Sodom - _Sodom_
(SPV / Steamhammer, 2006)
by: T. DePalma (
Undoubtedly past their prime, outside of their own era, Sodom has taken a gamble for their eleventh studio album in dispensing with all the color of shocking words and images, not even bothering with a proper album title and cover art which differs as much in tone from their early catalog. With cold, simple contrasts of silver steel weapons emerging from a black nothing, an eternal and dehumanized image of war is brandished as a coat of arms. It's been years since the band has sounded so pertinent. In 2006, Tom Angelripper is living through the Vietnam he missed out on, taking full advantage of the morbid farce.Forever driven by the competition, Angelripper delivers his "heavier is better" method with an album that reflects a more contemporary sound, a small separation from the usual bin of influence even while the official protocol is to shrink from any larger reference. (It's amusing that the press sheet for _Sodom_ touts as "experimental" the coupling of Motorhead verse and Venom-worthy chorus.) However, the payoff is uneven. The speed-burner "Wanted Dead", one of the fastest Sodom tracks in recent memory (also spitting a well-known lyric from Morbid Angel for the opening line) sees Angelripper in peak form, rising above the blitz to rival even the bursting lungs of Tom Araya, while the radio friendly guitar riffs affixed to his whiskey-scoured vocals on "Buried in the Justice Ground" are more reminiscent of commercial failures like Megadeth. Not far from that, the album absorbs a good deal from the ubiquitous tones of Swedish death metal ("City of God" and "Lay Down the Law" -- the latter could, at times, even pass for something written by Dismember) and in this they manage a slightly more convincing if not altogether inspiring performance.The album was produced by former guitarist Andy Brings, who served as a welcome replacement for Achim Koeler, and while Brings is accomplished at isolating the vocal tracks, the guitar tone is generally flaccid and far too trim to pull off the more overly melodic material, as in the decidedly un-explosive Amott-like riff in "Blood on Your Lips" that starts the album proper. It seems the will to outdo and best not only younger acts but also bands that began ten, twenty years ago is both a curse and vent for the energy necessary to place in this marathon existence.But let's meet them on their own terms. Admittedly, the album's intelligent content welcomes temptation to overlook its faults, among them the extreme predictability of tracks which stay within more traditional borders. But after all, what can you expect? It's Sodom! Exactly the point: I've heard heavier and better before.
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