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Fuck the so-called fab four, the teutonic thrashers are the metalheads that bring the truly unrestrained violence and hate to the table. I love Ride the Lightning, and yeah I want me some Peace Sells to go with my Reign In Blood, but no, I don’t need any Anthrax ‘cause I fuckin hate Anthrax and couldn’t care less about them. Sodom, Kreator, and Destruction just seemed to have more of a visceral urgency in their metal than did the Americans. Slayer is undoubtedly the evilest of the aforementioned yanks, but it was Sodom and Kreator (and of course Switzerland’s Hellhammer) who were largely the musical inspiration of the infamous murderers and church burners who comprised black metal’s Norwegian movement of the early 90s. Hell, Euronymous borrowed a song title from Sodom to name his Deathlike Silence label, and young Varg Vikernes even found himself wearing a Pleasure to Kill hoodie after removing the clothes soaked in the blood of his murder victim…
Better Off Dead is pure thrash warfare beginning with the d-beat debauchery of “Eye For An Eye.” The production of Witchhunter’s drums is immaculate and complete with pummeling double bass and rich, warm sounds from the rack toms. I really enjoy Angelripper’s lyrical taunting of god which gets this album off to an evil start. “Why are the innocent dead? Come on god, answer me.”
“Shellfire Defense” is a ripping, high-velocity ass kicker that leads us into the awesome “The Saw is the Law.” This song is better and more terrorizing than all of the Saw movies combined, and the double bass is saved for the end of this crusher, which makes it all the more powerful. “Capture the Flag” is nice and heavy with its tribally drum opening and speedy triplet groove during the verse, which proceeds to kick into sixth gear as Sodom haul ass to the end of the tune. Then we are treated to a cover of Thin Lizzy’s “Stone Cold Summer.” It’s cool to hear a Lizzy tune sung with Tom’s German accent, and Sodom definitely beefs up the original version, making it quite headbang-able.
The title track is one of the heaviest songs on the album as it proficiently uses varying tempos and time-signatures, and the lyrics are just plain brutal, certainly a highlight here. I can honestly say that the production of this album is clearer and more dynamic than the two classics preceding it, and Sodom seems to be taking a more straight-forward metal approach on Better Off Dead which very much works to their advantage. This is no-frills thrash, as in no acoustic guitar, no keys, just balls to the wall performances from each musician here; a confident Sodom playing their black hearts out. The cover art offers some dark, ancient tomb-like imagery as opposed to the iconic covers of Persecution Mania and Agent Orange. It would also appear that the logo they used on Better Off Dead was blatantly ripped off by vile poseurs Static-X, not that those dildos have any relevance, but I mean, come on.
This fourth full-length from the mighty Sodom is a must for any fan of thrash metal, especially if you’re looking for a road less traveled by in these terrible teutons. Though Better Off Dead has not been as heralded as their earlier works, it will still kick your ass, as it is undoubtedly one of 1990’s premier thrashterpieces.
It may be best known for its unforgettable track "The Saw is the Law", but the more I've spun Better Off Dead, the more I've realized the album is the perfect crossroads between Sodom's raw and thrashing beginnings to their more rock and punk influenced, later albums (though the band has since reverted to its thrash roots).
Better Off Dead has an excellent Harris Johns production, so if you turn this up you will be pleased by the results on almost any stereo system. The songs alternate their pacing quite well; it's a good balance between a savage German thrash precision and a hard rock/NWOBHM feel, the latter of which is anchored by the covers of Thin Lizzy's "Cold Sweat" and Tank's "Turn Your Head Around".
The album goes for the throat immediately with a trio of power house anthems. "An Eye for an Eye" sounds like Accept's "Fast as a Shark" on crack. Tom Angelrippers accented and charismatic vocals are all over this album like whores to a Benjamin Franklin. "Shellfire Defense" is pure thrashing war metal in the vein of their classic tracks like "Nuclear Winter" or "Agent Orange". A very catchy chorus. Even this could not prepare one for the slower paced rock'n'roll meets thrash savvy of "The Saw is the Law"!
