one wonders how the guy's guitar never caught on fire. The late great Chris Witchhunter is also a speed monster on his drum kit; not terribly technical, but who cares when you can pound it out as fast and precise as this guy!
From beginning to end, "Agent Orange" is one of the coolest thrash attacks you'll ever get head-fucked by. We start off with the immense title track, with the band's classic spitfire playing in full effect. The chorus is simple but awesome ("The fire that doesn't burn!!!"), and the boys let loose with one of the band's strongest assets: The Sodom Solo. Prepare for some of the most kickass solos you'll ever get crunched by right here! It gets even better with the album's strongest track, "Tired And Red". We're treated to aggression similar to the title track, and another cool chorus. But this song's solo. Oh boy! Ladies and gentleman, I give you the best thrash metal solo EVER! We start off with a short acoustic part, which then slowly fades and then slams into the brutally mid-paced solo, armed with a simple but absolutely prime riff to accompany it. This album is worth snatching up just for this sucker alone! Things go up and down in quality with the rest of the songs. "Incest", is probably the most vicious song on here, but it gets stomped out quick like a small firecracker. At least it comes armed with another killer solo. "Remember The Fallen" is a ballad done right, but at the end of the day still a ballad. The song has a good sound to it and certainly doesn't deem skipping. "Magic Dragon" is another plus-sized thrash monster akin to the title track, though I think they could have done better with the solo at this point. The ferocious fight song "Exhibition Bout" is pretty catchy and that spitfire aggression comes into full effect again, with yet another wicked mid-paced solo tagged on. "Ausgebombt", a personal favorite, is probably the least thrashy song on here (it's basically a Motorhead-type speed metal song), but it's still quite a fun listen and is damn catchy. We end with the decent "Baptism of Fire", with more killer riffage, aggression, and mid-paced crushing all in one place. Oops, a near track-by-track review. Sorry folks, I guess.
Overall, this is one of the best thrash metal albums you could ever hope to get your mortal hands on. Just about every track is perfect in its own way, and the wild aggression and number of unforgettable solos will leave you speechless and ear-raped. Highly fucking recommended!
Coming off the strongest studio material of their career, namely the Expurse of Sodomy EP and Persecution Mania full-length, the doors of the world were being blown open for Tom and his troops. Agent Orange, the last album to feature what I consider the band's classic, ultimate combo of Angelripper, Witchhunter and Frank Blackfire, would not disappoint, though like its predecessor, it suffers from at least one needless diversion which threatens its consistency: that's yet another attempt at a German-titled punk thrash track that is ultimately forgettable against the onslaught of finely crafted riffing that marks the band's straight, metallic artillery. Nonetheless, a lot of eyes and ears were focused on Sodom at this point, and 1989 is where they affirmed their position among the thrashing hierarchy.
It helps to have the immortal lead-in track, and like Persecution Mania's "Nuclear Winter", the title track "Agent Orange" serves this purpose with ample, lethal pageantry. It opens with a stock, quality mid-paced thrash rhythm similar to what one might expect out of a US band like S.O.D., but then takes a swerve into a deeper, melodic mini-bridge before the blitz of the verse. Again, we're treated to the predictable chorus with the great, death metal-like riffs brazenly propelling it into distinction, and it's one of the best songs here. "Tired and Red" is close behind, though, a labyrinth of tight riffs with a great acoustic breakdown and leads during the extended bridge. "Incest" cranks up the velocity, and while it's not one of their better songs, there are at least 2 riffs worth shaking your fists at, and it should please fans of "Nuclear Winter"; but a real surprise is found in "Remember the Fallen", a slower paced, thrash/heavy metal song in which Tom adds a subtext of melody to his vocals which is actually quite good.
Once again, the theater of war is explored through "Magic Dragon", which is for the most part another slower paced song until the fast, thrash/death metal breaks arrive in the chorus which are safely filed under the "Nuclear Winter/Agent Orange" category; this characteristic is also the very definition of "Exhibition Bout", but there's a nice thrash break at 1:20 sure to get the heads all banging. "Ausgebombt" follows, and as I mentioned on my review of the EP with the same title, it's similar to "Bombenhagel" from the prior album, a punk/metal track with lots of gang shouts, loud and distorted Lemmy-like bass lines and not much else to it. I can say that I do enjoy the lead there, it cuts straight through the simplicity of the song's structure, and the production of the track is superb, but it's just not that interesting. Perhaps a fraction better than "Bombenhagel", but I'm all too satisfied when the warlike thrashing of "Baptism of Fire" arrives to rescue any further decline.
Agent Orange might well be the best produced album of the first few decades of Sodom, with that sturdy, clinical Harris Johns mix that distinguished many of his great European efforts. The bass and guitars are extremely well balanced; you can always make out the plodding power of the former against the ballistic, ripping weight of the latter. Tom contributes one of his best vocal performances, and despite its serious lyrical bent, the entire album seems perfect for pubbing, or perhaps grabbing a few tankards while you play war games with acquaintances. I'll always favor Persecution Mania for its grimier ethics and vicious appeal, but Agent Orange does belong to the band's most notable body of work alongside that and the great 1990 effort Better Off Dead.
