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There are few albums in metaldom that are such violent fun as Stormtroopers of Death's seminal Speak English Or Die. This is crossover at its finest with all the key ingredients merged into one awesome little thrashy soup.
As is to be expected from a hardcore-thrash hybrid the music is simple. Big fat groovy riffs compete with ridiculously fast sections to create a fun and moshy experience. There are no real solos either but then solos would not really fit into this sort of music.
As to be expected Benante's drumming is top notch and completely unrestrained compared to his work in Anthrax. Liker and Ian are in their natural element as well.
The songs generally stand out with a fair bit of variation between them. Sometimes the groovy riffs do merge into one another but this does not detract from the album. Overall song length is extremely short with some being mere blasts lasting a couple of seconds.
Production is simple but effective. After all it was apparently recorded in three days! But then one doesn't listen to 1980s crossover if they want to listen to something that is well produced.
Vocally this is Billy Milano's finest performance and one he would never replicate again either on later Stormtroopers of Death releases or his own band, Method Of Destruction. His hardcore growls sound authentically pissed off, spewing out ridiculous lyrics often at breakneck speeds.
The lyrics themselves are highly amusing. They are nearly all universally offensive with topics ranging from immigration ("Speak English or Die") to international politics ("Fuck The Middle East") to women's menstruation cycles (the hilarious "Pre-Menstrual Princess Blues") to running out of milk ("Milk"). They should not be taken seriously. Indeed one of the key elements of crossover was often politically incorrect yet humorous lyrics designed to offend those who came across them.
In many ways Speak English or Die encapsulates the raw and volatile excitement of the early thrash movement. It also takes us back to a time when metal did not take itself too seriously. Whilst this might not appeal to more serious minded metallers, for the rest of us this is as good as it gets when it comes to a thrashtastic good time.
What happens when a soon to be influential thrash metal band finishes recording their second album and they have spare studio time? Simple! The guitarist and drummer get together with their former bassist and charismatic vocalist Billy Milano, and they record this!
This album is full of unforgivingly offensive and brutal hardcore punk/thrash tunes. As soon as the album begins and you hear those menacing riffs, you know that this band is no Anthrax. They're far meaner, and much angrier. Milano holds nothing back when he rages, whether it's him telling you to kill yourself or to die if you don't speak English. Racist? Quite so. Offensive? Perhaps if you're more on the sensitive side, in which case, this album isn't for you. The band want to piss you off on purpose. If you're offended, it's a good thing. If you're not offended and enjoy their music, that's also good.
The band are straight to the point with their messages. Most songs are 1-2 minutes long or even shorter. For example, the "Anti Procrastination Song" does exactly what it says on the tin: it's a mere 5 seconds long. "Fuck the Middle East" is a 25 second long beast with rapid fire vocal delivery, listing those pesky Middle Eastern countries Milano thinks we should be rid of. The last 3 songs on the album are are less than 10 seconds long each, including the cruel but humorous "Ballad of Jimi Hendrix", starting out playing a riff of "Purple Haze" before announcing that "You're dead!". Well, at least it's accurate.
Not to forget the songs in which Milano boasts about being more hardcore than you ("Milano Mosh") and condemns you for, say, fist banging at a metal concert ("Fist Banging Mania") or for choosing your lover over your friends ("Pussy Whipped"). There's a good chance he'll rage about something that'll hit close to home for you, the listener.
But hey, it's not all offensive! "Milk" is a song about running out of milk and having to cope with it until your mother buys more. That's pretty much it. There are no real threats or any strong language or any prejudice towards a group of people. Just a heavy song about the frustrations of a lack of milk.
In just under 30 minutes, the band play a string of fast, heavy hardcore jams whilst Milano screams and shouts about a large variety of stuff. Some of it will make you laugh, while some of it may make you cry. Other parts fall a little flat. But generally, it will make you want to mosh. But only if you can do the Milano Mosh...
Stormtroopers Of Death are a sort of super group with members from legendary bands such as Anthrax that just wanted to have some fun and created a short and entertaining record around a strange character called Sergeant D. who hates pretty much everything. Just take a look on the hilarious cover artwork by guitarist Scott Ian. The record has the vibe of a party album with many hilarious lyrics such as in the engaging title track "Speak English Or Die" that portrays a special view on immigration coming from a closed minded racist, in the amusingly chaotic interlude "What's That Noise" or in "Pre-Menstrual Princess Blues" which is a parody of a young female teen in her starting puberty. Just the titles of the tracks are quite amusing when we take a look on "Pussy Whipped", "Fuck The Middle East" or an "extended" version of "Diamonds And Rust" that lasts for exactly four seconds.
