The Metal Machine Carries on
CoC chats with Tom Angelripper of Sodom
by: Adrian Bromley
In twenty years of existence, Sodom singer / bassist Tom Angelripper and his band have put out fifteen albums, toured the world and stayed true to their primary goal: play thrash metal music. And the tradition continues.

It is no surprise that the band's latest album, titled _M-16_, is knee-deep in thrash metal speed and excellence, a strong record that many are heralding as one of the German band's best albums, right up there with 1986's _Obsessed by Cruelty_ and 1989's _Agent Orange_. While truly proud of _M-16_, Angelripper just sees it as a continuing stepping stone in their crusade for metal music.

"When we started this band in 1981 I really wanted to play metal music for a long time, but I never imagined that it would have lasted this long. This is a real dream come true, especially now that I can live from making music. After the release of _Agent Orange_ we were able to go out and tour and party. We could record when we wanted to and just have fun. The energy and excitement that the fans provide us with also inspires us. It is a great feeling to play before people who love your music. I just can't believe it has been twenty years."

"I'm 38 years old now and it has been such an amazing thing for myself to be doing this job for so long. It is indeed the best job that anyone could have. <laughs> I used to work in a coal mine back in the early days and it was a tough job, but ever since _Agent Orange_ I have had to become a bit more professional and take this somewhat seriously if I want to make a living from our success as a band."

And how do you feel about the prestige and respect that many fans and bands give to Sodom?

Angelripper responds: "It makes me feel good knowing that a lot of these black and death metal bands were inspired by the old Sodom material. It makes me feel proud to know that even though bands like Cradle of Filth and Dimmu Borgir sell a lot more than Sodom in Germany, that our records still sell and our fans are still behind what we do. It makes me feel good knowing that people still believe in what we have brought and continue to bring to metal music."

"When we started off in this music business, we never cared what other bands were doing, and we are still that way. A lot of bands come and go, with a lot of these bands signing contracts, making money, playing for two years and then disappearing. It has never been that way for Sodom. We believe in our music and what we do."

"Back in the '80s a lot of the metal bands were like a big family. We all worked as a team and had a lot of fun", reveals the singer. "Nowadays there is so much going on in metal music, many new genres and just bands making music for money. It is too commercial now. In the early days I used to buy all of the bands' albums and keep up with them, but now there are so many bands coming out with mediocre music, and I don't want to spend money on crap."

The topic shifts to the new album, _M-16_. A lot of people are assuming that by looking at the album title, the cover artwork (a Marine carrying a rotten corpse of a fallen companion and toting an M-16 rifle) and song titles ("Napalm in the Morning", "Among the Weirdcong" and "Marines") that the new record is a concept album about Vietnam. Well, according to Angelripper, it isn't. He explains the album.

"A lot of people think this is a concept album about the Vietnam war, but it isn't. I am always writing lyrics about events that have occurred in the world and historic things that interest me. We traveled to Vietnam to get information about the place and talk to the people and just become influenced by what went on there and how things really are. We just used certain symbols of the Vietnam war to fuel some ideas. There are a lot of hidden messages on this album. This really is an anti-war album. We just used the artwork to shock people. This album is like "Apocalypse Now" or "Full Metal Jacket", two movies that were anti-war movies that wanted to show people what reality is like. People are comparing this to _Agent Orange_ as well because we used Vietnam themes there, but is has nothing to do with it. It is a new album, with fresh ideas and thoughts." He continues, "I look at great metal bands like Judas Priest and Saxon and read their lyrics, and I just can't write like that. I need to write about historical events and things that happened."

It seems as though each new album by Sodom is like a new chapter for the band.

"I think each album we do is different, in regards to the themes or the way it was produced, but the core sound of Sodom has never changed. I would never let it change", assures Angelripper. "We always make an effort to play thrash metal music and just do the best that we can. Our albums get better as the years go on and I think once you hear this record a few times you'll remember the songs (i.e. "Napalm in the Morning"). I think many of these songs will be classic Sodom songs in years to come."

"This album isn't the heaviest record we have done, that would be _Masquerade in Blood_ (1995), but I think it is a solid one. Our line-up is solid and it just seems to be going good for us."

While Sodom plans to head out on the road with Kreator and Destruction (an amazing bill of the three classic German thrash metal bands) in Europe, chances are very slim that such a tour will happen in North America. Though there have been rumours, according to Angelripper it most likely won't happen.

"I know we are going to go out on tour for five weeks in Europe and then take a break and possibly head to South America and Asia, but so far no promoter in North America has decided to book this tour", he says.

Really? This seems like a killer tour! Why not?

"I really want to tour North America and have a huge tour, but I want to work with a promoter that is really serious about handling this tour and helping support us and to get us to play lots of shows. We played three years ago at the Milwaukee MetalFest and it was the first time we had ever played in the US. We got no support, no money. We only played for half an hour and we weren't even allowed to bring our own instruments. We had to go as tourists 'cause we couldn't get the papers in order. [MMF's] Jack Koshick is a really bad promoter. We are currently looking for a promoter to help us there. I am sure the fans liked the show, but we didn't have fun at all. We only had a backdrop with our name on it. We needed good instruments and Jack Koshick wouldn't even help us out. We got nothing. It was just a real nightmare for us. I hope in the future we can find a good promoter worthy of helping us out. When we came to play Milwaukee we had another show booked for Canada, but he [Koshick] told us he wanted us to come and play and go home. He didn't want us to tour. It was awful. He asked us to play March Metal Meltdown in New Jersey last year, but we said "No way!" Never again will we deal with him."

He ends, "Next time we come and play North America we are going to do it right. We are going to show North American fans that Sodom plays real thrash metal and we do it all for the love of metal music."

(article submitted 14/1/2002)


ALBUMS
6/8/2013 A El Naby 7 Sodom - Epitome of Torture
12/22/2010 A El Naby 7 Sodom - In War and Pieces
7/5/2006 T DePalma 6.5 Sodom - Sodom
3/15/2006 T DePalma 8 Sodom - Lords of Depravity (Part One) DVD
1/15/2000 M Noll 6 Sodom - Code Red
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