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Every once in a while, it's quite nice not to have to come up with some clever introductory sentence that tells the readers some brief, useless tidbits about a band they might have never heard of before. That's because In War and Pieces is lucky number thirteen for Sodom. Aside from the deluge of full-lenghths Sodom has fired out over the past two and a half decades, they've also released a slew of EPs, DVDs and compilations. For me, Sodom has always played the role of that fairly attractive, fun girl who's never on my mind until she surprisingly sets foot into the party. I'm not really thinking about her before she shows up and I quickly move onto other things after we're finished hanging out, but dammit, the times we share together are carefree and we have a blast most of the time. All comparisons aside, I assure you that the actual name of the band does not play a role in this metaphor. Perhaps.
The reason I've never really been let down by any of Sodom's other twelve full-lengths (I can't believe I'm admitting to actually listeing to all of them) is quite simple: I've never expected much. Hell, I wouldn't even include Agent Orange or Persecutuion Mania in a discussion I was having about the greatest thrash albums of all time. The truth is, Sodom's songwriting has always lacked the extra substance necessary for them to be considered among the truly elite. However, In War and Pieces has been continuously blasting through my various pieces of audio equipment since its European release date, and I can't help but wonder if maybe it's me who's missing something.
Interestingly enough, a few of the bands whom I would throw into that "elite" catagory have failed miserably in releasing anything worth a shit over the past few years. The solos on World Painted Blood were laughable, to say the least. In that sense, Sodom is somewhat unique. Regardless of what I expect from the band, they've never put out an album that didn't have its great moments. The self-titled album was a prime example. Songs like "Wanted Dead" are exactly what I look for when I'm in thrash mode. By the end of the album, I'm bored, tired and ready to move on to something more interesting, but I still couldn't ever shake the thought that maybe, one day, Sodom would come through and release an entire album with songs full of non-stop, make-me-want-to-punch-soccer-moms-in-the-face-while-I'm-running-by-them-in-the-park type of shit. The thrash music that, if I were still a minor, would have incited plenty of Mad Dog 20/20 drinking and window breaking.
That day has not come quite yet, but it might be near, because In War and Pieces is thoroughly enjoyable. Every track stands out in its own way. The album's pacing is fast when it needs to be, and the slower moments only build up the listener's anticipation of further mind-ripping segments. The solos are substantive enough to prove that they are still a very necessary element of this type of agressive music, and the melodies are memorable. Another aspect that sets this band apart from some of its decaying competitors is Tom Angelripper's vocals. Along with Kreator's Miland Petrozza, Angelripper seems to possess the type of German "old man" strength that allows his vocal chords to become more piercing as the years continue to pass by.
The bottom line is that In War and Pieces kicks some serious ass and should be purchased by anyone desperately looking to fill the void of not having enough quality, shitkicking music. It also proves that Sodom is not going to be out of gas any time soon. That one album I've always been looking for might be just around the corner. The potential is definitely there and the motivation seems to be as well. In War and Pieces certainly has longevity, and if taken seriously, it will be rewarding to anyone who spins it repeatedly. And so...I suppose the time has come for me to give that old friend of mine a serious go-around. I don't have much to lose at this point and I don't have much else going for me either.
Originally written for MetalReview.com
In sport sometimes you just need to keep that wily veteran around the traps. Sure their best years may be behind them and the game may have passed them by a little, but you can’t go past true quality, class and experience and you need them around to teach the next generation and set an example for the team. In the now resurgent thrash scene booming globally and sprouting a new breed of thrashers Sodom is that much needed old head.
Where most of their Teutonic thrash compatriots have wanned and come back and wanned again Sodom have weathered their midlife crisis of punk tinged mediocrity and been tearing it up in the new millennium. We may only have had two proper full lengths since 2001, but they have both been corkers and well worth the wait and despite sticking to a tried and true formula they have continued to wipe the floor with younger more hyped bands in the thrash genre.
