Golden Oldie: Sodom – Get What You Deserve

[avatar user=”Sean” size=”50″ align=”left” /] It might not be that apparent, if at all, on the Moshville website but for those who know me it’s no secret that I am a Sodomaniac. Nope, I’m not particularly a fan of insane buggery (well,Sodom - Get What You Deserve album cover 192 maybe not the “insane” part!), but I love the legends of classic German thrash metal Sodom! In fact, they are my favourite band and I’m going to see them for the first time in London this coming Friday (20/02/2015 – expect a review of the gig week) – I can’t wait! Arguably the most aggressive of the “Teutonic Big 4” (of course featuring  Kreator, Destruction and Tankard), there’s something about the pure thrashing energy and aggression that I get off on. Records like the proto-black metal In the Sign of Evil EP through  thrash classics Persecution Mania and Agent Orange are records that no self-respecting thrasher should be without however, Sodom have a few other ragers that seem to get forgotten about like 1994’s Get What You Deserve.

Get What You Deserve could be considered a bit of a wild card in Sodom’s 33-year discography. It marks the first fairly dramatic shift in style in their career in that their punk influences which are hinted at in previous efforts such as “Bombenhagel” (from 1987’s Persecution Mania), “Ausgebombt” (from 1989’s Agent Orange) and “Stalinorgel” (from 1990’s Better Off Dead) are brought to the forefront. The style shift could even be represented by the controversial cover art (which I understand is still banned and masked by a picture of the band from the Get What You Deserve promo photos) which is one of few Sodom albums not to feature an incarnation of their famous soldier mascot Knarrenheinz. Instead he is replaced by a dingy hotel room that the band rented (see more details in their 2005 retrospective DVD Lords of Depravity Part 1) and filled with a variety of things representing the aural atrocities contained within the album (such as the morbidly obese dead man covered with blood, the sex doll, the bound prostitute in the hockey mask, the whale on the TV). However as the punk riffing is maximised, so is the aggression. The drums are some of the most pounding Sodom have ever recorded, and this is definitely due to the skill of their drummer at the time Atomic Steif (ex-Violent Force, ex-Living Death and ex-Holy Moses). That is not to discredit his long-term predecessor, Chris Witchhunter (R.I.P), who recorded on all of their material prior to Get What You Deserve. The man recorded some of the best drumming moments in Sodom’s entire career (see songs like “Equinox” and “Volcanic Slut” from 1986’s Obsessed By Cruelty, “My Atonement” from 1987’s Expurse of Sodomy EP and “Capture the Flag” from Better Off Dead), but on Get What You Deserve Atomic Steif goes straight for the jugular and beats the living daylights out of his kit – it’s a surprise that the snare skin didn’t rupture halfway throughout the recording of some of these songs!

As for the vocals, founding frontman Tom Angelripper unleashes some of his most savage growls ever committed to tape. On some songs, such as the title track, Angelripper demonstrates his signature roar which we still hear today on more recent efforts like 2013’s Epitome of Torture, but on others we are treated to some more death metal-esque throat shredding as highlighted on the predecessor, 1992’s Tapping the Vein. This also adds to the charm of the album, that the rasping growls complement the heavy punk-thrash surprisingly well. As with every Sodom album, Angelripper’s bass is always a highlight with his thick Motorhead-inspired tone at the forefront of the mix, however the first problem with Get What You Deserve is also introduced with it. Usually on previous Sodom efforts the guitar has always been able to match the bass in terms of power, however guitarist Andy Brings’ guitar tone here just doesn’t quite live up to that of his predecessor’s Michael Hoffmann and Frank Blackfire, or even himself on Tapping the Vein. The guitar tone here is rather thin in comparison to the past, especially with the super thick and meaty tone (arguably the heaviest in Sodom’s career) that Brings himself had on the last album. This might also be down to the mix – just simply cranking the fader on the guitar track a touch more would have made all the difference I think. However, this is not a massive complaint for me personally – let it be of no negative consequence to Sodom’s performance and execution of Get What You Deserve, it’s just the album would be improved by that little boost of guitar to a more crushing sound like that of their previous efforts.

As for the music itself, this album seems to have split opinion between fans. For me personally I really enjoy the album, especially because it’s a little different to the rest of Sodom’s discography, however I do see where a lot of people might be coming from. A lot of the songs are overly simplified and use pretty bog-standard punk chord sequences and this result in some rather un-memorable material, especially in comparison to a lot of other songs from throughout Sodom’s career. Get What You Deserve opens with it’s raging title track that whips up instant insanity and is one of the catchier numbers on the album. Detailing an angry tale of revenge, the song is definitely a pit starter. Next up is “Jabba the Hut” which opens with it’s catchy swaggering riff then interchanges between this and some more pounding insanity with slick ease. Following this marks two of the most aggressive and scathing performances Sodom have ever committed to a record “Jesus Screamer” and “Delight in Slaying”. These are definitely two of my favourites from the album. They’re catchy, they’re unbelievably fast and they’re ripping. Sodom - band photo 1994 192They simply kill. Atomic Steif’s  drumming here is insane – my head just can’t keep up when moshing  to this pair of ragers. I don’t believe these songs are played live anymore but if I could travel back  to mid-90s where they’d have had a more constant gig airing, I don’t know if I could handle the  mental mosh to these songs!