The year was 1989, and thrash metal was at it's peak, a lot of killer thrash albums came out that year, and this was one of them, in 1987, we saw Sodom go from pretty much a black/thrash band with 'Obsessed by Cruelty' to a technical thrash band with the follow up 'Persecution Mania' and this album takes Persecution Mania a step further, developing a more straight forward thrash metal sound, some could even say death/thrash if you want to be technical, but whatever genre you want to throw it in, whatever, what matters is, that this album smokes.
We start this monster thrash album with the title track which is none other than 'Agent Orange' which opens up with an excellent catchy mid-tempo riff, and boy, if you think that is impressive, wait until this song gets going and speeds up to about a 120 MPH, and the riffs are tight and precise, Angelripper comes in and sounds like someone who's smoked 4 packs of cigarettes a day, and then we get to the break, which goes back to the mid-paced style, which is fucking awesome and will be stuck in your head, follow that with a shredding solo, yes, this album starts quite awesome, and the next track 'Tired and Red' shows no signs of letting up, starting right off with those fast thrashy as hell riffs, quite a death/thrash sound on this album, awesome chorus, and man, the middle break just owns you, it will make you want to stage dive out your window or something to that effect, it starts with a beautiful classical guitar moment, and then, bang, that mid-paced catchy as ALL hell riff comes in and just dominates, trust me, you will know when this moment comes, throw another excellent solo underneath all that, we have another kick ass song here.
'Incest' is more of the same from this album, and while it is quite good, there's really nothing much to say about it, so I will skip down to 'Remember the Fallen' now this takes the album in a different direction, while the first 3 songs are brutal death/thrash, this song here, is pure melodic thrash, with excellent leads and hooks all the way throughout, another thing different here than on the rest of the album is Angelripper's vocals, he uses clean vocals on this track, and you know what? IT WORKS, this song is catchy and interesting, nice variety guys, 'Magic Dragon' comes next and smokes us with getting back to the aggressive side of the album opening up with the sound of airplanes flying overhead, and then a riff comes in that just beckons headbanging, this song is mostly mid-paced, but again, Sodom throw change ups at you, and speed it up throughout, it moves nicely back and forth between tempos, and another solo that is jaw dropping, another excellent song here folks, 'Exhibition Bout' comes next and keeps things thrashing, moving at a nice fast past, really catchy verses and chorus here, not much else to say about it, just another day, another great Sodom song.
I'm going to skip down to the closer of the album which is 'Baptism of Fire' which closes the album off in a total thrashing manner, opening with catchy drum fills before moving into a fast as fuck thrasher, with more excellent riffs about, and boy do I love the chorus here as well, especially those riot vocals, VERY interesting and catchy, you will be singing this for days in your head, heck, you might as well throw in another killer solo, because it is, Sodom really made a mark with this album, showing that they could thrash with the best of them on most of the tracks, but also showing that could be a bit different too with tracks such as Remember the Fallen and Ausgebombt, so really, there is something here for every fan, final words, excellent album that would propel Sodom to make more great albums after this, and they did, so listen to this, this will put you in the war!
These guys certainly know how to make a thrash metal album, There are a plethora of great thrash riffs and breakdowns, A bit of variety, Even some melody and a cover of a song by a NWOBHM band. A solid thrash album. I am not a big fan of most german thrash metal bands, but Destruction and Sodom certainly have something the other germans don't, and That is a bit of variety. Persecusion Mania comes close but this takes the cake for being the best Sodom album, There simply is more substance to this than their other albums. This is as good as a teutonic thrash metal album can get.
The title track is a great thrash Metal track, Featuring some generic but still extremely solid riffs, A great change of pace in the middle, again nothing special, same formula used by many other bands, A solo accompanied by some really good drumming, Tom Angelripper's Vocals are a strong point, His accent is cheesy german english but you can make out his lyrics very well and he does deliver impact without just sounding funny. The tracks "Tired and red" and "Incest" have the same thing going for them, very good songs. "Remember the fallen" has much more focus on the lyrics, The guitarwork is slower, Angelripper's vocals are very catchy and atmospheric as he sings "Remember the Fallen", The album certainly follows a theme from start to end, The lyrics deal with military and horrors of war etc. The "Ausgebombt" track is a different kind of beast, More hardcore, but you can certainly hear some motorhead influences here, The Vocals are excellent and the track features a great solo towards the end. "Don't walk away" is a great cover of a song by one of my favorite bands, Tank, The cover stays loyal to the original and also adds a few sodom influences, Angelripper's germanish english vocals don't ruin the song, they make it even better. Drumming is extremely consistent right throught the album. The guitar play is dark but not as Dull as some of the other bands.
Agent orange is a solid Thrash metal album, It's far from perfect but it does not have many flaws, If you want to get into German thrash, I recommend this album along with Destruction's "Cracked brain", These are certainly two albums which helped me get into Teutonic thrash. Agent orange is a worthy piece in my collection.