So far, so good, so funny. I don't want to seem severe or boring and know that the project doesn't take itself very serious but there is nevertheless the musical side of this album. From that point of view, the record is a huge letdown. The vocals are horribly weak and exchangeable. The guitar riffs are one dimensional all the time. The best thing from a musical point of view is the solid and diversified bass play and the precise drumming. The song structures and lengths are all quite alike and the record only focuses on its nasty lyrics. Musically, we have a mixture of hardcore punk with some thrash and speed metal bits which may have been a rather original crossover fusion back in the time but after three tracks, everything sounds the same and the experiment isn't quite interesting to observe anymore as everything has already happened. The band is composed by excellent musicians that could have added a little bit more into the band's sound in my opinion. As it is, I know a lot of hardcore punk bands from the early eighties that have been there before as they sound quite similar and even better than this at some points and maybe this formation wanted to pay a tribute to them or introduce some metal fans to this genre. As we can see from the number of reviews and the record’s reputation, these guys have succeeded and were right to feel free to do whatever they wanted to on this piece of musical freedom that takes no prisoners.
As is it is right now, this record is a party album for punks and metal heads after a couple of beers and has a cult status for its nasty attitude, its straight simplicity and its weird lyrics. It's an album one should have listened to once in a lifetime but nothing you would like to listen to more than only once in a while when the moment has come to lose yourself in a pitiless mosh pit. That's what this courageous album was made for and it's definitely effective from that point of view and that's why it still merits a solid rating. As the whole thing gets though quite redundant in its short running time, this record won't get an excellent note from me, though and my final verdict seems rather neutral. In the end, I give you an advice: You're definitely better off to be in a hilarious mood, accompanied by some wild friends and you should also switch your brain off to fully enjoy this record.
There’s a time and place for everything, and it sure as hell isn’t college, unless it’s the sick and utterly kickass one that Sergeant D and his minions graduated from. With such noteworthy courses as dismemberment 101, tasteless humor lab, and piss off feminists workshop, one can’t help but bang his head in utter euphoria at how this album earns its B.S. for its pithy and blunt approach to pointing out society’s obsession with B.S. There are no extended audits here, nor any 3 hour seminars to fall asleep in, just the finest classes in the fine art of thrash riffing and ugly, angst-ridden attitude that enlightens like an esoteric monastic session, but with the brevity of Cliff’s Notes.
Okay, maybe I’m reaching a little bit with all these fruity metaphors, but this is literally the most intense fit of neck-wrecking, knee-slapping, hardcore experiences out there in a 28 minute package, and from an auspicious year like 1985 no less. Between the heavy as a tank guitar tone, the obnoxiously loud and ballsy bass, Milano’s alcoholic wife-beater shouts, and the colossal as hell drum assault out of Benante, this whole album takes everyone’s stereotypical idea of thrash metal and hardcore and literally relieves itself on it. There’s no beating around the bush, no screwing around with repetition or development, just the most compacted and concentrated brass-knuckle sandwich to the face in 3 riffs or less that you’ll find on the east side of the metal nation.
While one might be tempted to write this off as a few gimmicky joke songs mixed in with the same song played a dozen times, this is something that is usually done by people that get too hung up on how many riffs can be jammed into 8 minutes of thrashing. But in spite of these guys not being Dark Angel, they deliver a similar level of intensity in a much more basic passage. When taking the formulaic approach of slow park with a crunchy riff for a verse, followed by a hyper speed second for the chorus, then out, or repeating the previous step and then out, it is better to look at it as a primitive formula meant for a very specific purpose, which is to provide a basic foundation for the lyrics to make their point. Once this happens, it becomes much easier to laugh your ass off at all the zaniness found on “Speak English Or Die”, “Pre-Menstrual Princess Blues” and “Fuck The Middle East”.