After this it's all continuous, methodical awesome. The cover of "Turn Your Head Around" rips forth, and Angelripper's vocals rule. Tank receives some justice. "Capture the Flag" is yet another slaying Sodomite wargame. "Cold Sweat" is more of a recognizable cover tune, but still performed quite well. "Bloodtrails" is one of the best thrashers on the album, with a furiously fast paced verse riff kicking all manner of ass. "Never Healing Wound" is a fuel injected rocker, while the title track is another filthy excursion into rapid destruction. "Resurrection" is another of the slower paced tunes, but it has some excellent riffs, and I was taken by surprise when the great vocal harmonies came in at the end. "Tarred and Feathered" spits further thrash venom, and the album closes with the punky "Stalinorgel".
This is a great album, rock solid. As I mentioned, it's mixed by Harris Johns who is pretty much the best record producer of the 80s, responsible for Walls of Jericho, Deception Ignored, Consuming Impulse, Dimension Hatross, and so many other classics. Whether you are a fan of their beer fueled punkish albums or their old school violent thrashing, this is an essential album. My reaction at first was mixed, but it's since grown on me to become one of my favorite Sodom albums, and may continue to do so.
"For many years, I am asking you why, Why are the innocent dead and the guilty alive?"
Better Off Dead, what a misunderstood album. Seriously, besides 'Till Death Do Us Unite it is Sodom's less known album. Though I really liked Sodom's punkish period, Get What You Deserve and Masquerade In Blood get a lot more talk than Better Off Dead only for the reason that they strayed from pure thrash and marked a "low point" in their career. You often hear things like: "They got more commercial" or "Not enough fast" about the album. There is rarely talk about how good this album is, otherwise only that it is criminally underrated. Well it wasn't released in the best of the years for them; they released it little more than a year after their still feverishly hailed classic Agent Orange when thrash metal was going downhill but besides some good or classic albums like the acclaimed Coma of Souls and Rust in Peace, it wasn't so bad a year for thrash. Sodom's album was probably overshadowed by the aforementioned albums and by their own Tapping The Vein which probably surprised everyone as it was still thrash to the core and brutal as ever even in thrash's lacklustre '92. The fact that Frank Blackfire caught the whole scene by surprise by quitting Sodom to join Kreator and being replaced by the short-lived - in the band if you didn’t know - Michael Hoffman didn't help either. He unfortunately - or fortunately? - quit shortly after the recording to live in Brazil and ironically became the same fate of Blackfire a couple of years after.
So Better Off Dead is a logical continuity of Persecution Mania and Agent Orange; yes it's more and more accessible but at the same time more mature and... logical, less impulsive, more controlled. While Agent Orange was fundamentally the same than Persecution Mania, the mood, the sound was much different. The former was more oppressive, darker, grittier, the later more... war. The drumming was galloping as ever, as soldiers running their adrenaline pumped up pursued by death in every corner, the riffs fast and sharp as 'copter blades, Tom like a German soldier not knowing what he was doing in Vietnam with some American marines, you could sense the danger in every riff change; if Persecution Mania was more about the backstage of war or religion, Agent Orange was at the forefront. Here, not only the mood and approach is different, the whole songwriting is and with yet another take at war with some other elements. The sound's mood is hard to pinpoint, combined with the lyrics, I'd say it's more an "objective" take at war, with "An Eye For An Eye" about religion and "The Saw Is The Law" and "Better Off Dead" about the no-nonsense of violence and society - a more explored theme on later releases mainly in their punkish period. It's a step back from all the action while not necessarily going in as dark areas as their sophomore. With everything slowed down and less impulsive, objectivity is a fitting description. What was previously stated is a good description of the sound, but while pretty obvious, it is better produced though since everything is slowed down and is far from the neck breaking, fast and impulsive thrash riffs or drumming, everything is more calculated and made in a way that it is memorable. While neck breaking worthy riffs may be memorable and have that "wow" feel, well, indeed it may only allow more punches to be thrown. While a quick punch gets anyone back to their senses, a couple of uppercuts could either seem like slaps - well since it's a slow attack, you can easily miss the middle of the target depending of his awareness of the situation - or a real beating. Here it definitely falls in the latter category. There is also a good share of faster punches keeping the enemy from being able to predict your moves. It's a calculated craft of powerful, catchy riffs accompanied by the usual catchy lyrics that could only be written and expertly sung by none other than our dear Onkel Tom.
