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Overrated but punishing - 85%

Iron Wizard, December 27th, 2017

Agent Orange is Sodom's third album, and possibly their most appreciated release. Persecution Mania was their first record to focus on militaristic topics as opposed to the macabre Bathory style Occultism of the debut and demos release prior. Agent Orange takes the belligerence to the absolute extreme. The album cover alone is enough to assert this. The realistic, yet cartoonish photo depicts the band's mascot standing in a plane with two guys. The first man can be seen operating gun that appears to be spraying agent orange onto the landscape below. The other dude wields an imposing physique and it looks like he's holding a controller of some kind. Without getting too far into the art (all of Sodom's album art is fucking great), let's go straight into the music.

First of all, I know I said that this is an overrated album. It is if we look at the rest of Sodom's discography. M16 fucking slays compared to this one, and Persecution Mania is probably better. The main thing that knocks this album down a bit is the filler. None of the songs quite qualify as filler, but some of the riffs don't do much for me. The black metal style riffing in "Tired and Red" for example is kind of boring and reminds me too much of other band's. The closer, "Don't Walk Away" is a Tank cover and it is middle of the road. I have no idea why they included something this out of place.

Now onto the standout bits. Most of the songs kick ass, but certain sections really blow me away. Such sections include the chorus of "Tired and Red", which kind of reminds me of Sodom's later material. Then we have the Tom Angelripper's confident Dave Mustaine imitation on the plodding "Remember the Fallen". Unlike the more barren, warlike songs on Agent Orange, this one sounds almost mainstream, reminding me of Metallica or Megadeth. This surprisingly does not cause a problem on this album. "Incest" is another fun one with it's memorable sound and sexy lyrics.

Now for the musical skills showcased here...I find it difficult to formulate thoughts. They play well together, in synch and everything, and the band's ability to rip through enjoyable riffs at extreme speeds is insane. There are some great solos as well, such as the one at the end of the somewhat socially conscious "Exhibition Bout". The one thing this album seems to lack is the use of more textured parts. There's a time and a place for soft music, and Sodom seem to understand where that shit belongs, but there is an acoustic section at the end of "Tired and Red" that I can't fucking stand. I'd rather have the militaristic machine gun drums and thick distorted guitars that this album uses very well assault me the whole time.

If one is coming from the realm of more accessible thrash like Metallica, then it would only make sense to get the impression the guys in Sodom take their lyrics seriously. This is not the case however. If you actually read the lyrics to the final track, you will understand that Sodom use brutally descriptive lyrics on Agent Orange to discourage rather than promote war. "No trade with death, no trade with arms".