Occasionally the album deviates away from the utterly predictable format and takes time to either concentrate completely on laughs, or throw a few curveballs at the listener. “What’s The Noise” is an all out laugh fest as Milano loses his cool and cusses everyone out after repeated tape scratching sounds, all but redefining the concept of studio antics in a time where we thankfully weren’t subject to the gay version of it that Limp Bizkit would subject us to, which they likely stole from here. One can’t also help but laugh hysterically at S.O.D. paying their 6 second homage to a guitar legend in “Ballad Of Jimi Hendrix” by reminding him that he’s dead. But perhaps the true kicker here is the ending of “United Forces” where Scott and Charlie actually take the last 15 seconds to give a lead guitar nod to Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman in a comical fashion by exaggerating both of their respective styles (think lots of runs for Hanneman and lots of whammy bar noise for King).
As someone who is not necessarily partial to hardcore mixing with metal, I can say with complete confidence that only someone with brain damage or no sense of humor to speak of (aka politically correct pansies in public office or their dominatrix wives) would be without this album. It might not be something that will demand ritualistic listening unless one is partial to the simpler elements of crossover, but everybody should hear this album a few times as it is about as accessible as punk can get for someone who is strictly of the metallic persuasion. For an album that came about because a bunch of New York thrashers got bored, it’s something that can easily be labeled as classic, not to mention a hilariously amusing collection of intentionally offensive jests.
Originally submitted to (www.metal-observer.com) on January 15, 2011.
Stormtroopers of Death (AKA S.O.D.) are a crossover band that was originally developed as a side project by Scott Ian of Anthrax who wanted to play around with a more crossover sound. They released one of the funnest crossover records ever in 1985 titled "Speak English Or Die", it is also regarded as one of the first.
If there is one thing that is well known about S.O.D. it is their politically incorrect lyrical themes, hence the title of the album for instance "Speak English Or Die". The lyrics on the album aren't meant to be taken seriously, and for the most part they are pretty funny. Former Anthrax roadie Milano belts them out with a ferocious amount of confidence. His voice is great for the style of music played throughout the record, it has a very rough quality. In the course of the record they never stray too far away from the crossover sound, but with how fun the music plays out to be it is very hard to get bored during the fairly short running time of the album. The majority of the songs on the album are extremely catchy, a very good example of this would be "Milano Mosh" on paper the lyrics seem like they wouldn't come off as catchy but the tone in Milano's mega, manly voice can make nearly anything catchy. The riffs also play a large part in the catchiness of the record.
One of the only complaints I have about the album is the fact that most of the songs are barely over of under a minute. It seems like just when each song is falling into a groove it switches to the next, this can get a little frustrating. Even with this problem Speak English Or Die still has great replay value from beginning to end. "Freddy Krueger" has the longest playtime on the album coming in at 2:32. The song consists of some very catchy riffing, but is one of the weaker songs on the album. The shorter songs are best to be looked at as skits, when they pop on prepare to laugh. "The Ballad of Jimi Hendrix" is hilarious, the guitarist plays the first three seconds of "Purple Haze" then Milano just yells "You're dead" with such a tone that words cannot describe.
While the short songs are funny the record as a whole can still be appreciated as music it isn't just a funny record that one would forget about after one listen, S.O.D. will have you coming back for more, whether it be due to Milano's great delivery or Scott Ian and companies. Thrash influenced grooves. "Milk" starts out very sludgy which is a nice change of pace, but then it suddenly erupts into the fastest song on the record, it's moments like these that make this album worthwhile, it is evident that the band wasn't trying to impress a certain group and they weren't afraid to take chances regardless of whether the album was a joke or not.
Despite all of the lightheartedness the record shows, do not be detoured it is still very crushing and heavy, just not in the typical "I'm gonna slit yer guts" kind of way. If you have no sense of humor though don't get Speak English Or Die, you'll only be offended. It's a shame that people overlook this due to album and song titles, because it truly is a piece of heavy metal history same goes for hardcore. To anyone looking to get into crossover this is one of the best places to start. If you're a fan of crossover and you haven't heard Speak English Or Die consider this your swift kick in the ass to get on it.
They're small..... and they don't give a SHIT!
