REVIEW: SODOM – “Decision Day”
The popularity of thrash metal on a global scale is often accredited to the American scenes: East Coast (Anthrax, Overkill, Nuclear Assault), and the West Coast (Metallica, Slayer, Exodus, Death Angel and more), but the European continental movement in the genre sometimes gets forgotten. One of Europe’s most vital thrash bands, Sodom, is ready to release a new record in 2016, entitled Decision Day.
The album opens with ‘In Retribution’, which essentially is a standard up-tempo thrash track with elements that inspired bands such as Skeletonwitch and Behemoth, especially with the vocals. The speed of the song harkens back to the first two Kreator records as well. Up next is ‘Rolling Thunder’ with a distinctively different guitar tone and style, and a backing rhythm which definitely prioritizes a slower and more mid-tempo type of groove, which in turn makes the music sound even more heavier than it did before. Once again like with the opening track, the black metal sounding vocals are back in full force which only add positively to the atmosphere and the savageness of the music, which is obviously what you want in heavy thrash metal.
‘Decision Day’, the album’s title track, is how I envision a song on Seasons in the Abyss would sound when plugged through the musical violence of Teutonic thrash, with its prominence on the heavy guitar and the continuously pounding drums which carry this song from its beginning right to its very end. ‘Caligula’, meanwhile, immediately sets the tone with its bass-guitar intro before it throws itself right into the usual double bass drumming style of thrash which has become so popular since the genre’s inception in the very late 1970s and early 1980s. The vocal lines by which vocalist Tom Angelripper uses to spout his words of slaughter and mayhem in between the blasts of metal laid down by his band mates is also a positive for this song.
The fifth song on the album, entitled ‘Who is God?’ bears an intro perfect for the traditional “fist in the air” thing that is so common at metal concerts nowadays – the closest example is ‘Blacklist’ by Exodus. The only problem for me in terms of this track is that the vocals appear to have been mixed far louder than the instrumentation behind the barked growls, which is a little disappointing. The atmospheric sounds on this song are a welcome change, however. Following ‘Who is God?’ is the track ‘Strange Lost World’. Makka’s percussion section is on full display here before the traditional thrashy and ripping sound of the guitar makes themselves know. A really nice and impressive mid-tempo groove also adds to ‘Strange Lost World’ being one of the better songs on Decision Day. My only criticism is that the speed of the song could’ve been upped a bit because as it stands the rhythm is somewhat ploddy and dull.
‘Vaginal Born Evil’ marks the record’s seventh track, and ‘Belligerence’ the eighth. When I said that ‘Strange Lost World’ could have been a bit faster, ‘Vaginal Born Evil’ is exactly what I mean. Clearly reflects the deadly combination of heavy thrash and speed metal genre. ‘Belligerence’, meanwhile, has a certain melodic-death metal twist to its sound, particularly in the tone of the guitar that is used on this song. The vocal style seems to be more in sync with the drum track than the guitars, as the vocal lines speed up and slow down at the same time as when the drums quicken and reduce in tempo.
‘Blood Lions’ is up next with Angelripper’s vocal style harkens back to the early 80’s. ‘Sacred Warpath’ begins the record’s descent to its end, and it is a song some of you may know as the title track of the group’s 2014 EP, which consequently begs the question of why Sodom decided to include it on the album to begin with, instead of producing a brand new song to put in its place. ‘Refused to Die’ is the final song on Decision Day, and opens with a both unexpected and haunting voice which, in German, appears to be giving some sort of military command that ends just as the instrumentation of the song kicks into full throttle. It’s nice to hear an album where the last track is a full-blooded heavy metal song instead of a sombre, down-tempo piece of music specifically intended to conclude the album in an almost melancholic way.
It’s fair to say that the album is worth your attention, especially if you are a fan of thrash and German thrash in particular. All of the hallmarks of that particular form of metal are present: extreme metal vocals, shredding guitar and unrelenting double bass make for thrash which is far more savage than most of the bands hailing from North America. Decision Day comes out on August 26th 2016 via SPV GmbH – make sure you pick up a copy.