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"Ranch Hand" on metal frontlines - 100%

Andrey_Karr, April 15th, 2014

Sodom. “Agent Orange”. 1989. Steamhammer. Bundesrepublik Deutschland.

It seems there is just nothing left to add as so much praise has been dedicated to this piece of art. I also belong to the camp that sees Agent Orange as Sodoms’s best and to be honest I simply cannot even think of a single argument against this CD - it is pure perfection and below I briefly summarize why it may be the case.

You rarely find an album that is not conceptual, yet is perceived as one. Agent Orange is a metal movie, short and extremely cohesive in both musical and lyrical aspects. It repeats the phenomenon of Reign in Blood from the fellow Californian thrashers. Fast tempos, catchy riffs of 4-minute songs, and the discourse unity of lyrics make you watch a coherent movie in your head while listening to the CD. Sodom finally found themselves in Agent Orange and this was their first release where 100% of the material was anti-war discourse. In the end, it never gets boring to load a CD in a stereo as you just want to listen/watch your less than 40-minute long movie again and again.

The album boasted crystal clear production. I would even say they topped Persecution Mania with this one, and the latter was flawless. I admire the first three Sodoms and it is always fascinating to compare them – absolutely different albums in all respects – knowing that it was still the same band and still the same guys from the mines of Gelsenkirchen. Though Sodom’s sound palette and playing patterns evolved with this one, Agent... was not as fast, bold, and straightforward as the two previous studio releases and it featured several instances of broken rhythms ideally interwoven in songs’ structures.

Sodom peaked with Agent Orange and they never topped it afterwards. There was some age magic involved there. You know, it is like the recording was done during those years, when they were still young to burn, but already too experienced to figure out how to put out the best of themselves. In this particular case, it reminds me of Rust in Peace by Megadeth to some extent.

Symbolically, this CD, dedicated to war victims in all the world and titled after a chemical weapon used in the Vietnam War against the backed by the USSR natives, was released just several months prior to the fall of Berlin Wall, the end of communist era in DDR and unification of Germany. Agent Orange symbolically hit again. In another war, the Cold one, but back then it hit with the power of words and played its role to some extent in putting an end to the conflict and not in stirring it up.

“Spielt nicht mit dem Tod Der Krieg ist nicht mehr weit Vernichtet eure Waffen Lernt aus der Vergangenheit“.