If Stormtroopers of Death has anything metal should have, it's the attitude. It's kind of a punk rock attitude mixed almost 50/50 with the thrash metal ideals of the time (beer + fast + more beer = thrashTASTIC!). And with that fuck-the-world mentality flowing through the veins of an early incarnation of Anthrax, S.O.D. was born. From what I understand, Speak English or Die ranks as one of the first crossover thrash records ever recorded, so it obviously has history on it's side, but unfortunately the tendency to have fun gets in the way of the actual songwriting.
Before I get lambasted for bitching about a band trying to have fun, I'd like to point out that no matter what, the music is always the most important part. If the music is fun, that's great, but if it comes off as little more than a poorly written joke, it gets in the way of the enjoyment of the album. Children of Bodom is a prime offender of this, constantly covering non metal songs purely for laughs, not because they might actually sound good or show influence or anything, purely for shiggles. I really don't care if it was the band's intention to just make a stupidly fun record, because if I were to rate music based on if it sounds like what the band wanted it to sound like, everything would have a perfect score! So musically, this album earns exemplary marks for a few excellent thrashers, but far too much goofing off for it's own good.
Songs like Chromatic Death, Speak English or Die, Kill Yourself, and Sargent D and the S.O.D. are thrash monsters worthy of anybody's ears, and if the entire record was as focused musically as these few, it'd be a near perfect album. Unfortunately, the band takes their humorous lyrical approach a bit too seriously at times and churn out worthless time wasters like Hey Gordy!, What's that Noise?, Diamonds and Rust (Extended Version), and Anti Procrastination Song. I'll admit, I think The Ballad of Jimi Hendrix is funny as hell, but it's a complete waste otherwise. The band can't seem if they are in the studio for some lighthearted fun or thrashing listeners' balls off. Some songs (Milk, Pre Menstrual Princess Blues, Speak English or Die) actually do a really good job of intertwining the goofy lyrics and the intense music. When they get it right, they really get it right. Scott Ian riffs just as well as he did with Anthrax at the time, Charlie Benante is still one of my favorite drummers of all time, Dan Lilker is solid as usual, and Billy Milano has a perfect crossover shout. The main reason the album doesn't score higher is because of the wasteful throwaways that litter an otherwise intense and high energy thrash record.
But, as I previously said, this album does fulfill the purpose it sets out to do, and that is make a record that is not only intense, but also a lot of fun. I know I said I shouldn't base a score of something like that, but in the end, the album is highly enjoyable, which is all that really matters, so I lied, the album earns a B+ on the the whole. The joke songs are indeed annoying and flow breaking, but there are a lot less than I may have made it seem. On the whole, it's a fun album, but don't go in looking for anything thought provoking.
FIST BANGING MANIA!
In the case of “Speak English or Die ” I would be so emotionally attached to this album musically and the relevance from a historical point of view that I’m obliged to say “If you don’t get it, you shan’t be allowed to review it”. Yes, I’ve always been a dictator really. Maybe that’s what I love so much about Sargent ‘D’.
Winston Churchill once said “The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter”. And I’d say: The best argument against newbies reviewing classic metal albums is having a look on Metal Archives dot com.
During the nineties metal seems to have lost its sense of humour. When did metal get this seriousness-dogma? The nineties, the worst years in metal in the eyes of most. Also in mine by the way. Man was I pissed off when I saw this album had an average of ‘only’ 79 points sofar. I really wanted to kill some people. I don’t review albums by Britney Spears simply because I don’t get that music. So if you don’t get S.O.D., just shut the fuck up. You weren’t there. You don’t know shit, you grew up in a different scene, different time. But then again. What the hell. I’ll just write a review and try to do something about the average.
What makes this album genius is the fact that what started out as a little in-between joke turned out to be an immensely influential eighties milestone. Therefore this album crushes everything that was intended to be serious but failed to have an impact looking back these years. We can look back now and say Scott Ian and Charlie Benante are far from the gods they once were but in those days they were two of the tightest thrashers around and Scott Ian in that period did not only write most on the Anthrax classic “Spreading The Disease” but also managed to write most of this classic album together with Dan Lilker. Really a creative period that was for him.
S.O.D. played real crossover even before D.R.I. did. They were still in their “Dealing With It” punk phase. Suicidal Tendencies? That band was still three years away from their first real crossover record “How Will I Laugh Tomorrow”. S.O.D. were pratically avant la lettre. And it was the metal background that made this album sound so bloody heavy and tight. If “Speak English Or Die” would have featured a punk guitarist and punk drummer performing the same songs, I am convinced it would not have made such an impact.
