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Well, today a lot of people are of the opinion that the early Sodom releases are true classics. But back in the mid-eighties, many oh-so-important persons did not take the band seriously. Admittedly, to have a look at the first haircut of Tom Angelripper could cause serious traumas. Anyway, the music itself did not lack of originality, just think of the multi-layered and fantastic "After the Deluge". Yet one thing is true, nobody had a clue that Tom's combat unit was such a force to be reckoned with. Then came "Expurse of Sodomy".
Already the brilliant opening of "Sodomy and Lust" made clear that Sodom had made a huge step towards professionality (naturally without flirting with commercialization). The bone-dry, prototypical riff had a minimalist aesthetic, but it left an tremendous impact. Its straightness provided the driving force of the verses which led seamlessly to the neckbreaking chorus. The bass guitar contributed the fundamental heaviness and Chris Witchhunter (R.I.P.) was generous with furious fill-ins. And, of course, Angelripper's vocals completed the show. However, the most outstanding feature of "Sodomy and Lust" was its perfect configuration. Unlike me, the song came without an ounce of superfluous fat. There were neither too many nor too few tones. The carefully designed track did not offer any form of chaotic details and this alone came as a surprise. However, the band had made a quantum leap. Was this really the same formation as before? These funny amateurs that had given the world crude bass solos and formidable lyrics ("Witch, bitch, no sleep in Sodom")?
The organic, clear and vigorous production supported the compositional excellence in the best possible way. One may call the sound of Witchhunter's tomtoms slightly sterile in view of the thundering reverb. I don't care. I liked the extremely professional sound right from the beginning, because it underlined the ambitions of Sodom in an impressive way. The same applied for "Conqueror", a violent attack which showed a similar design as the first track. Straight, fast and highly efficient, it pushed aside everything that stood in its way. The solo and the seemingly unstructured ending awoke memories of their erratic first tunes, but the overall picture remained the same; Sodom had achieved a new level of seriousness. "My Atonement" confirmed this statement ultimately. Its calm and cautious start was based on a fine melody, but a flattening riff shattered the silence. As the song progressed, Sodom accelerated the pace after a slow-moving part so that the track did not lack of power, drive and harshness. Only its ending was a little bit too long.
Regardless of this insignificant detail, "Expurse of Sodomy" laid the foundation for the further career of the three-piece and "Sodomy and Lust" has - as well as "Among the Weirdcong", "The Vice of Killing" or "Bullet in the Head" - its firm place in the eternal top ten of the band. As a consequence, you do not need to be familiar with each and every Sodom full-length. Rather mediocre works such as their self-titled album or "Masquerade in Blood" will probably not make your day. But without the here presented EP, Tom will not give you the license to rip angels. Sorry for that.
Sodom, for me, is the most consistently interesting of the 80s German thrash bands, having as they did a style that didn't stick strictly to thrash (which, in its purest form, I find a little repetitive) and the best singer, plus leads that did not sound like Kreator's, which was that band's early hindrance. Sodom always managed to get a brutal tone that gave away nothing on speed, nothing on heaviness, and nothing on nastiness, while still having distinct parts and characters to each individual composition. 'Expurse of Sodomy' is a decent release, but plays in a different vein from the same year's full-length 'Persecution Mania', which had far more traditional thrash breaks, whereas here we see a partial extreme metal influence (more death than black, if you ask me) that would later become a scarcity on Sodom albums.
The EP sounds great, incorporating a thick and dirty guitar tone and omnipresent drums that have a wonderful range, making the use of the whole kit a delight to hear. The bass is heard strongly and adds a lot of power, plus a sinister beat of its own on the closing track, while Tom Angelripper growls like he needs a throat replacement, keeping the atmosphere threatening throughout. The problem comes from the fact that the songs just don't quite have the content to make this release essential. The album that followed was glutted with riffs, so I can't help wishing that Sodom had given just a couple more to the three songs here.