As with their two preceding albums, while being slightly different, Tom's vocals are still those Lemmy-being-a-vicious-German-trying-to-be-English ones, well being a lot less vicious here and less rocking than The Man himself. The rhythm section is not to be underestimated in this already underestimated release. Whitchhunter does some really inventive drumming with the usual great cymbal hits, there are also the moments of "soldiers running" but here it seems they know where they're heading. Angelripper's bass is less present - and audible - though still good and has a couple of those brilliant addictive lines that couldn't better support the drumming though doesn't get as kickass than on "Baptism Of Fire" for example. While Hoffman hasn't written that much groundbreaking riffs, where he really shines is in his leads and solos. The solos are closer to heavy metal and maybe some hard rock; they rock more, you can imagine the guitarist having a good time playing these.
The album starts with "An Eye For An Eye" with that almost spooky intro made of controlled guitar distortion followed by that ever addictive riff calling urgency from the get go. If the previous' albums may sound unrelentless because of their speed - and of course quality - here it still sounds so song after song - most of them - due to the riffs and overall musicianship quality. Well they are not particularly technical, but overall, again like the previous albums, they compliment well each other; nothing is desired or undesired and kick some serious ass. Then comes "Shellfire Defense" which features one of those instantly catchy choruses but not only being the song title. Another reason why the album is more controlled and calculated is unlike a couple of song title only chorus - while not being bad at all in itself - besides being more complex have some really good and catchy pre-choruses. So follows the song better known than the album, "The Saw Is The Law" which could feature one of those mandatory to be known screams in metal history if it wasn't for the album's ability to get unnoticed. While having one of those pre-choruses, the actual chorus is one of those simple two worded but still loved ones. "The saw is the law!" There's not much more badass than that, well except the splatter version - meaning: has a chainsaw intro and you can almost smell it! - featured on the named after that song EP.
"This man is better off dead" No this isn’t from the title track but yet another aptly chosen Tank cover, "Turn Your Head Around". Can't know for sure if the album's named after this song line or it is a coincidence and Sodom decided to cover it because of this particularity but knowing Tom as a Tank fan, the former wouldn't be surprising. While the cover kicks ass as the original, as heard on "Don't Walk Away" , Tom has the ability to find that little Algy Ward timbre though a lot more thin than on the first cover, well you could almost miss it here. Though not present on the vinyl version - which I first got - there's another cover just after one Sodom track; Thin Lizzy's "Cold Sweat". I can't say a word on covered band as it's the first track I heard of them, but it rocks. The lyrics are catchy and Tom's voice again couldn't fit better to be an alternative, the verse riff is one of those simple, repetitive, yet seem to be only working that way with the simple, bass drum-almost-more-complex-than-the-snare beat's compliments. Preceding the cover is the six minutes long almost epic "Capture The Flag" with that intro of toms shortly followed by the bass and progressively more present guitar building up to the first snare hits and the actual beginning of the song. Everything evolving in that mid-paced but massive pummelling thrash anthem, guided by fellow Tom describing a tight and tense battle. All of this leading to some again badass chorus: "Capture the flak!" It's just his strong German accent (Gs are pronounced like Ks), but it almost seems like a word play. And almost as badass, is a German saying "Russian roulette", well it's a badass sounding expression alone.
