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Epitome Of Torture

Steamhammer (2013)
Rating: 8.5/10

How many albums is this now?!! Germany’s Sodom were very much part of my teenage years, alongside Celtic Frost, Kreator, Coroner and Destruction, that made European thrash a formidable league and they haven’t let up since. And now they’re back, crashing into the ears with their first album since the assault that was In War And Pieces (2010).

This is the first Sodom album to feature Makka on drums, who replaces Bobby Schottkowski, and he does a fine job at complimenting Tom Angelripper’s ferocious bass, and with Bernd ‘Bernemann’ Kost completing the line-up, this is Sodom at their most accomplished.

With so many bands incorporating melody into their sound nowadays it’s great that Destruction’s 2012 album Spiritual Genocide and Sodom’s Epitome Of Torture have remained true to their thrash roots.

Epitome Of Torture boasts some 12 rip-roaring tracks (two of these are bonus cuts on the limited-edition digipak version) that are some of the best thrash-fests I’ve heard for a long time. Album opener ‘My Final Bullet’ sweeps in with a melodic swoon and then a militant chug, but when it gets going features one of the most infectious choruses I’ve heard in a long while. Tom Angelripper’s snappy rasps lead us down a barbed tunnel until we reach that unexpected chorus. It’s distinctively German, almost power metal at its core.

Second track is the equally volatile ‘S.O.D.O.M’ with its old school guitar sound, but Angelripper is really on form here, gurgling glass and wire with that distinctive vocal grunt. The brilliant chorus harkens back to a black metal style of throat shredding as Tom vomits, “S.O.D.O.M. set the world on fire” as the guitar scorches the speakers.

This really is Sodom at their blackest. The rusty coils of the beast encircle the listener as we’re suffocated by this well-oiled machine that drags us into the meat-grinder which is the vicious title track, where the band slows the tempo, particularly for the sneering chorus line. Great stuff.

Elsewhere, the band treat us to the cold steel assault of ‘Invocating The Demons’ with its tumbling bass and drums and ear-splitting guitars, and the searing hot ‘Into The Skies Of War’ which features a sublime guitar lead and mid-tempo drum. As tracks go the latter is the closest I’ve heard the band get to Motörhead; the juddering bass and sneering vocals are pure filth.

My favourite track however has to be the stomping ‘Cannibal’ which is an absolute barnstormer of a song that is pure chugging Armageddon. ‘Shoot Today – Kill Tomorrow’ is another thrash masterpiece; once again it features a killer chorus where Angelripper barks and snaps with extreme aggression.

Considering how revered the so-called Big Four are, hearing Epitome Of Torture and Destruction’s Spiritual Genocide really puts their American competitors in the shade. Epitome Of Torture is a staggering thrash record that simply confirms what I already knew, that Sodom are one of the genre’s most criminally underrated bands, but one that will soldier on regardless because they know full well that they’ve always stuck to their guns, and their stock of ammo is clearly far greater than any of their nearest rivals. Sodom mark 2013, is the epitome of thrash.

Neil Arnold

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