The first track is a churning, dark thrasher that maximises the effect of the key change in the riff to keep a rather simple structure exciting for five minutes. It doesn't do so much in the riff department and the solo is alright, but Tom Angelripper's putrid growl at the end of the chorus is a disgusting highlight. 'The Conqueror' storms forth on double bass drums and a vicious tremolo riff (it sounds strangely familiar and I can't think where from), though doesn't pack in quite enough changes to be anything more than an adrenaline rush (complete with bonehead, one-word chorus), despite the great drum solo that closes the song. 'My Atonement', on the other hand, is a slower beast with a great atmospheric build-up and mostly mid-paced riffs. This track is more considered, yet there is something unflattering about the way it hangs together, with a solo coming from nowhere after a dull repeating section, leaving the EP on a rather anticlimactic note as it fades away into the darkness.
All in all, 'Expurse of Sodomy' plays like a goodbye to the 'Obsessed by Cruelty'-era and, with a clearer sound and tighter playing in hand, allowed the band to make the move to the purer thrash havoc of their late 80s albums.
There’s something funny about this EP: it’s practically one of my favourite releases of all time, yet I often forget it actually exists. This happens because I tend to see this EP and “Persecution Mania” as a single release, since these three tracks have been included on the CD edition of that well-known thrash masterpiece. However, “Expurse of Sodomy” lives on its own, being not just a mere supplement of bonus tracks to “Persecution Mania”, but a transitional record between the “proto-black” phase and the thrash phase. It came out in 1987, few months before the actual full-length, and offered three songs which showed a renewed band, thanks to a line-up change that brought in a new, precious force: the awesome guitarist Frank Blackfire.
What you instantly notice is the improvement of the production: now it’s much clearer and leaves the right space to guitars, also giving them the perfect harsh sound that a thrash metal guitar would always need. Witchhunter’s drumming skills have further improved, and now his performances with double bass (on “My Atonement”) and his legendary mayhemic fills (on the other two tracks) are even more technical and remarkable than before. Tom Angelripper begins to develop his classical vocal style that will use on the next two albums, surely still harsh and brutal, but a bit more “refined” and technical in confront to his old barks. His style could easily be considered as a deep growl, but it’s not exactly the kind of guttural growl that vocalists like Kam Lee, Frank Mullen and Chris Barnes are gonna develop in the next years, nor the raw growled style used by Chuck Schuldiner at that time: Thomas Such’s vocals are a definite trademark on their own, and cannot be compared to any other extreme metal vocalist. He just shows his anger in the most personal and passionate way possible.
The style of these three tracks could be defined as a transition between the relentless occult style of “Obsessed by Cruelty” and the aggressive, warlike style of “Persecution Mania” and “Agent Orange”; the song-structure is still very straightforward, in the vein of the previous releases, but something you can instantly notice is the slightly different nature of the riffs: they still have a strong “blackened” feel, but they’re generally more “tense” and brutal, inspiring a bleaker and more “plumbeous” atmosphere, lacking the classic speed metal influences and the “over-the-top” satanic melodies of songs like “Brandish the Scepter”. Now it’s just pure late-80s thrash metal: brutality and aggression without compromises!
However, the occult topics are not gone: this EP still has a similar lyrical approach to “Obsessed by Cruelty”, and lacks the anti-war lyrics that will shortly become a trademark of Sodom’s style. The first track “Sodomy and Lust”, right from the title, leaves no doubt about it: it begins with a very weird blackened thrash riff, prosecuting with some tremolo-picked dark melodies that are gonna make history in the next years, and features some of the most poetic lyrics of Sodom’s “occult” repertory, sung by Tom with a very deep and haunting voice:
”Behind the scenes of destiny,
I adore you in this song for me.
Call me within your holy house to dwell,
let me raise for myself in spell!
Voluptuously dancing daughters of the night sky,
sing the rapturous love song with high;
let your sweet scented juice run,
waste away under the lashes of my whip!
