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Assault against the population - 92%

EzraBlumenfeld, April 11th, 2019

When looking at a list of the greatest metal albums of all time, it's almost certain that it will be dominated by thrash. Much of thrash is accessible to entry-level metalheads, and for many doesn't require the acquired taste of often-cheesy traditional heavy metal. Therefor, the importance of certain bands and albums are often overstated by the masses who don't know any better and assume that accessibility equals quality.

An album like Sodom's Agent Orange is a good example of an album that's far enough outside the reaches of the metal "mainstream" to be taken seriously as a legitimately great album. It's not heaped with exaggerated praise like Master of Puppets, but it certainly gets its fair share of (deserved) critical acclaim.

Agent Orange is very aggressive album. Lyrically, it deals authentically with the horrors of war. Musically, it provides an onslaught of sinister riffs and intense rhythms that act as the perfect vehicle for the subject matter. The songs are well-written, each one featuring clearly differentiating structural segments that make for a more interesting listen than it would if each track was just nonstop thrash. The most notable examples include the clean guitar break in "Tired and Red" and the crawling, near-doom first half of "Magic Dragon." "Ausgebombt" is like a more extreme Motörhead song with lyrics in German, and offers a break from the seriousness of the other tracks.

This is a very good sounding album too, especially considering that it came out in 1989. That of Agent Orange is what the perfect production for a thrash album sounds like, in my opinion: cleanly-executed guitar parts played through high-gain amps; drum levels that are theoretically flawed but assist the perception of the thrash genre as a primitive one; and incoherent, monotonic, barked vocals that are not over-the-top in harshness but are able to seem like a cool effect rather than the centerpiece of the band's sound.

Unfortunately, Agent Orange has some problems. "Remember the Fallen" features melodic vocals, which might not seem so bad if it weren't so poorly executed and boring. Additionally, there's a tremolo-picked guitar riff that seems to repeat in a nearly unchanged fashion between "Tired and Red," "Exhibition Bout," and "Baptism of Fire."

I must admit, I love Agent Orange. It's one of my favorite thrash albums of all time, no question about it. It's able to stand up among the very best in metal's most well-known genre, which is saying something. Seven out of eight songs on the album are phenomenal, and the remaining one is mostly just uninspiring. It's a great-sounding album, which is also a plus. I will always recommend Agent Orange to people wishing to begin their journey away from thrash and into the realm of extreme metal.

Best songs: All of them except "Remember the Fallen."