Opener “March Of The S.O.D.” is based around a cathcy as hell riff and nicely proceeds into the trademark song “Sargent 'D' & The S.O.D”. Also songs such as “Kill Yourself”, “Speak English Or Die”, “Freddy Krueger”, “Pussy Whipped” and “Fist Banging Mania” were somewhat longer crossover tunes with regular changes in pace, enough variety in riffing and catchy chorusses.
Of course there were some short tunes (“Anti-Procrastination Song”, “What’s That Noise”, “Hey Gordy”, “Ballad Of Jimi Hendrix” and “Diamonds and Rust”) that can almost not be called songs at all but short eruptions of noisy humor. This kind of material was logical after their Crab Society North demo which featured mostly grinding noise. I always enjoyed these kind of songs. The differences can be found in the tiniest details.
It was the material that balanced between the earlier mentioned longer songs and these short funny eruptions which made the album sound logical as a whole. “Milano Mosh”, “Pi Alpha Nu”, “Milk”, "Chromatic Death" and “Fuck The Middle East” are funny as well as having some great musical ideas.
As said, the performace is outstanding. Charlie rages like an animal. Dan abuses his bassguitar but manages to incorporate some nice breaks to stand out. Scott is tight even when he rages through his riffs and Billy..... Billy's just an angry boy with a sense of humor, some great lyrics and a quite characteristic voice. The production is comparible to Anthrax’ “Spreading The Disease” (especially the guitar sound) since this album was recorded in the same studio in the same period yet recorded and mixed a lot quicker.
Ah, the lyrics. A large amount written from the perspective of the immaginary figure Sargent ‘D’. Right wing, racist and tyrannical. Sheer fun! The lyrics to the fast and groovy fraternity song “Pi Alpha Nu” and one of the fastest songs on the album, “Milk”, stand out a bit and retrospectively feel like the songs Billy would later write for his own band M.O.D.
This album is way up there with the crossover masterpieces “How Will I Laugh Tomorrow” (Suicidal Tendencies), “Crossover” (D.R.I.), “Retaliation (Carnivore), “Biermacht” (Wehrmacht) and “You Got It” (Gang Green) and maybe, just maybe, it’s even actually better than any of them. The simplicity and catchiness of most riff that can be found here really is an eye opener. This makes these songs still stand firm after all these years. A trendsetting album. A milestone in metal and crossover history. And to think it was only a joke…
Then don't bother buying this album. At the forefront of the burgeoning crossover scene, founded by the likes of hardcore stalwarts DRI and COC, the Stormtroopers of Death opted for a slightly different route than their more politically-minded brethren. While their riffage was true and their attitude fierce, their lyrics took the happy-go-lucky spirit of their punk predecessors a few steps too far, gaining them a surprising degree of infamy. Lauded by fans that could relate to their inherent silliness and criticized for their immaturity and their lack of song development, the verdict is still pretty divided on these guys. But while I'm certainly not going to place this on a pedestal with the greatest thrash albums of this period, I can still appreciate what SOD delivered on here: a fun, lighthearted (but really fucking heavy) romp of randomness and riffs.
The musical aspect of the band is pretty much unquestionably kickass. Backed by the furious drumming of Charlie Benante (of Anthrax, of course) and the fast, crass basslines of Danny Lilker (Nuclear Assault, formerly of Anthrax) while being propelled forward by the unusually unfettered speed riffing of Scott Ian (also of Anthrax), Speak English or Die rages from song to song. Admittedly, while this provides for some mindless, ultra-headbangable fun, it's the source of a lot of criticism against the band. The songs are fast and short, but without the well-defined boundaries of say...DRI or Nuclear Assault's output. But this is purposeful: the album isn't meant to be taken seriously, remember? Ignore all the short joke tracks ("Anti-Procrastination Song," "What's That Noise," among others) and there's some quality songwriting to be found. "Milk" is really fucking fast, but it's well-written. "Sergeant D and the SOD," "Milano Mosh," "Pussy Whipped," "Freddy Krueger," and "Fist Banging Mania" all follow suit, composed of solid riffage, crazy drumming, and memorable lyrics.