Bathe in sin...
break their crust...
SODOMY AND LUST!”
Considering the nature of these lyrics, filled with sexual/occult themes and a very advanced lexicon, it’s no surprise that Cradle of Filth chose to cover just this song (and that one is a great cover too). Something you can notice about this track in comparison to “Obsessed by Cruelty” is the use of mid-paced riffs: their thrashier and more brutal nature is immediately evident, in comparison to the old NWOBHM-influenced mid-tempos of “Pretenders to the Throne” or “Proselytism Real”, and the only influences now are Slayer, Venom and other more recent names of the thrash scene of those years (1987 was a glorious time for the genre).
“The Conqueror” is driven by one of the most intense and penetrating riffs of the whole band’s repertory, somewhat similar to Sarcofago’s “Satanas”, but with a unique corrosive feeling that makes it irresistible: it actually sounds like Norwegian black metal before Norwegian black metal, and even without need to use open-strummed riffing. It’s a very basic song, and I highly recommend it to guitarists who want to learn how to play extreme metal: it will help you a lot to refine your ability about fast-picked/palm-muted riffs. On this track, Tom’s vocal performance is a bit less skilled and sounds pretty poor and disorganized, except in the chorus, where he yells with a very creepy and pissed off voice. However, despite the occasional vocal flaws, this is still one of the most kickass tunes ever written by Sodom.
But, undoubtedly, the most experimental and innovative episode of this record is the final track, “My Atonement”, an epic masterpiece which sounds even more majestic than the dark constructions of old songs like “Proselytism Real”, “Sepulchral Voice” and “Obsessed by Cruelty”: it begins with a nostalgic arpeggio which shows in your mind the vision of an ancient, cloudy landscape devastated by religious war. The riffs, though being played in a very “martial” mid-paced fashion, are very intense and penetrating, and show a strong personality in their unique rendition of epic atmospheres. This stuff is massively different from an album like “Into Glory Ride” (which is my favourite epic metal opus of all time), but the result is almost at the same level. This blackened cavalcade proceeds with decision, while Tom’s deep and angered vocals tell about an old story of religious war (definitely different from the future lyrics about nuclear disasters and Vietnam war); then, the pace speeds up a little bit, ending with some thrash riffs which, more than a proper sense of aggression, give to the listener an “epic/background” vibe. For a thrash metal band, this is very atypical, and it surely had its influence on the most atmospheric side of black metal.
“Expurse of Sodomy”, packed together with “Persecution Mania” and “Agent Orange”, represents the maximum expression of thrash metal (though you can also recognize how much this EP has been influential for black metal). This is a little piece of history and, at the same time, represents just a little taste of things to come on the next two releases. Prepare for the nuclear winter!
It could be argued that of all the bands to smash the pillars of conventional wisdom circa 1986 in the thrash world, Sodom sort of missed the boat and was still tightly entrenched in the early 80s speed metal orthodoxy of Venom. “Obsessed By Cruelty” was by no means a lackluster effort in and of itself, but next to the crowning majesty of “Pleasure To Kill” and the somewhat less so but still remarkably intense “Eternal Devastation”, it seemed slightly archaic and a bit less of a trailblazer. But like a fine wine, some vintage takes just a tad bit longer to full ferment, and immediately following the turnover to 1987, something came into play that changed everything.
The name of this particular game changer is Frank Blackfire, and his signature guitar sound basically transformed an otherwise solid slab of evil into an unstoppable wrecking machine. While the battery of Witchhunter and the sepulchral barks of Angelripper should not be underplayed here, it is the nimble yet wicked riff work and superior shred gymnastics of their newly acquired six string sorcerer that really carries their sound. With just the right balance of crunch and punch, and a better organized mixing job to keep the drums and vocals from drowning out the rest, “Expurse Of Sodomy” acts as a brief yet auspicious skirmish before the grand war that would be “Persecution Mania” and the near equally vicious follow up “Agent Orange”.