Back right after "Cold Sweat" is three songs consistent to their approach of any non-cover preceding track, "Bloodtrails" having that killer acoustic effect driven riff followed by comparably vicious screams as the "Der Saw" one: "Blood! ... Blood! ... Blood!". "Resurrection", dedicated to Tom's father, venture in a more heavy metal territory with a little nostalgic sound. May sound of out place but is surprisingly good and a welcomed addition. I don't know if the vinyl version which is also missing "Tarred And Feathered" is the definite one, that those songs are to be considered bonus tracks, but either way they’re good, not necessary but gives a good extension. Closing the album is the faster and addictive "Stalinorgel", their third punkish standout track. It features upbeat punkish riffs and drumming with Hoffman being in perfect shape, playing some nice fast n' short leads and several solos; he's clearly having a good time. There are also some shout-along gang shouts: "Stalinorgel!", fast and catchy vocal delivery and a false ending. The best possible last song from Sodom's last eighties sounding output, it's old-school and all and sounds like: "Okay guys, we had a good time but we need to go on, reach new grounds. So let's play like there is no tomorrow and we may just get killed on the battlefield".
And being the Knarrenheinz fanboi that I am, I can't make no comment about any Sodom cover he's featured on in a review. It's the third Sodom album cover he's on and the last of what I call their classic trilogy. Actually here you don't completely see him; seems like he's being entombed or something and unfortunately had one hell of a beating. His glasses are broken (you can see one of his eye) and his hand is all bloodied. Looks like his trip in Vietnam didn't turn so great and his bird crashed, only to be pursued by some Vietcong guerrillas and have one of those nasty "interrogations". Probably figured out he wasn't of any good and thrown him in some kind of hole making him rot in solitude until they conduct that gruesome experiment (Tapping The Vein) - have courage Knarrenheinz, your time of revenge will come. He exposes his war experiences in a more step back way, not in the battlefield but with an omnipresent view of it.
All in all, Better Off Dead marks the end of an era for Sodom, the end of their eighties thrash period. They went in a more brutal, almost death metalish at times direction with Tapping The Vein and then added some outer influences - namely punk - to keep their sound fresh during the period of crisis that was the 90ies for the thrash genre.
If you ask to a fan to mention one album by Sodom, this fan will never mention Better Off Dead. I don’t know why but this album has been always considered the hidden one in the band’s discography. Maybe it’s because it was put out at the beginning of the thrash metal crises worldwide period or maybe because after Agent Orange the thing started to change a bit for Sodom…I don’t know…but the thing that I know is that this is another good album by this band.
Sodom achieved the goal of reaching quite mature sonorities as the years pass by and we can hear them album after album, from the thrash/black mess of the first EP to the dynamic structures of the last Agent Orange that signed a more thrash style. Frank Blackfire was let go and a new guitarist arrived and also this could have contributed to this more mature approach of this album. Here I think Sodom reached the more mature and dark moment of their long career. The songs are less impulsive and somehow the darkened production helps in this.
The instruments volumes and sounds are now less angry and direct but conserving a thrash metal style, anyway. The things that catch the listeners immediately are the quite clear drums and the lower (in volumes) guitars sound. For example “Shellfire Defense” is on up tempo but barely reaches the intensity and the violence of Agent Orange compositions. It is always a very good piece of burning thrash along with the first “An Eye For An Eye” but the different approach and sounds make these songs darker and less impulsive. There are also more melodic arpeggios by the rhythmic guitars and also this adds a sense of maturity.
The structures and the refrains are always truly catchy and well done while Tom’s vocals are always raspy and rough with that “one thousand cigarettes” tonality. “The Saw is the Law” and “Capture The Flag” are two examples of the Sodom’s direction for this album. They took the mid tempo from “Remember The Fallen” track and they made brand new ones for this album that follow more or less the same style. Also the length and some furious but calculated restarts are signs of maturity. The weird guitars breaks on “Blodtrails” are quite new for the band and they fit the music well, to break a bit the sound.
On the other hand we have total thrash metal tracks like “Never Healing Wound” and the title track where the band manages to keep alive the most brawling spirit of thrash metal even if the production doesn’t help, as I said, for the pure impact of the guitars. “Stalinorgel” is the classic hardcore/thrash assault to end perfectly this album. Here Sodom demonstrated to everyone how they could be mature and violent at the same time. I can consider this as the more intelligent album by this band. It’s a pity that it’s so overlooked and underestimated because it contains some of the better songs by this band. If you want mature thrash by Sodom, get this one.