And at the end of the day, the lyrics on here really do tend to be more memorable than the riffs, simply because of how impulsive they are. It's like all the lyrics were written at the spur of the moment, about whatever Billy Milano and the boys felt like at the time. Milano's delivery is typical of hardcore bands at the time (read: shouting), but the lyrics are of uncommon hilarity. And again, SOD comes under fire for being offensive and immature. Sure, Milano lacks Kurt Brecht's ear for scathing social satire, but it's not the fucking point. This is random, this is crude, this is irreverent: this is art.
But this is not high-class art. This is every pissed-off kid's primal thoughts blasted at 250 bpm. Well, maybe not every kid's thoughts, but definitely one big kid named Milano's. Don't take it seriously, it's not meant to be anything more than heavy, fast, and funny. And that's most certainly what it is.
Sometime around 1985 Scott and Charlie from Anthrax decided to get together with roadie Billy Milano and bassist Dan Lilker (Nuclear Assault). The result was a more pumped up Anthrax/weird crossover sound with one hell of a sense of humor. After one demo (recorded on a walkman) they recorded Speak English or Die in Anthrax’s studio. The album was filled with 1-2:30 minute thrashers and plenty of few second moments of hilarity. This strange arrangement was very original, sported by just a few bands including early Nuclear Assault. The sound had a surprising turnout with a ton of fans loving it (probably because of lack of attention span). The only problem was that some hardcore thrash fans took the album a little too seriously and discarded the band.
All of the songs are good to thrash fans but there are several highlights among this massive 21 song set.
March of the SOD/ Sergeant D & and the SOD start things off with a bang with that simple yet effective riff. It pummels along like a march until Sergeant D comes up fast and evil to kick your ass. It goes from the midtempo verse to that KICKASS fast riffage for the chorus. Yes, S.O.D. can thrash. Sergeant D is coming… and you’re on his list! The album is full of infectious chorus’. Catchy chorus’s is something S.O.D. does, and they do it well. Midpaced drums open up Milano Mosh which is a highlight. It uses the mosh effective “stomp” verses/chorus. Milano does a very good job on vocals throughout the album, belting out high pitched screams to intimidating hardcore styled vocals to those vicious vocals like in the title track. The title track is one of the few track that seem like actual songs which is very good. There are some cool bass fills throughout the song as well. SPEAK ENGLISH OR…. DIE!!!!!!!!
United Forces has a nice little solo. Scott is of course on top of things as always. Holy shit, Chromatic Death must be the best 43 second song I’ve ever heard. That opening guitar riff, sort of similar to Megadeth’s Rattlehead is fucking brutal. It thrashes everything in site but before your 4th headbang it’s over. Anti-Procrastination Song is 6 seconds that’s funny as hell. What’s That Noise is another very funny track. It’s a bunch of static over Billy going insane and the band playing the same shit over and over again. Freddy Krueger sounds like a pumped up Anthrax song and is the longest song on here clocking in at 2:33.
Milk is the best fucking song on the album and opens with a completely evil bass riff and Billy doing… a death metal growl? Nothing is more hilarious than evil thrash music and a wonderful chorus, than all that with lyrics about being to lazy to get milk. This is so damn catchy it’s a shame it wasn’t made into a full song. Pussy Whipped is another example of a potential wonderful thrash song. The opening riff actually sounds something similar to Kreator. Fist Banging Mania is a showcase of Milano ability to fucking spit the vocals out like bullets. Fuck the Middle East is a 20 second slab of gutbusting metal along with a side of lyrical content that promises to offend.
The last three infamous tracks are great. BLEARG! The Ballad of Jimi Hendrix cracks me up more than anything.
I guess this album could be hit or miss for a lot of people. Fans of Vio-lence, Overkill, and Anthrax will probably think it’s good-awesome. Death/Black/Doom metal elitist’s will beg to differ. An album that this can be easily compared to is the equally entertaining, Game Over/ The Plauge by Nuclear Assault. So if you enjoy something along those lines check that out, or vice versa.
Also if you happen to get a version with two bonus tracks, Go is better than anything on the original!
This was quite possibly the first ever example of hardcore "crossover" that I heard back in the day: my college radio metal show of choice (WERS-88.9FM's "Nasty Habits", a show that got me into soooo many classic bands) spotlighted this album as its "Nasty Album of the NIght" and I will never forget DJ Mike Jones declaring this album "BRUTAL". Lo and behold, it was and still is to this day!