…The hail of bullets, the screaming napalm that engulfs the jungle in angry flame and the vehement thrashing grind, the boys are at war. “Tom, why are we in Vietnam? We’re fucking Germans!” exclaimed a confused Blackfire. “I don’t know man, Germany hasn’t fought in a war since, well… you know” Tom replied. And with that they continued an onslaught of shredding thrash amongst the shredded brains dripping out of the helmets of the dead (do not do anything with that phrase, leave it be!). Witchhunter – rather understandably – panicked and his drumming was excitable, tense and wonderfully unpredictable as if he was taking swigs of beer between beats and I wouldn’t put that beyond him. The riffs moved out in their scope giving a more panoramic view of the war, near melodic tendencies were present amongst the sound of helicopters blades, but the state-of-the-art red hot Marshall tone still had ample room to destroy anything in its path. In the heart of battle Angelripper – ever the caring soul – still found time to muse upon the wretched innocents left mutilated and scarred by the chemical agent called… ‘Agent Orange’! Stillbirth rose and mothers were left cradling sticky, putrid afterbirth that bore some resemblance to the meatball sauce from Subway and Tom documented it all in its steamy, tomatoed glory. Amongst the confusion Blackfire thought he was a helicopter and as such his guitar solo sounded like one spiralling out of control. One could have put this down to the sort of expressionism that guitarists are prone to, but no, this was a clear product of shell shock and poor Frank was soon to be institutionalised in the good hospital Kreator.
The second push: the boys – though still confused by their reasons for being in a conflict that was supposedly over fifteen years ago and didn’t actually involve their country – when forth at a frantic pace, Witchhunter blasted his way through the jungle and the riffs took on a quasi-NWOBHM feel… but what has this? A clearing and there was not a sound but the minstrelsy of acoustic guitars that Tom thankfully didn’t snarl over. But it was clear that they must press on and the soundtrack to the first and only German thrash metal expedition into Indochina took on a mid era Metallica vibe in both rhythm and lead guitar that was the highpoint of a perfectly developed thrash song. But the boys were weary, homesick and all things considered ‘Tired and Red’…
“I’m sick of this fucking war, you can’t get a decent beer anywhere! Need I tell the Budweiser/Canoe joke again, lads?” Witchhunter proclaimed.
“Fine, sod it. Let’s go home” Said Tom heaving up his backpack.
And with that our valiant and actually pacifist soldiers fucked off home, leaving the soldiering to the soldiers not our dearly beloved long hairs. Given that the male population was still at the front (barring the pre-pubescent and coffin dodging) the fruits of womankind were at the whim of the band’s lusts, hell, even Witchhunter was considered hunky for a time! But Tom’s most ardent desire lived up to the band’s perverse namesake… he dreamed a sordid fantasy with his sister, Katie. Grasping her small hand he whispered inhaling deep, breathy breaths “I’ve written a song about you”. “Oh, that’s nice Tom. How is Frank? You know we saw each other briefly last year,” she announced feeling a tad uneasy about her brother’s wandering eyes and tight grasp. “Enough! Frank’s got a girlfriend anyway!” Angelripper interrupted, “But as I was saying, I’ve written a song for you, it’s called ‘Incest’”… and with this Katie Angelripper promptly left and family Sunday dinners henceforth took on a uneasy feeling. Feeling an absence of shame like only a German or possibly a Dutchman could have, Tom was left somewhat bemused. “Was it something I said?” he pondered to himself.
But he knew he had bigger problems to deal with, and though his mind would wander to thoughts of Katie’s voluptuous figure, he set about penning the anti-battle hymn that became ‘Remember the Fallen’. His comrades were still in the heart of hellish warfare and he had to do something! This something was the Sodom styled power ballad, ‘Remember the Fallen’, a fitting elegy to all the pointless and nameless dead of war. Its message was given clarity by the musical austerity of the song – a simple mid-tempo thrash refrain with some galloping changes to give tribute to those who are ‘brotherly in heart and hand’. With this fitting tribute finished, Tom congratulated himself with one more drink and a quick fumble through Katie’s knicker draw.
To get across just how anti-war they were Sodom wrote a nifty little number called ‘Ausgetbombt’ that takes a well-needed mood change and in contrast to the more complex thrash this is a straight-up Motörhead styled rocker. Still being pretty shell-shocked, Frank thought he was in a bomber and as such his solo sounded like the thunderous crash of a bomb or at least a cartoon pastiche of one. Ever in rallying, rousing form Tom gives us the best vocal delivery on a thrash record ever in the final verse. It’s rock ’n’ roll and predictably I like it, but then again the levels of alcohol and testosterone in my blood are probably higher than yours.
A triumph in both thrash metal and anti-war song craft.
(I thought I could do better and so I re-wrote it)
This is Sodom’s zenith, their magnum opus, and probably their most definitive album. And one man made that possible. Frank Blackfire. I am of the opinion that without Blackfire, Sodom would still be making primitive and noisy black/thrash and would have never ascended to the level of greatness. Just look at the sudden change that happened when Blackfire joined. Persecution Mania was the band’s first full length release with Blackfire on guitar and according to some sources, he was the man that persuaded Tom Angelripper to focus on political lyrics and better songwriting. Persecution Mania was a huge jump forward from Obsessed By Cruelty, but did Agent Orange make any more progress? The answer is… no. The only real difference between the two is that the songs are longer, they have a bit more variation and the track listing is also better.
As I said before, this album is ALMOST a carbon copy of Persecution Mania. Hell, even the production is the same. Sodom didn’t take a huge leap forward, but instead they solidified all the elements of Persecution Mania. If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.
