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Sodom. It's been 5 years since their last album, the highly-accomplished "M-16". After the thrash assault that "M-16" was, it's gotten pretty silent around these 3 guys from Germany, until last summer, where rumors about a new albulm started to circulate around the internet.
I (and many fans for that matter) have been waiting for this album for quite some time and now, that I finally got my hands on it, I can say that...well, I'm disappointed.
The first notable weakness is already the album's production. Don't get me wrong, it's well balanced and everything can be heard well(except for the bass, I'll dig into that later) but the problem is the guitar tone. The high distortion level is quite irritiating and the guitar lacks the ballsy sound they had on their earlier albums.
Sadly, the guitars do not only lack a good sound, there are also not enough memorable riffs in here. There are a few very fast and riffladen tracks (the Slayer-inspired "City of God" and most parts of "Blood on Your Lips" come to mind) but the slower ones tend to drag on for too long, relying too much on a few lackluster powerchord-structures. There IS good riffage here and there, but I don't think it's a good thing when you have to dig through the rather large amount of mediocre riffs to find a few great ones.
Tom, why did you turn down the bass volume? He always had a great bass sound, it was very crushing and added quite a bit to Sodom's level of aggressiveness. Now it's only barely audible.
Tom's vocals? He's still capable of very aggressive thrash style vocals, but he rarely uses deeper vocal work anymore, which is a shame. A good comparison would be Destruction's Schmier, but Tom does not quite reach his level of skill. Remember how effective his growl was on Agent Orange and Tapping the Vein?
Well, they are gone. One more thing: Tom, please stop narrating/whispering. It doesn't suit your band. He especially does this towards the end of the album. It's a minor fault, but annoying nonetheless.
The drumming is typical Sodom, it's nothing exceptional, but it fits well.
There are some improvements after all: The band sounds tighter overall. Sodom were often accoused of being "too sloppy" for their own good and I can see why, but this time around, the musicianship has been improved a few notches. This is especially notable in the guitar work, the soloing is very good and the rhythm section is quite competent. If it wasn't for that grating guitar tone and the lack of killer riffage...
Well, enough complaining, buried under all these minor and major faults, there is still a good thrash album, just to remind us that Sodom are still around and kicking.
Still, f you're looking for a well-written, neckbreaking and memorable modern thrash album, you're better off with Destruction's "Inventor of Evil".
City of God
Lords of Depravity
Bibles and Guns