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Witching Metal is the first demo release from Sodom, spawned in 1982. This hellish recording took the aggression of Motörhead and evil approach of Venom to the next step. Though crude, the cover art represents the sound, perfectly. The line-up of Angelripper, Aggressor and Witchhunter were among the first to step into the raging fires of Hell and to make a blood oath to Satan, himself, vowing to visit the curse of black metal upon the mortal realm.
The sound quality is really shoddy, with everything coming together in a wall of noise. This is the sort of production obtained when the recorder is under a bed in the next room. However, if you listen very closely and allow your ears to tune out the hissing of the tape and to really focus, it starts to become clearer. Angelripper's vocals, though muffled, still convey a barbaric fury that someone like Tom Warrior failed to ever tap into. The guitar and bass blend together, partially due to the tone, but also because of the poor quality. During the lead solos, Aggressor's work manages to slice through the noise, sounding quite similar to the axemanship of Kerry King, of Slayer. Even Witchhunter's drumming is fairly decipherable, despite everything else.
The material is very primitive and straightforward. There is a raw and hellish feeling to this, with a malevolent wrath that even exceeds that of the mighty Venom. The drumming is fast-paced, helping to carry the songs at a break-neck speed. The riffing is monotonous, at times, mostly due the the piss-poor production concealing so much of what is going on. For much of the recording, the guitar and bass join together to create a sinister rumbling that is accompanied by Angelripper's possessed ravings. Aggressor's chaotic solo work adds to the atmosphere of Hell and damnation, so much that one can almost feel the flames. For whatever reason, "Witching Metal" is the only song on here that made it onto In the Sign of Evil, though all of the material is of the same quality. However, Grave Violator's playing style would not have suited the music as well, in all likelihood.
Sodom's Witching Metal demo is a hideous and menacing slab of old school black metal. This is for anyone that worships the early material from Venom, Bathory, Hellhammer, etc. It may be difficult to pick up on, at first, but it is worth the effort. Forget the keyboards, female vocals and photos depicting self-mutilation. This is real black metal.
Written for http://ritesoftheblackmoon.tripod.com
There is no doubt in my mind that this is the heaviest thing to come out by 1982. Yes, the same year that Venom released their legendary "Black Metal", Mercyful Fate had released "Melissa", and that was about all there was in 1982 in black metal. These releases pale in comparison to the amount of evil found in this musical content.
The most important part of this demo, are the vocals. I don't know if it's the production, but Angelripper's vocals sound just as harsh and throaty as many second wave black metal bands. There is a line where speed metal becomes black, and Sodom, in my opinion, crossed it with this demo. The guitars are very buzzsaw and trebly sounding if you listen closely. Much like Bathory's guitar tone on their debut two years later. Yes, this demo is very amateur sounding, and definitely out of tune. But does that really matter? It's early Sodom, and with early Sodom, you know what you are going to get. Early Sodom is an extremely primitive expression of thrash metal, mix in a little bit of blasphemy, and you have black metal; REAL black metal.
Bottom line: If you think that Hellhammer, Bathory, or Venom invented black metal single handedly, give this demo a listen. All black metal fans should experience such an early representation of their genre. What you hear might surprise you.
"The sin of Sodom is in the sign of evil."
Sodom, known by many as one of the greatest thrash bands ever. I don't deny any claims like that, but you wouldnt say that from this.
The demo sounds like a Slayer and Venom spawn. This isn't really a bad thing in some cases, or if used in a good way, but for this, it is. The instrumental work of Witching Metal is pretty good, if you could hear it. The vocals, sorry to say, suck. Although I am a fan of Venom-esque thrash, this displeases me, alot. It's hard to hear the drumming, and you cant really tell the difference between any riffs, except when they go from typical thrash, to Slayer-like thrash.
This onslaught of horrible production is a perfect example of what NOT to do with your demo. These guys have great talent, even this early in their career, but you can't tell. The atmosphere reminds me of a garage band, playing in their, what else, garage. The slight echo effect is really annoying, too.
Overall, Sodom's first demo earns 6/10, 60%. Don't try this if production matters. I do recommend it for a collection, however. The songs are all remade with better production on their next demo, Victims of Death. So if you MUST have these songs, but don't want the horrid production, just get Victims of Death.
I think many people would agree that while, yes, Sodom are one of the most influential thrash metal bands of the 80s, many of their releases have very poor production. Victims of Death, In the Sign of Evil, Obsessed by Cruelty, all of these releases have at least one thing in common: They have decent to almost unlistenable quality. This release is no different. Actually, this release has the worst production of all of them! Drums are too quiet, guitars are pretty much just static, the vocals are almost completely silent and sound incoherent (thanks to the echo effect).
This is a short demo, and I'd only recommend this to fans who want to complete their collection or own a part of history. This demo is very cool historical wise, but the production is just so shitty. I'd recommend In the Sign of Evil for beginners, or Victims of Death which is a much better demo than this.