Each of these 3 morose assaults on all things decent carries with it an eruption of rage and speed fit to challenge the most extreme aspects of Slayer and Kreator, to the point of just barely nudging out “Haunting The Chapel” for my favorite thrash EP from the 80s. The first two of these morbid tales take on the speed and fury of a typical Slayer thrasher, but the character of the riffs are menacing in a different respect, as if merging a twisted harmony of woe into a singular guitar line, most particularly with regard to the principle riff of “Sodomy And Lust”, The last song “My Atonement” starts off in creepy semi-ballad territory, almost as if Testament were more inclined to the occult than politics, and ultimately ends up being a bit slower and heavier.
The pairing of this EP with the full length “Persecution Mania” has given a slight impression of the former being more of an afterthought, when truthfully this is a rather brilliant before-thought where the pieces that would make up the latter’s impeccable brilliance had mostly fallen into place. The is the sort of smaller collection that is best treated as separate, albeit not entirely unrelated offering, and it functions extremely well as its own album. It marks the beginning of a brief, albeit brilliant collaboration that made the late 80s an interesting period for the development of both thrash and death metal, and unfortunately it ended with the demise of said decade.
Something of a crude instrument of torture among a sharpening arsenal of updated tools, it would only be a matter of time before Sodom themselves partook in the evolutionary tactics of ravenous European thrash metal, and the Expurse of Sodomy EP marks that turning point. As vicious and tangible as anything they've issued in their career, it's comprised of three fairly remarkable tracks which still rank among their best, and it also heralds the incorporation of Frank Blackfire to the lineup, the band's third guitarist in three releases, and clearly the most impressive to that point, a blocky thrash and chugger with superior tone and skills in both the riffing and solos, the former lacking from Sodom's previously releases, which got by on their rugged, disgusting charisma over songwriting.
Expurse of Sodomy is basically the Sodom that I have always known and loved and looked forward to hearing more of, and it opens with a bang, almost literally: "Sodomy & Lust" features frenzied streams of delicious speed mutes, honed in with deadly accuracy, especially below its predictable but perfect chorus, wherein it becomes clear that even Tom's vocals have improved, or at the least are far less sloppy. "The Conqueror" functions with a similar forward thrust, the verse vocal patterns reminiscent of something you'd find on the first two Kreator records, the wild and unkempt solo here being particularly excellent, the guitar riffs slightly more epic and gladiatorial. "My Atonement" actually breaks the pace, beginning with a delightful acoustic guitar atmosphere, something you couldn't have expected before, and then building a mantra into a shit kicking mid-paced chugging rhythm. It's my least favorite of the three, but only by a slight margin, and it in no way drags down the effort.
The EP has been re-issued with the Persecution Mania by now, and that is the form in which many will digest its contents, but unlike many tack-on short players, Expurse of Sodomy still stands on its own, so much that if it was severed from that package, it would still be worth paying money for. Along Slayer's excellent Haunting the Chapel, this has to be one of the greatest triple threat trackers in all of thrash/speed metal, and the content is well produced and timeless. I've had a love/hate (okay, love/'meh') relationship through most of Sodom's career, never quite ranking them on the same level as Destruction and Kreator, even despite the low points those bands would often hit in the 90s, but as of 1987-89, the trio was easily on fire and worthy of their spot at the forefront of the German battalion.
The second half of the 80s was time for big changes for Sodom; changes that involved mostly the sound that was far more structured and mature than in the recent past. Already from Obsessed By Cruelty, we saw that change from black/thrash to a more thrash metal attitude and sound but with this Expurse Of Sodomy the whole matter now seems more compact and definite. The production now is more clear-cut and the riffs are more precise.