One thing to note here is the American thrash influence. A great way to describe this album would be Persecution Mania + Master of Puppets + Some New York thrash. The core component is German thrash, but there are a lot of “foreign” influences here. Most of the songs go into a slightly long and slower section after the second chorus, which is a nod to Metallica’s Master of Puppets. However, unlike Metallica, Sodom manage to keep things interesting in these slower parts. How? The NY thrash metal “thrash break.” And these thrash breaks have some variety too, with my personal favorite being the one in Tired and Red thanks to the NWOBHM flair.
The track listing is excellent. After listening to the first three tracks, one might get a little tired. Just when he/she is about to eject the CD… BOOM! Remember The Fallen starts to play and grabs your attention. Magic Dragon appears to follow the same formula as Remember The Fallen but then suddenly goes into a faster section. In the first three songs, the transition was from fast to slow, but in Magic Dragon it’s the opposite. Five songs, all five are killers, but unfortunately the first filler comes in the form of Exhibition Bout. Nothing special here, so I suggest you just press the skip button. If you do, you will be rewarded with one of Sodom’s most well known songs, Ausgebombt. An awesome track; has a cool Motorhead vibe to it. I suggest you eject the CD after Ausgebombt because even though Baptism of Fire is a decent track, it isn’t anything solid.
Now for the individual performances. The only thing here that stands out is Frank Blackfire, his riffs are catchy and brutal but the most important part about Blackfire was his influence over the direction Sodom would take. He single handedly turned Sodom into legends, in my opinion, and played a part in Angelripper’s sudden change in lyrical themes. Witchhunter’s drumming is awkward at times, and it’s often very poorly timed. It’s still an improvement over Obsessed By Cruelty and Persecution Mania though. Angelripper’s bass is decent, but it’s his vocal performance that stands out. He has a serious, cynical and evil aura around him and it really adds to the overall rating of the album. Even is Ausgebombt, he manages to sound evil, a type of “evil” that only Angelripper knows how to deploy.
Overall, it’s a fucking sweet album. One of the best thrash releases ever. The only downsides here are the drumming and the two boring tracks. Other than that, the good far outweighs the bad. This is one of the few thrash metal albums that truly deserves the “essential” title. Recommended to fans of thrash metal and also people who want to explore the realm of thrash.
Agent Orange is the classic example of how much a band could improve the sound and achieve the goal of recording something that is perfectly between the malevolence of the first efforts and the skills taken during lots of years of music. As you know, at the beginning of the 80s a band like Sodom was important for the growing black/death metal scene and few believed in a such improvement in technique and songwriting. It’s the Sepultura case too if we want.
Anyway, from Persecution Mania, after several line up changes, Sodom found a new dimension that pointed mostly on the classic thrash metal with a hint of the past influences and with this album we have the continuation of that job in a magic period for this kind of music.
Starting from the production (very similar to Persecution Mania), we can hear the cleaner sound that, anyway, is always damn compact and powerful. What always captured my attention was the guitar/bass sound: it’s great and incredibly pounding. The start is something that belongs to the history of thrash metal with classics that bring the name of “Agent Orange” and “Tired And Red”. These are simply great and for sure, two of the best Sodom’s compositions ever.
The rhythms are suffocating and terrific. The start of the fast part of the title track is something to remember forever, as the orgiastic palm muting riff in the middle too. “Tired And Red” features a good arpeggio in the middle to break the intensity. The mid paced riffs are perfect, compact and the following “Incest” is damn fast with lots of stop and go. Tom’s vocals are always raspy, scratchy and evil as Sodom’s tradition command.
The lyrics, as most of you know, are always about the stupidity of war and the various damages it concerns. A good example of this is the classic, long, mid paced “Remember The Fallen”. The atmosphere here is dramatic but fortunately the speed increases with the following “Magic Dragon” that surprisingly features six minutes of music. The good, but not excellent “Exhibition Bout” is just a prelude to the great, punkish “ Ausgebombt”. This one is simply great! Wow, it’s made for pure mosh!
As in thrash metal tradition, the final song of the album must be violence and brutal and for this “Baptism By Fire” doesn’t let me down, thanks to galloping guitars parts and very good chorus during the refrain. This is where you can find Sodom at the top of their career. This is an album to remember and listen at least once in your life.
'Agent Orange' doesn't offers any critical progress since 1987, but who the fuck cares?? These who expected to 'Persecution Mania' sequel, knew what they talk about. This is another heavy and aggressive album which is somehow complex (yet not ultra complex such as Kreator or Sabbat for instance) and quite consistent. This is a filler-less album, you won't push the stop button even once until it overs.
Something quite outstanding here is the dominant variation within the dynamics of the song structures. There are enough tempo changes and alternate time signatures here and there which gives this album a different flowing than their first album for instance. It isn't an album which is constantly devastating your ears ('Reign In Blood' kinda), the flowing here isn't bland and you can separate each part of the songs differently. However, even though that each song varies quite well, this album still has a sameish feeling because the songs themselves doesn't sounds much distinctive from each other.
The opener/title track open with floaty power chords striking and then
switching time signature and becomes mid paced. Not much later it rises up the tempo to fucking 210BPM and slays! The vocals are filthy and untamed, spits each vocal line with rage and following flawleslly the devastating riffage. The chorus is evil as hell and the riff sounds almost like pure black metal! Very intense opener, and the best of this album of course.