Well, after several months of unrelenting listening, seriously, not a day would go by when I would not itch and crave 'Better Off Dead' and its dulcet tones. I have come to the conclusion that 'Better Off Dead' is a thrash classic and one of the most unsung albums of the whole genre. It's tense and will grab you by the jugular asking;
'Why are the innocent dead and the guilty alive!'. Come on God, answer me... what d'ya mean your only open nine to five?
In 1990 and even a few years prior to that, things were turning more towards technically in thrash metal. It was a natural progression - young, spotty fellows with Marshall stacks decided they wanted to play faster and louder than their NWOBHM predecessors, and for the most part they succeeded. So logically, they continued to do so, but as Maiden got more proficient so did the thrashers and by 1990 we had exercises in technicality such as 'Coma of Souls' and 'Rust In Peace'. Sodom, going by the age-old principles that simpler ideas indeed do often work better went for a more austere take on thrash and as a result 'Better Off Dead' does not usher in a new age thrash style. Rather, it harkens back to the early 80s in its approach. Motorhead and Tank are still the order of the day for Sodom, and in all fairness they never outgrew their NWOBHM favourites. Sure Metallica may wear Witchfinder General tee-shirts to this day, but, it reeks of "please allow me back into the Metal Club, c'mon Tony". So in 1990, while every other fucker got a rager over sweep picking and Marty Friedman, Angelripper called Michael Hoffman who seems to have more than a passing obsession with 'Fast' Eddie Clarke and gave Sodom their best guitar sound ever.
Michael Hoffman, Germany's second favourite Hoff, really does a commendable job here. A Marshall stack, wah pedal and BC Rich pushed to breaking point, his tone is gorgeous albeit completely blistering... to the point of stripping lead based paint away. Notably, he uses a lot of mid range which is great for me as it gives a lot bit and snarl to the guitars. Please take note, mid-scooping does not equate a great metal guitar sound. However, a tube amp pushed to breaking point, a man capable of going biggity, biggity, biggity with a wah pedal and a great producer, however, does.
'Better Off Dead' for me and most others has three clear standout tracks. 'An Eye For An Eye', 'The Saw is the Law' and 'Stalinorgel'. 'Stalinorgel', is another name for the Katyusha rocket launcher meaning Stalin organ... thankfully not Stalin's organ. The song is a politically uncommitted view, barring the 'declaration of war by a madman' line, on the grim war of the Eastern Front, struggles hand to hand and the magnitude of plight. Like many other Sodom portrayals of warfare, it's simply depicting the human suffering and military tactics. And of course, the German accent is well suited to a harrowing tale of total war and devastation on the front lines of the Second World War. Still, one can bet over zealous members of the media branded this some sort of neo-fascistic cry for another advance for Lebensraum. Musically, it recalls 'Overkill' with its false endings, double bass drums entering unaccompanied at times and simple pentatonic licks. 'The Saw is the Law' is absolutely manic in its execution, Tom asserts himself once more as the best thrash vocalist with the rampant cries of;
'DERRR SAWWW!!!!' and then the band kicks into overdrive, mid-paced but Sodom understand that this merely allows more punches to be thrown. Its got a great atmosphere too, the opening wailing scratching vibrato give a tension to it that echoes its slasher movie themes. The slower tempo also gives Michael Hoffman more space in which to work, with his frenzied, but expertly crafted guitar solos. Its violent, blood-thirsty fun should of been a massive hit... well its got the Incubus market nailed.
'An Eye For An Eye' is the album's opening salvo - bombastic and tense, with one of the most urgent and rancorous riffs in thrash. Witchhunter's drums stand out on this one, is it to much to detect a bit of Ian Paice in his style? Lyrically, it's an excellent thrash metal yarn, a tale of personal justice, that unlike Anthrax's comic book exploits never comes across as goofy (despite that being the shorted ones' intention) and rather is a well-written insight into the mind of a man who takes the law into is own hands.