Tom’s vocals are always vicious but less screamed, to become harsher and thrasher. The riffs that come from thrash metal now are more preponderant and massive with a restless guitar work by the mythical Blackfire. The opener is the famous “Sodomy And Lust” that features up tempo to begin, to turn in some mid paced parts. They are really well done, especially during the drums stomps in the middle. Now the group has new skills; also the technique has improved a lot and you can really hear it from the faster, precise riffage and the songwriting.
The bass is pounding behind the whirlwind created by the mix of drums and guitars. This EP doesn’t have the same power of the following album talking about the production, but it’s a quite big step ahead for this band in a so short period of time. “The Conqueror” is my favourite one here with that simple but catchy structure that support headbanging tempos and the fast, essential refrain. This song is total speed without a moment to unwind a bit or rest. Total thrash up tempo. “My Atonement” is a bit different, showing a sad arpeggio by the beginning. The rest of the song is so similar to a march in the darkness, because the tempo is really slow, murky and obsessive to turn faster by the middle.
All in all, another step further for Sodom: a band that has improved a lot since the early days without forgetting how to play brutal stuff, this time with a more mature basis and less extreme metal influences. A sign of how the future would have been.
Imagine being a kid again in the 80's era. I'm talking about a young kid like around 12 or 13 and experimenting with new music. You go to the tape store (yes, I said tape), and you come across this discount priced E.P. by German metal legends Sodom. You pick it up because you've heard good things and you're looking for a heavy fix. Well you pop this sucker in and the crust build-up you've had going for years will start to bleed clean. This is the classic old school metal that transcends genre classification.
This mini album has a very dark and obscure feel to it like there's evil within the actual recording. This sound experience is the equivalent to watching an old technicolor zombie flick on vhs tape instead of dvd format. Nothing these days no matter how it's tried, can reproduce this kind of atmosphere within the musicl ever again. This is somewhat black metal because of the overall feel of the music. This can also be classified as early death metal because of the low, gutteral styled croak of the vocalist. It's also thrash metal because it's got some groovy moments but nothing up-beat or happy that I assure you.
When I first heard this E.P. I couldn't believe the speed of it. I heard this in the late 80's right before Morbid Angel hit the scene in a big way and set new standards for speed in extreme metal. But this, is definitely faster than say, Slayer but maybe not quite as fast as Dark Angel's fastest moments like on their Leave Scars L.P. for example.
I would reccomend this recording to those types of metal fans that don't need everything all shiny and new all the time and would like to visit one of the darker moments in metal's back catalog. Experience what was quite a life changing moment for a metalhead back then and what just might be one for you as well. My only complaint is that it's not a full length and that's why I took away one point. The full length album that came out right after this called Persecution Mania, was basically a continuation of this style but nothing ever quite recaptured the foul darkness of this thing.
“…behold the flame that burns in every heart of man…”
Having mercy on us, the tearer of angels and his crew (with new guitarist Frank Blackfire usurping Destructor a.k.a Wulf, their third guitarist in as many releases) didn’t wait two years to send out Sodom’s next poisonous spore, a small but moiling triangle of tracks that do more than merely forge a ramp to the next full-lengther. From their debut demo onward, Sodom were silently gracing their releases with the power of flight, the strength of navigation that, though artless in itself, would levitate the band’s sound out of the last mud bucket and into one a little less bespattered and fly-ridden. Gradual it was as two disfigured demos trudged in out of the rain and dried themselves off to the ‘sparkling’ sheen of In the Sign of Evil. The ep wiped the sludge from its eyes and recognized pace changes, arrangement dramatization, a hunky slow part or ten, and Obsessed by Cruelty. Expurse of Sodomy sees the band that were known as musical simpletons having almost learned to read without moving its lips, penning a handful of tunes less disorienting in their disheveled upheaval, yet manage to accomplish this without lowering the boom on Sodom’s terrifying insurgence that had built whatever following they had. The next step had fallen.
Of course, hiring Harris Johns to help the production find the bathroom and teach it the magnificence of wiping doesn't discourage EOS’s ascent toward the more highbrowed complexion of Persecution Mania, nor did it dry up the band’s song-spitting fervor.