'Tired and Red' has a very chaotic intro and also nice clean interlude somewhere in the middle. The riffing is kind of generic but it still well executed and makes you headbang till blood. 'Remember The Fallen' is quite effective one, sounds like half rockish ballad and half like Sodom's ordinary thrashing, quite catchy riffing and chorus. Oh, there is also pretty nice leading guitar here and again some time signature changes. This is maybe the catchiest on this album. There is also a bonus cover track 'Don't Walk Away' which is pure speed metal and has quite good catchiness and a bit less aggressive vox. Other then that, all the tracks here are essential and nothing's wrong with them.
Overall, this is not a masterpiece nor a piece of crap as some people tend to say. This is another awesome album from 'Sodom' but it isn't their best one. 'Agent Orange' is a quality piece of thrash and very decent follower to 'Persecution Mania '. Worthy album.
There wasn’t much progress except for the production and less raw vocals but god damn some of these songs were once again superb. Opening track ‘Agent Orange’ has become a real Sodom anthem. It is heavy, it is dynamic, it is fast and it is catchy. This my friends is a truly great thrash metal song.
Another reward must go to ‘Magic Dragon’ which appears to be a decent mid tempo pounder until it speeds up and reveals itself as a brilliant composition. ‘Remember The Fallen’ has never been my favourite (nor has any slow Sodom song) but it does have a positive effect on the album. A slow tune like this makes the other songs seem even faster and it is one of their best slow songs ever.
And you can’t go wrong with thrashers like ‘Incest’ and ‘Exhibition Bout’. Of course there is a Bombenhagel part 2, called ‘Ausgebombt’ (*). Just as entertaining really (and so would be ‘Stalinorgel’ as well a year later)
There’s nothing wrong with Agent Orange except for one thing: it’s not Persecution Mania.
(* anyone recall the media fairytale that Augbebombt was originally titles 'Türken Raus' ?)
This is not just one of my favourite Thrash Metal albums but one of the finest ever produced by this Genre. At the pinnacle of it's life, Sodom unleashed this masterpiece that would raise the bar for German and other Thrash Metal alike. I won't call this album revolutionary because it is, after all, based on a lot of Sodom's previous work as well as other influences of Sodom.
The albums starts off with perhaps two of the strongest tracks - Agent Orange and Remember the Fallen. Agent Orange starts off with a Thrashy guitar intro followed by some fast riffing and my God, what a solo. Remember the Fallen, on the other hand, makes use of clean vocals with a slightly paced rhythm but this track's killer nonetheless. The following tracks could have easily been over-shadowed by the openers but guess what? They're all about just as good.
Tracks such as Incest, Magic Dragon and Tired and Red are fast, unique and very catchy. The solos throughout this album are also very catchy, especially the first solo on Magic Dragon - they don't get any faster than that.
The drumming is 'controlled' but the rhythm is complex. The German-accent Blackish vocals just make this absolotely teriffic. A lot of metalheads I know love this album and there's no way that this is either mediocre or boring and if you think that 'Sodom has fallen victim ...", you need to quit listening to Thrash because this is Thrash in it's finest hour!
Sodom was a pretty SOLID thrash band back in the 80s. As other reviewers have pointed out, although they weren't as technical or as complex as other German bands like Destruction and Kreator, they had a knack for just going in for the jugulor and playing it straight, fast and gritty.
In the case of this album however, Agent Orange, I feel that it was a matter of slightly too little, slightly too late, because coming on the heels of such albums as So Far...So Good...So What? (I'll explain why in this case), Sacred Reich's Ignorance and and at the same time as Kreator's spectacular Extreme Aggression, the riffs simply fall short.
Here's why. Take the title track, Agent Orange. In and of itself it's a great track, but in context of the thrash music doing the rounds at the time you have a sense of 'wait, haven't I heard all this before?'. The track starts with a little fast bit that sounds recognizable (can't place it), and then goes into a slightly modified version of the main riff to Megadeth's In My Darkest Hour. After that it goes fast, but the riff is EXACTLY the same as Sacred Reich's Death Squad (which came in 1987, so things aren't looking good).
Throughout the entire album I had a sense of deju vu, just thinking...where have I heard that riff before, and that riff!? So I feel that although Agent Orange is a good album it shoots itself in the foot via an extreme lack of originality.
My favourite German thrash band is without a shadow of a doubt Kreator. If you listen to Extreme Aggression you'll find the kinds of riffs that no one before and no one after played or aped, unlike with Agent Orange, which the whole way through feels like an exercise in thrash cliches.
But it's not all bad besides these aspects. I'm not into the title track so much but I feel it improves after. 'Tired And Red' sounds relatively original and is thrashtastic. 'Incest' is somewhat unassuming but enjoyable. 'Remember The Fallen' benefits a little from an alternative vocal style, though it is a little boring. 'Ausgebombt' is cool and feels a little punky.
Overall it is worth seeking out, and worth listening to...but don't expect something you haven't heard if you're a discerning thrash listening. I'd recommend Kreator over this band any day though. Now those guys are fucking grand.
In terms of musical style Agent Orange is a more mature form of the previous album Persecution Mania. This is definitely the album that helped Sodom get recognised by a much wider audience worldwide. It showed its effects boosting the sales of the bands next effort ‘Better Off Dead’.
