Saturday, May 28

Sodom - In War And Pieces

In War And Pieces

After a dip in the late 90s, thrash is back and Teutonic titans Sodom are here to lead the way. One of the original “Big German Three” along with Kreator and Destruction, power-trio Sodom have evolved their sound from the earlier blackened thrash, through a punk feel to a more melodic sound. In War And Pieces, their 13th release in 30 years, is an effective summary of both new and old, and bound to attract new attention as well as recapture the diehards.

Simply put, Bernemann owns this record. His solos are fantastic and well-suited to the meaty riffs, even when changing tempo, such as in “Storm Raging Up”. Schottkowski destroys the kit, especially on “Hellfire” and “Knarrenheinz”, their nod to their earlier faster material. Angelripper's bass provides a complementing rhythm section during those headbanger moments, of which there are plenty. Later in the album, there is an echo of Necrophobic, like in the chorus of “Soul Contraband”, before the album closes with the infectious mid-paced “Styptic Parasite”. The band fly their veteran colors, demonstrating the ability to write material that can be easily translated to a live environment, leaving behind many sore necks. 

Sodom fans will be pleased to hear that Angelripper has not lost his voice, and his Araya-esque voice sounds harsh as ever on this release, even letting out some impressive growls and a blackened feel. His lyrics vary in quality, unfortunately weakened by his pronunciation such as on “Feigned Death Throes”. There are echoes of their “Napalm In The Morning”/“M-16” war past on “Nothing Counts More Than Blood” with the line “Dead bodies served as rifle rest/and protection when the bullets blast”. He even shows a sense of humor with “I'm saddle-sore through my ride of gore”. However, he really comes into his own on “Knarrenheinz”, dedicated to their gasmask-clad mascot, spitting an impressively fast vocal over pounding skins and blazing guitars. 

Aside from a couple of lyrical points, the main issues I take with In War And Pieces are when the band try too hard for variety: the acoustic intro of “God Bless You” and the vocal effects on “Through Toxic Veins” in particular. This sort of experimentation does not add to the music, and could have been left out.

In short, however, this is a brilliant thrash release, and one of the stronger of Sodom's discography. Fans of Slayer, Kreator et al should definitely pick this up, along with anybody who has an interest in the genre, as a reaffirmation that thrash is not dead.
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Rating: 4.5/5

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