In War and Pieces completes a trilogy of classic 00s releases and while paying respect to the past also remains modern, relevant and dynamic within their brand of darkened thrash. The album combines some of the catchy sing a-long moments of M-16 with the hard hitting aggression and no nonsense approach of 2006s self titled scorcher. The Germanic legends have lost none of their ability to pen a good ditty to complement their blistering riffage with exceptional song writing and structure again at the fore building on the time honored verse-chorus-solo approach. Tracks such as ‘God Bless You’, ‘Soul Contraband’ and ‘Nothing Counts more than Blood’ highlight this technique to a tee while also blending in anthemic choruses, rock structures and a little epicness to round out the winning formula.
Unlike their previous self titled cut which boasted a truly brutal and boisterous sound Waldemar Sorychta’s production helps bring out the more subtle moments and gives a nice modern edge to the classic Sodom sound. And be damned if Angelripper’s vocals aren’t getting better with age, sure he is now sounding even more like Mille from fellow brothers in arms Kreator, but that is hardly a bad thing and helps bring more personality to the songs which is better than anything the cliché yelling, shouting, screaming, death grunt hordes could ever hope to compete with.
In War in Pieces is yet another impressive notch in Sodom’s bullet riddled belt, whether you are an old fan, current fan or new fan. Their approach is proven, their style their own, so why change a winning formula? Quality is timeless and Sodom’s brand of thrash continues to pass the test of time. Recommended essential metal.
After a dip in the late 90s, thrash is back and Teutonic titans Sodom are here to lead the way. One of the original “Big German Three” along with Kreator and Destruction, power-trio Sodom have evolved their sound from the earlier blackened thrash, through a punk feel to a more melodic sound. In War And Pieces, their 13th release in 30 years, is an effective summary of both new and old, and bound to attract new attention as well as recapture the diehards.
Simply put, Bernemann owns this record. His solos are fantastic and well-suited to the meaty riffs, even when changing tempo, such as in “Storm Raging Up”. Schottkowski destroys the kit, especially on “Hellfire” and “Knarrenheinz”, their nod to their earlier faster material. Angelripper's bass provides a complementing rhythm section during those headbanger moments, of which there are plenty. Later in the album, there is an echo of Necrophobic, like in the chorus of “Soul Contraband”, before the album closes with the infectious mid-paced “Styptic Parasite”. The band fly their veteran colors, demonstrating the ability to write material that can be easily translated to a live environment, leaving behind many sore necks.
Sodom fans will be pleased to hear that Angelripper has not lost his voice, and his Araya-esque voice sounds harsh as ever on this release, even letting out some impressive growls and a blackened feel. His lyrics vary in quality, unfortunately weakened by his pronunciation such as on “Feigned Death Throes”. There are echoes of their “Napalm In The Morning”/“M-16” war past on “Nothing Counts More Than Blood” with the line “Dead bodies served as rifle rest/and protection when the bullets blast”. He even shows a sense of humor with “I'm saddle-sore through my ride of gore”. However, he really comes into his own on “Knarrenheinz”, dedicated to their gasmask-clad mascot, spitting an impressively fast vocal over pounding skins and blazing guitars.
Aside from a couple of lyrical points, the main issues I take with In War And Pieces are when the band try too hard for variety: the acoustic intro of “God Bless You” and the vocal effects on “Through Toxic Veins” in particular. This sort of experimentation does not add to the music, and could have been left out.
In short, however, this is a brilliant thrash release, and one of the stronger of Sodom's discography. Fans of Slayer, Kreator et al should definitely pick this up, along with anybody who has an interest in the genre, as a reaffirmation that thrash is not dead.
Originally posted at www.blackwindmetal.blogspot.com
Sodom frontman Tom Angelripper was featured in the most recent issue of Decibel with an enlightening Q&A. It revealed him to be a man from a blue collar background (he's a former miner) with a lot of respectable opinions that are unpopular in the metal world (such as his disdain for drugs, and his criticism only of religious fanatacism rather than religion in general). So even though Agent Orange is the only album I had from the band, I decided to get the new one, In War and Pieces.
Even though 21 years have passed between those two albums, little has changed for Sodom. They're still clearly masters of Teutonic thrash metal, with a straight-forward approach to writing music that's seemingly immune to any change happening elsewhere in the genre. It's produced better--but not overpolished--and you can hear the bass throughout the album. The sound has lost its punk aftertaste, and they have more skill on their instruments.
