SODOM “40 Years At War—The Greatest Hell of Sodom”

By Dr. Abner Mality

Yes, metal maniacs, it’s been 40 years since young Tom Angelripper, a miner slaving away in the depths of the Earth, picked up a guitar and put together the unstoppable force of SODOM. I remember well reading about their earliest demo days in old zines like “Kick Ass Monthly” and “Metal Forces”. Back then, they were about the most primitive, bestial and at times stupid metal band around, one whose mission seemed to be making VENOM sound like ASIA. As the years rolled on, the members of SODOM changed with the frequency of a high-casualty infantry brigade...with the exception of Tom, who is beyond the shadow of a doubt the general that drives the SODOM campaign. Through every setback and change in metal taste, Tom and SODOM have endured.

“40 Years At War” is a unique way to celebrate this notable anniversary. The current version of the band has taken one song from every full SODOM album ever released and re-recorded it. That gives us 17 songs tracing the evolution (and maybe the de-volution) of SODOM in linear fashion. It’s a cool idea and that band has chosen some underappreciated gems to fill out the album. We start with the subhuman fury of “Sepulchral Voice”...the song remains the same, as LED ZEP would say, but improved production and playing ability kick this up many notches from the muddy murk it was back in 1986. Of course, some “kvlt” maniac will bitch about it, but if you can’t hear the improvement and added power to these early tracks, you might as well be deaf. “After The Deluge”, “Electrocution” and “Baptism of Fire” follow in short order and show SODOM’s evolution into a tight thrash metal band.

Then we get some cuts from their more “punky” period and these are great. “Better Off Dead”, “Body Parts”, “Jabba The Hut” and “Gathering of Minds” exhibit raw and primitive thrash power, but with the modern production, the instruments all jump right out of the speakers. That’s my favorite part of this collection. Starting with the rather average “That’s What An Unknown Killer Diarized”, we start to enter the more refined and somewhat weaker period of band history. “Book Burning”, “Genocide” and especially “City of God” aren't really bad, but they just don’t have the pure crushing power of the early tracks.

That starts to right itself again with “In War And Pieces” and again SODOM is starting to rediscover their roots while keeping more advanced songwriting. The final three cuts “S.O.D.O.M.”, “Caligula” and “Euthanasia” gives us a band that is surer of itself than ever and not afraid to integrate old with new. “Euthanasia” in particular almost could have come from “Agent Orange” and believe me, that’s a compliment.

This compilation comes with some cool extras like a poster, special packaging and liner notes. But it’s what’s inside that counts...the chronicle of a band that almost started on all fours like beasts and wound up walking loud and proud into extreme metal history.