If you want to beter understand how great this album is, you should considet tihe time it was released. Slayer had put out the legendary South of Heaven just less than a year ago, Sepultura had made a great impact on metal with Beneath The Remains, Kreator had released their most successfull album Extreme Aggression and Running Wild was sailing with strong winds in the charts with Death or Glory… Despite the strong competition, Agent Orange is remembered by many as the best album released in 1989.
The album gives you what Sodom does best, which is playing hyper-speed brutal thrash metal, and also some hints about the future directions of the band.
Tracks like Agent Orange, Incest and Magic Dragon are classical Sodom style brutal thrash songs; all played very well. Remember The Fallen is the start of the ‘slow but powerful song’ tradition we see in all Sodom albums. Tom Angelripper explains the bansd’ need to write songs like these by commenting that ‘the slower the song is, the more powerful it gets’. Another hint we get from the album about the band’s future comes from the song Ausgebomt. Starting with this album Sodom included one punk-hardcore type track in almost every release.
Through the years I have met many people who did not like or even hated Sodom. However, not even a single one of them denied the perfection of Agent Orange. Even most of the people who hates Sodom has this album in their collections. This is the album that made Metal Hammer magazine begin valling the band ‘Gods of Thrash'. The reason I did not give 100 points is because I see Baptism of Fire as a weak link.
So why did you start listening to heavy metal? The rebellion factor? Iron Maiden's cool covers? Hearing Black Sabbath from someone older? Seeing Bros on telly in the late 1980s and thinking "This is awful"?
For me, it was the sheer childish pleasure of head banging, playing air guitar, and pretending to be Steve Harris. Metal looked and sounded like fun, so I tried it, and more than 15 years later, I'm still hooked. During that time, Sodom has given me a lot of pleasure (don't take that the wrong way!) and has caused me many a whiplashed neck from frenzied headbanging. Agent Orange is an album to slip on when no one is around, put away all breakable things in the room, pick up a tennis racket, and just let rip!
Sodom were never a band to let technicality to get in the way of a good song. Equal parts Venom and Motorhead, this is thrash metal at it's most basic, and most effective. Like those two legendary noisy three piece bands, the trio of musicians in Sodom may not be the best in their field, but working on Motorhead's "Sod it, it's only rock and roll" theory, produced some of the most ungodly thrash noise ever to make it to record. At one time, Sodom were one of the most extreme bands in the world, even being labelled "death metal" back in the mid 1980s!
It's hard to believe Sodom had slowed down for this album. Listen to songs like "Ausgebombt" booming out of your stereo and you'll hear a simple repetitive bass line, fairly basic piledriver drumming, catchy riffs, and Tom Angelripper's Teutonic shout over it all. It's not particularly tight in places, almost verging on falling apart during a few of the solos, but fuss is kept to a minimum. There are even punk rock shout-along choruses here. There's the odd solo thrown in, but you'll not find a self-indulgent fiddle-fest. Bands today who don't use solos should take note- you don't have to be Yngwie Malmsteen to play a good solo.
The title track, "Remember The Fallen" and Ausgebombt" are the pick of the bunch here, although that said, there are really no dud tracks on this album. When this was released in 1989, Sodom were moving away from the anti-Christian sentiments of earlier releases, having found a deeper vein of inspiration in railing against the stupidity of war. One track which is just a little disturbing however, is "Incest". Apparently Angelripper fancied his own sister...
"Agent Orange" has all the ingredients a good thrash album needs. Days later, the pounding songs will still be echoing in your subconscious, and you will be flicking Devil horns at everyone you meet. Remember the fallen!
This is a GREAT piece of thrash! The themes are strangely pacifist for such an aggressive style, but these – the lyrics and the artwork – are both done really effectively to complement the music. Clips of helicopter and aeroplane sound effects adds to this.
My favourite track is over and done with at the start – the title track. All of the first 6 tracks are pretty much equally great though. If you’re after a treasure chest of variety, perhaps look elsewhere, because admittedly a lot of these tracks are very similar at least in essence. There are several respites to the general style, like the more sing along Don’t Walk Away (a cover anyway, so not the best example) or the basically punk/hardcore Ausgebombt, which is a nice enough song for what it is, but pretty out of place in my opinion. Typically though, this is the song that got into the German charts, and not one of the more ripping tracks more representative of the album!
By lack of variety, I mean that virtually all tracks feature the token speedy drum blasting, even more speedy guitars, and usually a chugging thrash break. But who cares, these are what make the album so damn good! The sheer energy and aggression in the majority of the tracks is stunning, all powered along by the relentless drum work of Witchhunter and frantic guitaring of Blackfire. The vocals are harsh an
The sheer catchiness of this opus adds to this energy to boost its impact even more. Tracks like Remember The Fallen, but pretty much every track, are catchy while losing none of the downright thrash mania running throughout. Often you know the thrash breaks are coming, but headbanging is just irresistible, as they really know how to fuse the non-stop furiosity of the verses with completely perfect chugging interludes! Great stuff.
This is actually the only Sodom album I have at the moment, and I understand it’s one of their best. I can fully understand why as well, and one of the best thrash albums around I think.
THRASH TILL DEATH!
Sodom has always been the most straightforward of the Holy Trinity of German Thrash; while Destruction shredded their foes with lethal speed and wailing melody, and Kreator, by their third album, worked themself up to a method of intricate, technical disembowelment, Sodom thundered ahead with straightforward, neckbreaking brutality and heavy-handed force. Agent Orange is one of their most technically-minded releases, but is still fairly simplistic compared to albums like Coma of Souls and Release From Agony.