“Sodomy and Lust” and “The Conqueror” are parents to the yet unborn tracks on Persecution Mania, their fresher din sounding less timeworn than warmongers on Obsessed by Cruelty and more up to speed (not literally) to the year this found daylight. Though the riffs aren’t the most imaginative around, it’s easy to hear the band’s egress from their mid-‘80s production-bound dourness.
The former is paced with mobile, brewing peril as if climbing horizontally to something that’s moments away from exploding, which in this case is an upturned chorus that at its end takes cues from landmates Destruction (“Bestial Invasion”) and Necronomicon (“Possessed by Evil”) with Angel Ripper’s guttural eruption of the title against a background of silence. “The Conqueror” is a little more nose-to-the-grindstone in its destiny, to the knifepoint and with no breakdowns to speak of.
These two contusions of melody are braced by the band’s first transcendence from their usual abominable selves. “My Atonement” is an odd creature. It’s sworn to life by lightly thunderous thrums, airy keys, chants of a Gregorian kind, and electrical acoustic-like fingerwork that grumbles along, advancing in speed little by little but never coming to a full charge, but is actually rather tedious and is seemingly circulated only by Tom’s rhapsodized, throat-scarred vocals. They’re atoning for something here, but like the preacher who’s lost his faith, I’d rather not hear it, and is the main reason for a score of this caliber.
With side one’s more vascular muscle than previously flexed and side two’s unexpected gambit, it’s my pleasure to recommend EOS as the trio’s turning point without being fully fledged, the precursor to Persecution Mania.
If you’re bored and happen to have the album, crank it down to 33rpm for rhythms that’re slo-mo grime with vocals harking a more vampiric, stone-ground drawl like those of Johan Larsson of early/mid-'90s Séance. Pretty cool for a little while anyway.
For only three tunes, you get your money's worth, which is every penny in this case. A well-produced EP with good, solid tunes that is NOT a throwaway in any sense of the word, that is.
The guitar sound is good for the time, and Frank Blackfire shreds his brains out all over the tunes on display here. The bass, as always, is buried to the point of inaudibility like most every damn metal album out there from this time period. The drums are too distant-sounding in the mix for my taste, and Chris Witchhunter was never the tightest drummer in the world anyway (in fact, he's pretty weak in that department). But I forgive him this once, as this only marginally affects the badassness of this EP.
"Sodomy & Lust" opens up with a storming riff that leads into the customary scalding thrash metal Sodom became known for, its immediacy rendering it a right ass-kicker. Tom's vocals are good and strong, and with his thick German accent, he sounds pretty damn menacing. No subtlety, no BS, just straightahead power and might. Frank's solo is impressive and dramatic--he was easily the best guitarist they'd had at the time. A good opener!
"Conqueror" is even more intense and aggressive than the first song, with more a classic pedal point riff opening it up a la Slayer in the minor pentatonic scale. When the drums blast off in this tune, they drag your ass into a maelstrom of raging metal where the riffs pound away at you like the weakling you are and Tom simply spits out "CONQUEROR!!! CONQUEROR!!! CONQUEROR!!! UGH!!!" to make his point abundantly clear. Simple and direct is the best way to make a point, after all. Another cooking solo from Frank tops this off very nicely.
"My Atonement" is atypical in that it starts off slow and grinding with creeping riffs that sneak up on you until the song explodes about halfway through into speed and fury again. Some very Crowleyan lyrics that in fact quote more or less directly from his "Book of The Law" adorn this tune--makes you wonder about Olde Tom, eh. No Satanic crap on this EP lyrically, in fact, which makes me think this was the first incidence of their changing lyrical direction before they went from Satanic to war-oriented themes.
Get this, because it will compress your spine into a small grey column of muck like you deserve and loooove so much! Classic Deutsch thrash is a beautiful thing, what can I say.