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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