One could say that Agent Orange isn't so much nine individual songs as a solid chunk of thrash metal divided up into nine sections; this is both a strength and a weakness of the album, as a couple songs–"Incest" and "Exhibition Bout"–are kind of unremarkable. Not bad, by any means, but merely sort of forgettable. You headbang, you move on. And apart from two, maybe three, tunes, there aren't any songs that are just out-and-out kickass and unique all the way through. Everything has at least one of those "generic German thrash riffs."
But this is not as much of a condemnation as it sounds, because tradeoff for this is the prevalence of moments of sheer headbanger glory. On this album are to be found some of the absolute best opportunities in history for a discerning thrasher to fuck up his or her neck beyond all repair. For instance, "Tired And Red" is a basic piece of superspeed metal with two moments of major distinction. The first is at the 1:56 mark when the song cuts off abruptly and goes into a melodic interlude vaguely reminiscent of "Children of the Sea." It's hard to tell whether this is a good thing or not, as it's a beautiful section, but totally rapes the flow of the song in a disjointed, disturbingly Opeth-y way. But all is forgiven at 2:40 when Sodom blasts into a classic mid-tempo thrash riff straight out of "Welcome Home (Sanitarium." Simplistic, but utterly brutalizing at the same time, and thus perfect for headbanging.
The title track and "Magic Dragon" are both around six minutes, and both go through a varied selection of tempo changes. "Agent Orange," in addition to a badfuckingass chorus ("THE FIRE THAT DOESN'T BURN!") has one particular moment that really demonstrates the genius of this band–at about 3:30, they go into a driving thrash metal riff break that continues for about sixteen bars. Then at 3:55, they're still playing the same riff, but the drums switch beats to a frenzy of double-kick with the snare drum on the 1 and 3 beats, instead of 2 and 4. This minor percussive modification completely changes the sound and mood, and shows how great this band really is at working with limited resources. And it's not a question of whether that section there is headbang-worthy, but whether YOU are worthy of headbanging to IT. As for that other tune I mentioned back at the start of this paragraph, the first two minutes of "Magic Dragon" are a great example of how simple guitar work can do great things for atmosphere. Slow buildup..."the calm before the storm" indeed. And then of course the riffage rules, and the tempo change at 4:30 has an überwicked gallop designed for maximum neck abuse.
"Ausgebombt" is one of the "different" tracks on this album; as has been said, it really does sound like Motörhead. But we all know that that's a good thing. The only difference is that, unlike Lemmy, Tom Angelripper sings in the GERMAN ACCENT OF FEAR, and God bless him for it. Fun, bass-driven thrash rock with an awesome gang vocal chorus. "Don't Walk Away," the closer, is a throwaway cover tune that shows that even the most fatalistic, battle-scarred of German thrashers still have a sense of humor and an appreciation for the fine art of goofy hard rock.
Then there's the two real highlights of this album. "Remember the Fallen," a tribute to all those who have "died in a senseless war," is a solid mid-tempo thrash anthem with a neat little guitar wail thrown into the riff and some truly awesome harsh vocals from Mr. Angelripper. The best part of this song is at about 2:10 where the thrashing comes to a stop in a long extended notes...fades...and then the drums pick back up and we thunder back into the steady march of the bullet-ridden dead. The other piece of pure kickassitude is "Baptism of Fire," which tears along at a nice pace with some sweet drumwork, seeming like another solid piece of thrash–until we get to the chorus. Oh my God, the chorus.
You know those moments where all the instruments fall into harmony on one rhythm and riff and just create the perfect conditions for headbanging? This is one of those–your spine jerks, your hair flies (and your hair BETTER be long enough to fly, motherfucker), your cranium bobs up and down like a bobblehead doll on methampetamines, and everything around you disappears into a trance of music-induced self-abuse. PTOMAINE! CREMATION! BAPTISM OF FIRE FUCKS YOU IN THE SPINE! This chorus is one of the top ten moments of thrash fucking metal, period, and is highly recommended for neck strength-building exercises.
So when all is said and done, Agent Orange is not exactly a masterpiece of thrash metal music, but it's certainly something you should buy for the combination of remarkably vicious gang vocals (did I mention those? They rock), solid riffage, and most of all, utter headbangability. If you find pleasure in the rapid vertical movement of your upper spine, neck and head, then this album is for you.
This is Sodom's best, at least of the ones I have heard (I am missing two or three from the 1990s). The great thing about this album, is that of the nine songs, six have a monster fucking jaw-dropping thrash break. Some of these are the most overt ever written. The first six songs are legendary, the last three merely okay. Overall, a very strong thrash album.
Starting off, Agent Orange... the fire that does not burn!!! Right from the get-go we have an efficient-pace headbanging monster of a riff, then some more before we start into the verses. We speed up, here's Tommy Angelripper with his lethal German accent. The chorus is a bit repetitive, but the riffs are fucking solid. Then, after one more verse... Thrash break!!! Sorta like the Chinese Fire Drill - everyone out of the car, go fucking crazy, and it's all different now, man thrash breaks are the stuff dreams are made of. Speed up, throw in a few more riffs, a sloppy but effective solo and then back to the verses. Man, what a song. Textbook thrash right here.
