It’s an understatement to say how excited I am for this one. Sodom are my favourite band and everyone who knows me well knows it. It’s been 3 years since Sodom’s previous album, the awesome Epitome of Torture, so when the new album, Decision Day, arrived in the Moshville inboxes I quickly jumped at the chance to review it.
First impressions of Decision Day begin with the cover art. It is particularly striking, especially among Sodom’s 35 year old collection of visceral album covers. Depicting their signature mascot Knarrenheinz, Decision Day, shows his mutilated face up close. Usually concealed by his gas mask, this time it’s half torn off as Knarrenheinz is engulfed in flames. Behind him on his left and right sides respectively are torn US and Russian flags. This artwork could be considered topical given increasing tensions in both US and Russian politics, as well as international politics and the ongoing war on terror. When coupled with the title, Decision Day, it seems as if the album could be foretelling the future. Though the title is a clear reference to the 1944 D-Day event of World War II, it suggests that one day in the near future world governments and their armies will have to make some tough decisions in the battlefields of today and tomorrow. Sodom’s material has always been hard-hitting stuff and Decision Day continues that trend, reminding us all of the horrors, atrocities and injustices that have always surrounded us and will continue on everlasting into the future. Notably the artwork for Decision Day was created by none other than Joe Petagno of Motorhead cover art fame. Given that Motorhead has always been a core influence in Sodom, this must have been a dream come true for the band.
Decision Day begins with “In Retribution”. Opening with a some fading in guitar and synth chords before firing straight into some rapid thrash riffing, this sees Sodom going straight for the jugular right from the get-go. The song is straight-up no-nonsense high aggression frantic thrash. The riffs are pretty simple yet catchy and when coupled with the pounding drums, they get your neck frantically swinging back and forth. The song notably features some of the most venomous vocals frontman Tom Angelripper has ever committed to disc, making a change from the roar he exhibited on previous efforts like In War and Pieces.
Next track “Rolling Thunder” mixes things up a little more with more varying tempos, melodic ideas in places and touches of acoustic guitar making for a slightly more epic sounding number. More melodic and catchy riff ideas feature among the title track as well as increased delay effects on Angelripper’s throat shredding vocals. Following number “Caligula” (which Sodom have released a lyric video for) begins with some of Angelripper’s signature Motorhead-style rumbling distorted bass before heading straight into more high speed pounding thrash riffs from guitarist Bernemann. The melodic side of the band is replaced with more jarring chromatic and dissonant ideas on the guitar which resonate well with the madness and depravity of the song’s titular historical tyrant.
It’s clear after listening to the first few songs on Decision Day that this is a more refined Sodom. Previous album, the awesome Epitome of Torture exhibited a return to more high velocity tempos and more vicious vocals though it still contained a lot of more epic-sounding melodic ideas from the previous few releases. Decision Day sees the band leaning more towards their classic high-aggression Venom and Motorhead influenced sound where the foot is firmly on the accelerator in terms of speed, the drums are pummeled to create a percussion thunderstorm, and the guitar riffs are in-your-face thrashers. However melodic flavours and varied ideas exist here and there to keep things interesting and ensure all shades of the Sodom sound are on aural display. Most notably are again, Tom Angelripper’s vocals on Decision Day – they haven’t been this aggressive and poisonous since 2001’s M-16 or 1999’s Code Red. It’s a true return to the pre-black metal vocal style he pioneered with the band in the mid 80s and it’s awesome to hear.
The trends above continue throughout the rest of the album. “Who is God?” is slightly slower yet still pounding, and “Strange Lost World” brings things down to a more stomping pace. Both feature simple yet catchy and moody riffing with some arpeggio and legato flavours among the power chords. “Vaginal Born Evil” picks up the pace in the verses and adds a touch of melody in the chorus. It also includes Angelripper’s roar peppered throughout the track between his more black metal vocals. “Belligerence” is a bit more busy musically. There’s a lot more tempo changes from the moody stomp of the main dissonant droning riff to the frantic thrashing of the pre-chorus. The album builds back up to full speed in “Blood Lions”. Another topical number inspired by the tragic incident of Cecil the Lion, the anger towards those who slaughter innocent animals unnecessarily for pure sporting entertainment comes across loud and clear in this short aggressive thrasher.
Decision Day’s penultimate song is “Sacred Warpath”. The song was the title track of the band’s 2014 EP where the song featured a much rougher mix. The song is a bit more epic and melodic in nature and features various riff ideas such as the Immortal-esque verse riff and the acoustic guitar arpeggios. There are varying tempos and deathly vocals throughout, and the more refined mix compliments the song brilliantly. The final song on the album, “Refused to Die” brings the aggression back up to the max with with it’s haunting intro featuring choral synths and tom work on the drums. This then leads into a series of heavy headbanging riffs, pounding drums and a final spewing of venomous growling vocals backed up by the synth chords as the album closes.
German thrash metal legends Sodom’s latest album Decision Day is a hyper-aggressive record full of heavy no-nonsense in-your-face riffing, rumbling bass, pounding drums and throat-shredding vocals. There’s touches of melody, acoustic guitar and synths in places that keep things fresh and interesting amongst the aural assault. Bassist/vocalist Tom Angelripper, guitarist Bernemann and drummer Makka have excelled themselves in creating a hard-hitting and heavy collection of songs that perfectly capture Sodom’s lyrical concepts of corruption, human atrocities, perversion and war. After 35 years of aggressive thrash metal mayhem, Sodom show no signs of slowing down with Decision Day and long may it continue.
Highlights: “In Retribution”, “Rolling Thunder”, “Decision Day”, “Caligula”, “Belligerence”, “Sacred Warpath” and “Refused to Die”
Decision Day is available on the 26th of August via SPV. The album is available in a variety of formats including a CD digipak, 2 LP vinyl set and a box set limited to 1000 copies worldwide. Or, of course, the modern-day digital download.The box set includes the CD digipak (which includes a poster of the album artwork), the 2LP gatefold sleeve red vinyl, a signed postcard, a sticker, a badge, a patch and a poster flag of the album artwork.