We all know about how S.O.D. got together, yaddada yaddada, so let's us concentrate on the music. And what hella powerful music this is! "March Of The S.O.D." is one of the most ominous and evil-sounding instrumentals ever laid to wax with its powerful unison riffing--once it starts, you know you're in trouble! Attitude to spare, and followup, "Sergeant D and the S.O.D.", sets the tone with its extremely antisocial and violent lyrics. That's the thing about this album that pissed off so many folks, the fact that Scott Ian just LET IT ALL HANG OUT and damn the torpedoes. And so many took it far too seriously--how can you take lyrics like this seriously at all? I can't, and still laugh my ass off at them.
The micro tunes like "The Ballad of Jimi Hendrix", "Hey Gordy", and "Diamonds and Rust" are throwaways, so I disregard them, hence the points deleted. But "Milk", with its scary-ass bass intro (Lilker has the bass tone of DEATH on this album) and blast beats on the verses makes up for that along with the frantic title track (Billy Milano lets out a really irate scream of "Speak! English! Or...DIIIIIEEEEEEEEE!!!!!" at the end!), and "United Forces" with its repetitive riff and blazing thrash ending. Alex Perialas' production job is excellent considering that this was bashed out in about three days, and the band is tight, with a great natural, sounding mix. Perialas really knew his stuff--Carnivore's "Retaliation" comes to mind as another good 'un he produced--Scott's guitar is like a chainsaw, with Danny's eeeevil grinding bass backing it up in spades, and the drum sound is perfect for this band's approach.
This deserves to be in any self-respecting metaller's collection for a good laugh if nothing else--and a sense of (crude, sometimes downright lowbrow)humor is required to enjoy this album to the fullest. Of course, you can always disregard the lyrics and just thrash out to the berserk mania exploding from your speakers, which works just fine for me!
This is the one and only big classic in S.O.D´s long short lived carrer and marked the first time Sargent D came to terrorize the thrash world.... These freaks that got together in 85 and hanged out for about seven gigs after the recording of this gem (and eventually regrouped fourteen years later, but that´s another story...) are Scott Ian and Charlie Benante from thrashers Anthrax, Billy Milano from M.O.D and Dan Lilker from Nuclear Assault, the true pionners of the "Speed laughing thrash" style...
These fellas really assured the quality of this album that´s kind of a "more thrashy and fueled up Anthrax", and they just make me laugh myself off everytime i listen to those lyrics...
It has three particular sections that can be divided by the following: The "Bang my head off until it hurts" section, the " Laughing ´till fall on the floor" section and the "Anthrax´s lost riffage and forget about it" section...
The first three songs of this album are part of the first section and are some good speed/thrash classics, starting with the dark and really heavy " March of the S.O.D" going through their anthem, "Sargent D and the S.O.D" and advancing to a anti- suicide song properly entitled "Kill Yourself"...
The parade continues with the mosh hymn "Milano Mosh", being followed by the most anti-immigrant song i´ve ever heard, "Speak English or Die" and next by the 40 sec brutal "Chromatic Death" Instrumental.
After "United Forces" and " Pi Alpha Nu" comes a drunken recording session where Billy freaks out completely with the band´s producer Alex Perialas while being constantly mocked by the other band members that just won´t start the fuckin' song...
Then, with the exception of "Milk" and "Pre Menstrual Princess Blues" the album enters in the "...forget about it" section with some preety boring numbers like "Pussy Whipped", Fist Banging Mania" or "Fuck the Middle East", that altough not being some bad numbers just don´t catch the feeling of the first songs and we start to think that from this point the album is in downhill, but...
Finally comes the "Laughing 'till fall on the floor" section with one of the longest ballads i´ve ever heard a thrash band playin'. "The Ballad of Jimi Hendrix" starts off with the introduction of Hendrix's "Purple Haze" and finishes with a killer "YOU´RE DEAD" before the song even gets started, being followed by their amazing 2 sec version of Priest's classic "Diamonds and Rust"...Just heavy fuckin' hilarious...
This is a good album, and i think that every speed/thrash maniacs could eventually try to grab this album but, although being very heavy and somewhat funny, those middle section songs just don´t make it enough to consider this an "essential" record. Anthrax fans are the ones that definetively should own this one.