It's still full speed in a few places, like the title track (with its awesome if cliche shout-along chorus), "Hellfire", and "Knarrenheinz" (named for the band's gas-maskot). The latter is also proof that they can still shred out an extended solo when they want. But on the whole the album has slowed down to mid-pace, with some of it getting more melodic than you might expect ("Through Toxic Veins" or closer "Styptic Parasite"). Sometimes this mid-paced approach to thrash leads to mediocrity, like "Feigned Death Throes" or "The Art of Killing Poetry", but there's enough aggression and headbanging rhythm to make the album work.
The best surprise on the album is "God Bless You", a track about sending young men off to war. It starts out slow and melodic, and ends up mid-paced, but it's startling for its unlikely combination of sadness, hope, and anger.
The Verdict: By all accounts, Sodom is as reliable and unchanging as Motörhead, and In War and Pieces is enough evidence to believe that. It's nothing groundbreaking, but it's very much worthwhile.
originally written for http://fullmetalattorney.blogspot.com/
Originally written for www.headbangers.in -----
Onkel Tom is back. Germany’s politically-paranoid thrash masters Sodom return with their follow up to their 2007 self-titled release. The album features an evolved sound, an angrier Angelripper and darker humour (especially with reference to the album cover).
Sodom has always been known for its extreme hatred towards political fundamentalism and how it rapes the common man’s livelihood. This time the focus is clearly on religious terrorism, its outcome and how self-righteous governments think they can correct it by killing the innocents associated with the faith. This point is made crystal clear right at the beginning of the first track, the title track. It starts with a very middle-East inspired chord tremolo riff which then becomes the signature Sodom barrage of slide-and-tremolo heaviness. Vocalist Tom Angelripper’s voice has become gruffer and he sounds angrier than ever. The song’s entire style is reminiscent of the style on M-16 and the entire album has elements of that and their self-titled work. The delve into old school is also more prominent now with very regular bass clef tremolos and, of course, the guitar solos. None of the solos here are the regular whammy-wails that are characteristic of the Slayer-inspired style of thrash metal. Each solo actually has a very narrative element to it with slow and fast interchanges, heavy scale exploration and a very methodical choice of note sequences in each measure of the rhythm. Basically if the solo on ‘City of God’ gave you goosebumps, expect a lot more of such sections here.
The choice of rhythms itself is a very narrative one as well. Songs like ‘Through Toxic Veins’, ‘Nothing Counts More Than Blood’ and ‘God Bless You’ have an extremely sneering yet emotive aspect to them. The rhythms are heavy,aggressive and yet ambient and that adds a lot to the general theme and message of the album being brought out. There are also songs like ‘Feigned Death Throes’,Storm Raging Up’ and ‘Soul Contraband’ that have a more direct approach with the aggressive melodies and yet there are moments of groove in those rhythms that keep the deliciously honest dark ‘Sodom’ humour alive. If you are by now alarmed at the lack of mention of traditional teutonic thrash chaos, donot despair for there are ‘Hellfire’ and the long-overdue ode to their mascot ‘Knarrenheinz’. The latter is sung in Deutsch and really sounds much more brutal than their English lyrics even though I don’t understand what Onkel Tom is saying.
As an overall wrap, I would say this album is a mix of everything that has defined Sodom over the ages, from start to finish. It has the aggression, the hatred, the dark humour and of course, the pounding heaviness that will make you scream ‘Danke Schoen Tom’ once the album gets over. Check it out for sure. Whether you are a thrasher or not.
It has been 3 years since the last new record released by German thrash act, Sodom, who are arguably more influential in the thrash metal world than Slayer (USA). I have listened to sodom since my teenage years, during school, and sitting outside with the other outcasts at my old school smoking and being obnoxious. Sodom always reminds me of a more innocent time, but at the same time, reminds me of what a shithead I used to be.
Sodom started as a low-fi blackened thrash act, and moved more towards just being a thrash metal band. They are probably my favorite thrash act to date (other than Swashbuckle or Megadeth's early stuff), and I never miss a record when Sodom releases one. I first found sodom on a whim when I heard the Cradle Of Filth cover of the song "Sodomy and Lust", which is probably the worst cover in the world. I wanted to base Cradle Of Filth's cover on a score of 1-10, and after hearing the original, I gave it a flat out 0.
