Genre: Thrash metal
Full length: 40 Years at War: The Greatest Hell of Sodom
Format: LP, colored vinyl, CD, digipack CD, box set
Label: Napalm Records
Release date: October 28, 2022
I’ve always considered Sodom my preferred band of the “big four” of German thrash metal (with Destruction, Kreator and Tankard) although this wasn't always the case.
The very first time I heard “In the Sign of Evil”, I thought they were a noise band with zero talent. Since they weren't exactly the tightest band in the bunch, I can't entirely be faulted. Nevertheless, something about it kept me coming back; it grew on me and before long I was a huge fan.
As I listen to this forty-year retrospective of their existence, I'm reminded of what attracted me to them in the beginning and even more impressed by their ability to hold onto their attributes all this time. There was a certain grand, regal coarseness to the music Tom Angelripper had always had a hand in writing, regardless of how often they changed their sound.
There was always a distinctive attitude giving them a sound unlike anyone else's, owing to his approach to songwriting, his punkish working-class attitude, his Lemmy-esque distorted bass, and the depictions of the darker sides of human nature in his lyrics, from occult themes to serial killings to wartime horrors. For creating realistic monsters Sodom was closer to bands like Dead Kennedys than most bands of the thrash era.
“40 Years at War: The Greatest Hell of Sodom” is comprised of re-recorded versions of previous album selections, demonstrating how their impact can still be today. A distinguishing characteristic of it is that it does not appear to be a best-of collection. They seem to have deliberately avoided this in favor of re-recording some lesser-known cuts.
To their credit, all the band members are in top form, their instruments recorded at the appropriate levels in relation to the others, Angelripper enunciates clearly so you can discern every word, and the band has validated the potential of the originals without necessarily trying to outdo them. Angelripper himself stated they left the original arrangements and lyrics untouched.
Even if we don't get to hear “Outbreak of Evil”, “Bombenhagel”, “Agent Orange” and so on, the songs that are featured are given just the level of technical license that they required while maintaining sufficient credence for their sound on their respective albums.
The only flaw I found was that they skipped their EP “Expurse of Sodomy” from 1987 when I would have been appreciated “The Conqueror” being added to the mix. Same goes for their two demos “Witching Metal” (1983) and “Victims of Death” (1984) considering their “cult cred”.
Other than that, “40 Years at War” is a near-perfect retrospective and I’d recommend it for anyone who wishes to become a diehard Sodomaniac all over again. More information is at Napalm Records’ official shop. –Dave Wolff
Tom Angelripper: Vocals, bass
Frank Blackfire: Guitars
Yorck Segatz: Guitars
Toni Merkel: Drums
1. Sepulchral Voice
2. After the Deluge
4. Baptism of Fire
5. Better Off Dead
6. Body Parts
7. Jabba the Hut
8. Gathering of Minds
9. That's What an Unknown Killer Diarized
10. Book Burning
12. City of God
13. Ashes to Ashes
14. In War and Pieces