Elsewhere, 'Resurrection' is the most interesting here, Tom's tribute to his father. Unlike, other thrash tributes by say Metallica and Megadeth, this shows a lyricist writing outside of his native tongue coming up with more interesting lyrics, Tom here reflects on 'mortal dust' and 'flesh to bones'. Interesting that he does this when it could be argued that the death of a father is more shaking than that of a friend or band-mate. Musically, it is of note as it has the first non-snarled vocals on a Sodom record. It's also healthy that Tom can write about his family and not of a sexual awakening to roger his sister. 'Shellfire Defense' is notable for its peach of a riff, nimble yet very heavy, Muistane would be proud. The refrain of, you guessed it, 'Shellfire Defense!' is also effortlessly catchy. The albums title track is a nominal straight-forward thrasher, depicting a grey picture of modern life in which, you are indeed, better off dead. Is it really worth enduring the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune or should you simply kick the bucket... are you prepared?
'Better Off Dead' features two covers, but rather than reeking of a band running out of ideas, they show a rejuvenation of two 80s classics. Both faithful to their originals, at least as vocally close to Lynott as Mr. Such could get. I've loved the originals and these too are at very least brilliant homages.
To me, this is Sodom's best record and has provided hours upon hours of vicious and so very addictive thrashing fun. The band never repeated this formula again, shame really, but this just makes 'Better Off Dead' even more sacred.
How could you expect otherwise. Sodom has earlier released their two best thrashing albums (‘Persecution Mania’ and ‘Agent Orange’) which were alike more than a lot. That path continues here together with new guitarist Michael Hoffman (ex-Assassin) who replaced Frank Blackfire, but the balance got somewhat disturbed.
In true Bombenhagel-Augebombt thrashpunk style Sodom presented us with the thrashier ‘Stalinorgel’ which grew out to become one of my favourites. The quality thrash metal assault we had gotten used from especially the previous two albums, is represented on this album by the best thrashers ‘Eye For An Eye’, ‘Better Off Dead’ and ‘Bloodtrails’. And there is even a real Sodom gem here apart from the earlier mentioned songs: ‘Shellfire Defense’. This song should be mentioned together with Nuclear Winter and Agent Orange at all times. Yes, it is that good. The double bass-laden half speed metal-half thrash metal tune ‘Never Healing Wound’ is pretty entertaining. The short thrasher ‘Tarred and Feathered’ is just good but nothing more.
Unfortunately on ‘Better Off Dead’ many slow paced moments are creeping into the sound, making album as a whole losing power and intensity compared to earlier releases. I’m certainly not stating mid paced thrash metal is always bad, Kreator had proved they could also write some good slower material without losing intensity and with suiting riffs and personally I’ve always loved the Testament album ‘Practice What You Preach’. But Sodom – at this point in their career – hadn’t learned yet how to write real classy slower thrash songs. The first half of ‘Capture the Flag’ is a nice, but it takes just a bit too long to accelerate and doesn’t live up to the thrash assault as found on the earlier mentioned great songs. But more annoying: ‘The Saw Is The Law’ which just drags on and on. I never understood why some people liked this song. Also the tedious ‘Resurrection’ with the cheesy chorus gets on my nerves. I’m sure Graham Chapman would agree with me: ‘Get on with it!!!’
The second annoyance was the inclusion of two (!) covers in the middle of the album (‘Turn Your Head Around’ en ‘Cold Sweat’). Although especially the speedy ‘Turn Your Head Around’ has its own specific charm, it would have been better if both these covers had appeared at the end of the album or not at all and released separately on an EP. The covers damage the continuity, intensity and style concept of the album.
I am not saying Better Off Dead is a bad album, since it easily beats a lot of Sodom releases from the later nineties, but it is pretty inconsistent and I do get annoyed when after the brilliant ‘Shellfire Defense’ I have to wait for 4 songs in a row for the ‘real’ thrash metal album to continue and later on ‘Resurrection’ disturbs my thrash meditation as well. So no high score for the album as a whole but indeed some great stuff to be found here!