This record is very different from anything Sodom ever released. The sound of the vocals follow the last record ("The Final Sign Of Evil") and their self titlled, 2006 release, but the music had a sound that I haven't heard since M-16 and Masquerade in Blood. It was really melodic and catchy, but still in your face and kicking you into overdrive waiting to hear the next track in wide-eyed anticipation. It's the kind of record that a band releases mid-career, but as we all know, Sodom is way past their mid-career (after being around nearly 30 years).
Everyond knows and loves the album "Agent Orange" because it follows not only thrash elements, but the harsh screaming (Thank you, Tom Angelripper) also caught the attention of people in the death metal crowd. Eventually, many Black metal fans started listening to Sodom and started to love them. "In War And Pieces" will follow this trend, I think. Though not as heavy, though more "mainstream" and more melodic, though (dare I say) less heavy as all the predecessing albums, it is still a great album.
The drums are fantastic, hitting sometimes 5/7 timing and most of the time hitting 3/4, which is rare in thrash, which hits usually 4/4 timing. The fills were great, and really technical, showing that Bobby Shottkowski still has his skills. Many people may argue in the future that the drums were slow and thus he lost skill, but I think it takes more skill to play a slow 5/7 timed drum piece than a really fast, oompah loompah polka 4/4 timed beat. The guitar was fan-fucking-tastic. It was like M-16 but better, in your face and getting you aching to hear the solo, and when that beautiful moment happens, you can't help but sit back and say damn...
All in all, I'm really pleased with this new album. It'll definetly go down in my favorites, and I couldn't hope for better from the 3 guys from Sodom. I hope they have a few more great albums in their brains, and I'll be waiting to hear them.
Highlights: In War And Pieces, Through Toxic Veins, Nothing Counts More Than Blood, God Bless You, The Art of Killing Poetry, Knarrenheinz
30 years of German thrash history do not come without a price, and that price is that Sodom will occasionally release an album that fails to puncture the great expectations manifest through Obsessed by Cruelty, Persecution Mania, Agent Orange, Better Off Dead, and so forth. Whether it was the band's 90s relapse into a punk frenzy, or the repeated attempts to reinvigorate their political and warfare driven classics after abandoning the Satan pit, there have been some dips in quality, never lasting long. In War and Pieces, the 13th studio long player from the Teutonic titans, feels like one such plunge into the sub-cellars of the memory, but it's not for lack of trying, and in this case, trying pretty damn hard.
Yes, In War and Pieces is ultimately an average thrash record, but it has a number of strengths that can't be argued. Tom Angelripper's vocals still sound vexed, as if he's still ready to set the world on fire at the drop of an incendiary. The production is eminent, one of the best or at least most accessible efforts in their entire career, and the songwriting is also quite diverse, with extended melodic passages that balance out the more direct, thrashing fare that returns to the 1987-89 period for inspiration. As a power trio, the band sound tight as you might expect from a persistent lineup since 1997, and Bernemann has a positive, thick tone to his playing which makes it difficult not to bang the head even at the most uninspiring patterns of notation. A few of these ragers: "Through Toxic Veins", "Nothing Counts More Than Blood", "Storm Raging Up" and "Stypic Parasite", kick some thorough ass, but there just too many that don't, despite the most violent of intentions.
"In War and Pieces", "Hellfire", "The Art of Killing Poetry" and the escalating thrash ballad "God Bless You" offer little more than forgettable riffs, and pieces like "Feigned Death Throes" tease us with something promising, then let us down gently, summoning only tortured nostalgia for the potential shown by the band's 2006 brain buster Sodom. In War and Pieces is as professional and driven as we could ever dream the Germans would remain after three decades, and it's in truth not a bad album, it just doesn't obliterate its target efficiently enough with the 47 minutes of focused artillery fire. There are no nuclear winters, agent oranges or volcanic sluts anywhere near the scene of this battle. If you're a Sodom die hard, of course, there is a bonus available in the limited edition that might tip your hand to your cash or credit card, and that's an additional live CD from the Wacken Open Air performance in 2007. It sounds pretty good, and the band include favorites like "Sodomy and Lust", "The Saw is the Law", "Ausgebombt" and "Outbreak of Evil", so even if you're reaction to the new material was limited like my own, there is that bit of incentive.