Next - Tired and Red. The main verse riff is total Sodom - pretty much of the type that they've had over the past God only knows how many albums. These guys know how to milk a somewhat limited riff set and do it well - again, what really makes this band interesting is the counterpoint riffage, and that's what makes this album so good, that those riffs are so frequent and prominent. Anyway, about 1.49 in, you think the song is fading out, then... little acoustic interlude. Opeth, take notes, this is good stuff!! Then at 2.38.
"You have been hit upside the head with a large riff-like entity. There are broken teeth on the floor. Passages lead to the north and to the east. What shall we do?"
STAY AND BANG!!!! Holy god eating a frozen vagina fuckstick while a thousand monkeys copulate in the background. And this riff goes on for about a minute and a fucking half, and never gets old. Now THAT's a riff, kids. One more verse and game over. What a fucking game.
Incest starts off average, goes through some fast verses, fast soloing, and then... you guessed it!! Jaw-breaking midpace riff!! Man, when I was a kid, we had good music, none of this Haunted bullshit you young ones think are thrash. I'll show ya what REAL thrash is. THIS IS REAL THRASH.
Remember the Fallen.... now this is how to do a ballad. It sounds just like the rest of their songs. Cheesy bands, take note - when you want to write a song for your dead homey, make it fast, make it loud. I don't think Sodom have ever written a ballad - just blazing fucking thrash monsters. This one moves along at efficient speed, it's like they start with the midpaced thrash riff. Sounds good to me. They speed up every once in a while too, another good one. Four for four on the winner scale so far.
Magic Dragon - this isn't about puff, it's about fucking war! KRIEG IST KRIEG!!! Yes, and Socrates ist Socrates, but I diverge. Another midpaced monster opener, then we seriously fucking speed up and the solo grows more and more incoherent... what's this at 4.29? Fast fucking thrash break! Three riffs in series assault your goddamn senses, leave you dead, ALL OPETH FANS MUST DIE!!!!
(I love writing incoherent reviews while slightly buzzed. Jagermeister und Sodom ist Krieg!!!! Hey, my German ist improving when I drinken. Schweet.)
Anyway... to the Exhibition Bout. Fast song. Kinda fast thrash break, but oh yeah you fucking notice the difference in the riff style. This album is so fucking brilliant in that sense of the word. Oh yes, das est Einstein.
Ausgebombt. Here is where the album kinda takes a mood change. This sounds like a Motorhead song, not a total thrash monster, but it is still one of my favourites on the album. "save us from the wintry cold!" It's catchy, it's fun, and I really like Motorhead, so fucken you.
Baptism of Fire - back to the thrashing heavy stuff. Solid midpaced opener, speed up, and then in the middle... what we have is a solo break. The riff under the solo does not annihilate me... but the fast riff after the solo definitely does!!! Good things come to those who wait. Not a textbook thrash break, but still this song exhibits the ten classic signs of ownage. (Signs 1 to 10: riffs.)
The last song is a Tank cover - remember Motorhead, this band sounds like them. This is classic speed metal and again decently executed. It's probably the weakest song on here, but that just gives relative praise to the rest of the album, which is a total Christ-fucking of the highest order.
Well, that brings us to the end, kids. Good bye. Hope you enjoyed the review. I'm gonna go get my neck surgery now.
'Agent Orange' was the album that raised Sodom to the knowledge of the metal public. The earlier releases were noted by many but 'Agent Orange' was their actual breakthrough album. Sodom took most of it's early influences from such bands as Hellhammer (not the drummer) and Venom and not from straight thrash acts like it's brethren, Kreator and Destruction. Their first release, 'In the Sign of Evil', is actually one of the earliest black metal releases. Sodom has always been my personal favorite because of the stripped down style they've had since the beginning. This is no nonsense, straightforward thrash metal.
'Agent Orange' features the best line-up Sodom ever had with Frank Blackfire (joined Kreator soon after the 'Ausgebombt' EP) in the guitar and the original Chris Witchhunter in the drums. The album mostly consists of tracks of straight in-your-face thrash metal but some of them fall into slower paces. For example the title track is pure straightforward thrash metal that'll get you moshing in no time but 'Remember the Fallen' is a slower and more atmospheric track, a tribute to all the people who have died in wars. Also 'Tired and Red' goes from a fast thrash part to a slow acoustic passage with melancholic guitarlines and then into a mid paced thrash part. When the thrash part goes on, the best part of 'Agent Orange' really strikes up. That is Frank Blackfire and his guitar. The solo in that part of 'Tired and Red' is unbelievably good and his solos in the other songs don't lose by much. Also Blackfire has composed much of 'Agent Orange' (if I'm not mistaken) and it shows. The riffs are better than in most other Sodom albums and the songs flow very well. There isn't much variation, but since when has Sodom needed any? The title song is six minutes of mostly the same riff and same drum rhythm at breakneck speed but doesn't get boring at all.
The album isn't all thrash though. Seventh track, 'Ausgebombt', is a hardcore track and it also formed the center of their most selling release, the 'Ausgebombt' EP. It also showed towards what sound Sodom would go in the future. Also 'Don't Walk Away' is a cover from a NWOBHM band Tank and doesn't sound anything like rest of the stuff. Those two songs break the flow of great thrash metal from the speakers. Besides that fact, there's nothing wrong with the CD.