When it comes to Sodom, people usually say that 'Agent Orange' and 'Persecution Mania' are their best efforts and to some extent 'Tapping The Vein'. 'Better Off Dead' is generally ignored and from what I heard, this album takes a lot of heat because it's a little slower in direction, a bit mainstream-ish and the production is as clean and clear as can be. But don't let this fool you!!!! Sodom hasn't wimped out on this album like some of the popular known thrash bands later on in their careers like Metallica, Slayer and Sepultura. It maintains the heaviness of the Sodom's 2 previous albums with great vocals from Tom Angelripper to boot. Plus, this album was released in 1990 - a period of time where metal was about to go away from the public eye to be replaced with the arrival of the atrocious grunge scene, which caused some metal bands either to change their sound to become more commercial or break up. The great thing about the Sodom is that they have never wimped out or changed their sound significantly to satisfy the needs of commercial radio. And that's why I respect Tom Angelripper for not selling out to major trends. Seeing that drastic change in metal only motivated them to become more brutal and heavier on their next album called 'Tapping The Vein' which has pseudo-growls on 5 songs. Also the early '90s were more like Crossover/Death Metal period in metal with bands like Deicide, Morbid Angel, Napalm Death and Cannibal Corpse emerging on to an underground scene. So, that was a logical move for Sodom.
Anyway, onto the music of the album. It's not a step down from the previous much-hailed monster of the jaw-dropping thrash breaks album 'Agent Orange'. Tom Angelripper's vocals are in top form and he actually sings on this album like for example Tom Araya on 'South Of Heaven'. For Slayer, it was Tom's best vocal performance on that album
and it's Definitely Tom Angelripper's best vocal performance here. In my opinion, this is Sodom at their finest peak. There are a lot of catchy sing-along songs and choruses, with the 'Resurrection' being the most melodic song on the album. Most thrash lovers would deem it unnecessary and pass on that, but since I like my classic/traditional metal to have good melody, it's absolutely no problem with me at all.
Music is varied quite a bit on this album, ranging from classic speed metal like 'An Eye For An Eye', 'Capture The Flag', 'Never Healing Wound', 'Stalinorgel', in the vein of Motorhead and Tank to raging thrash monsters like 'Shellfire Defense', 'Bloodtrails', 'Better Off Dead', 'Tarred And Feathered'. There are also 2 covers on this album, 'Turn
Your Head Around' and 'Cold Sweat'. Both are originally done by Tank and Thin Lizzy. Now don't get me wrong, these covers don't detract from the whole vibe of the album, but I feel that it would've been better if Sodom put them on a single or an EP or something so that it could be replaced with 2 originals. Why I feel like that, is because Sodom never topped this album or released a similar album like this one. Nevertheless, their later albums have a share of good songs as well.
The album begins with 'An Eye For An Eye' which immediately sets the sound for the album with its ominous beginning (something that wouldn't be out of place in a suspense scene from a war movie) and the deeper voice questioning 'Why are the innocent dead and why are the guilty alive?....'. This is a nice speed metal song, which moves along at an efficient speed with cool sing-along chorus.
Next is 'Shellfire Defence'. Here we have the usual Sodom's classic in your face thrash tune, which wouldn't be out of place on 'Agent Orange'.
'The Saw Is The Law' is one of album's highlights. It starts off with the driving bass line, then gets going with Tom Angelripper's harsh growl "The saaaaaaaaaaawwwwwww!" which adds on to the atmosphere of the song and doesn't feel grating at all. It's a staple Sodom number, which is mid-paced and deadly with great riffage and vocals to back it up and is worth the price of the album for sure.
The rest of the material is no slouch either. 'Capture The Flag' is the longest song on this album, which clocks around at 6 min. It starts off with the battle style drumming and explodes into a speedy frenzy of riffing assault. Then it's speeds up in the middle and becomes one hell of a raging thrasher. The title track has a great mid-paced thrash break around 2:24 under the solo, something that wouldn't be amiss on 'Agent Orange'.
Basically, there are no weak points on this album. It has the right mixture of classic thrash and speed metal with great vocals. It's not over the top, nor very brutal like the next Sodom album, it's just an enjoyable classic metal. That's what Kreator's experimental albums like 'Endorama' should've sounded like. It just shows that if you want to have catchy sing-along songs with a good melody on your albums, your music can still remain heavy without losing any sort of credibility. Highly recommended!!!