The first German language song of the album, “Die Stumme Ursel”, marks a nice change of pace  to Get What You Deserve. A much more mid-paced ode to a sex doll, the song provides a sense of  humour (as evidenced by the 1995 music video made for the song) that Sodom had recently began to explore with songs like “Wachturm” (from Tapping the Vein) and their cover of Udo Jurgens’ schlager pop hit “Aber Bitte mit Sahne” (from the EP of the same name released in 1993). The song’s riffing is really simple, but in the case it’s highly effective. I believe the song is still performed live today in a medley of Sodom’s German language songs. Following “Die Stumme Ursel” is the short sharp shocker “Freaks of Nature”. This is the first of the more forgettable songs on the album. It’s certainly a ripping number, but it goes by so quickly I can’t remember the riffs, even just after the song is finished. Next up is another more mid-paced and insanely catchy track in “Eat Me”. The song has a more hard-rock esque swagger and attitude in comparison to the rest of their pounding thrashers. The rhythm seems fitting with the lyrical content which details some rather sweaty and perverse sexual exploits. “Eat Me” also features some of the most aggressive death metal-style growling vocals on the album which oddly complements the song. Its certainly an enigma within Sodom’s back catalogue that some either love or hate, but for me it really works and is a great song as a break from the norm.

Next up is a more bog-standard punk-thrash number in “Unbury the Hatchet” which is reminiscent of some of the usual punky numbers on Sodom’s previous albums. It’s a cool catchy song and is a great song to rock out to but I don’t think ranks among the best on the album. Following this is a return to the warp speed thrashing of the earlier tracks with “Into Perdition” – another track that’ll certainly whip an insane circle pit. The coupling of “Unbury the Hatchet” and “Into Perdition” also represents the only songs on Get What You Deserve to feature a war theme. This is a difference which sets the album apart from the rest of Sodom’s output as the vast majority of their records feature war related themes as the main subject. After “Into Perdition” the album features a signature Sodom punk-thrash anthem of depravity introduced a year earlier on the Aber Bitte mit Sahne EP – “Sodomized”. It’s a cool hardcore punk track with simple riffing and a catchy refrain (as well as a different sounding distortion effect on the vocals which works well in the mix) however it’s pretty average when compared to some of the other songs on the album. I believe it still gets played live these days so I’m sure it’s certainly a pit starter. Next comes another rather forgettable number in “Fellows in Misery”. It’s not bad and has some cool ideas in some riffs but overall like “Freaks of Nature” it seems rather uninspired and unnecessary.

The final stretch of Get What You Deserve is introduced with the most serious content of the album with the “Tribute to Moby Dick (Instrumental)”/”Silence is Consent” combination. The lyrics deal with the inhumanity that is whale hunting, particularly via the use of harpoons. The riffs are simple but some  of the most hard-hitting on the album. The intro features some of the heaviest guitars on the album (if only this tone was more consistent for the entire album!) as well as extensive samples of whale sounds, particularly what sounds like screaming. The whale samples almost sound like the noises a whale might make when being hunted as the sharp harpoon blade pierces their innocent flesh. It’s actually a rather uncomfortable listen though I suppose that maybe this is the point. “Silence is Consent” (which Sodom made a video for) details the inhumanity further with the lyrical content shaming the people who refuse to speak up about these issues, suggesting that by ignoring the problem and not fighting the injustice is  in another way consenting for the horrific actions to take place rather than condemning them. Heavy stuff.

The final three tracks are a trio of short punky tracks in “Erwachet”, “Gomorrah” and a cover of Venom’s “Angel Dust”. All three are relegated to the ranks of the more forgettable material on Get What You Deserve. None of them are bad songs by any means – “Gomorrah” has some pretty cool ideas (such as the higher pitched punk riffing, and the slower sample-laden mid-section) plus it seems appropriate seeing the origins of the band name. It could even make a cool coupling with “Fall of Majesty Town” from Obsessed By Cruelty given the subject matter, but itself and “Erwachet” just seem rather overly simple and a bit uninspired. The Venom cover again is quite cool and rather fun seeing as Venom is one of Sodom’s primary influences – it’s a surprise they never featured a Venom cover on one of their earlier albums! As with all of their cover tunes, Sodom has done it well and I can’t fault the execution of the song alone but in context of the entire album it seems rather unnecessary and it makes you feel glad the album is over after 16 songs.

Overall, upon reflection I seem to have painted the album rather negatively – so much for a Golden Oldie! However I must say I do enjoy the album every time I give it a spin. It’s good sweaty, greasy, depraved heavy punk-thrash fun, and definitely overlooked within Sodom’s career however, I can definitely see some of the faults that others might find with it. I think for Sodom fans Get What You Deserve is something of a Marmite album – you either love it or hate it. I’m one of the former rather than the latter and that’s why for me it’s a Golden Oldie. Sodomaniacs alike or just thrashers in general will almost always point to Persecution Mania and Agent Orange as the top Sodom albums of choice, myself included, but for me Get What You Deserve is a bit of a rough cut gem in their discography which usually gets forgotten about which is a shame in my opinion. The songs are hard and heavy and the album is a little different but despite it’s shortcomings, it’s still a cracker. Check it out and see what you think of it.

Highlights: “Get What You Deserve”, “Jesus Screamer”, “Delight in Slaying”, “Die Stumme Ursel”, “Eat Me”, “Into Perdition”, “Tribute to Moby Dick (Instrumental)”/”Silence is Consent”

Photo Credits: Sodom Official Website

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March 23, 2015 8:01 PM

Doest this mean if I purchase the version with the band photo cover I’ll still get the deliciously sexy original cover on the inside?