Album Review: Sodom – Genesis XIX

As 2020 is slowly reaching it’s close, life seems pretty gloomy for many. There’s a black light peeking through the tunnel for fellow Sodomaniacs and I. Having whetted our appetites with the killer Out On the Frontline Trench EP last year, the band are ready to serve their highly anticipated main course in upcoming album Genesis XIX. Sodom have had a mean streak of  thrashing albums in recent years, and the new release is sure to keep the maniacs moshing.

The album opens with the short introductory instrumental “Blind Superstition” which instantly gets the head nodding to the stomping riff before before bursting into first single “Sodom & Gomorrah”. The song ramps up to a thrashing d-beat with straight-up blackened punk riffing. “Euthanasia” brings the blistering thrash pounding through the verses with some nasty pull-off riffing and an awesome shredding solo from Frank Blackfire in his signature style. The song reminds me a lot of “Electrocution” from the classic Persecution Mania album in terms of the structure and riff styles.

The title track follows and is just as killer as it was on Out On the Frontline Trench, the main difference on Genesis XIX being the slightly slicker-sounding production. The album dials back the cavernous blackened ambience a little and ramps the bass up giving a thicker overall punch in comparison to the fuzzier sound of its predecessor. Tom Angelripper’s bass really gives an old-skool Sodom feel with its distinct distorted tone high in the mix, adding a lot of weight to chainsaw guitars.

We haven’t had a German song from Sodom in a while however that changes with “Nicht Mehr Mein Land”. Exploding your eardrums with a curveball blast of death metal complete with a ghastly groan from Angelripper, the song takes you by surprise with these elements that aren’t typically Sodom. However it works so well transitioning to a crushing stomp as the lyrics are angrily barked on top. The blastbeats return for a final charge into the straightforward sliding power chord thrashing of the awesomely-titled “Glock ‘n’ Roll”. Featuring some slightly more melodic moments, the song also boasts a more bluesy rock-inspired solo (in-keeping with the darkly punny title) before marking the halfway point with the rumbling rhythm section and an extended roar.

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This segues into another awesome surprise in the death/doom opening to “The Harpooneer”. The song bounces between deathly thrashing throughout and the crushing doom riffing in the pre-choruses. It’s fun to hear Sodom experimenting with other areas of extreme metal and incorporating elements into their own style, especially when it suits their sound. This seamless style blending continues in “Dehumanized” which is chock full of killer riffs. From the meaty doom of the intro to the relentless deathrash of the verses, to the blasting chorus and shredding solos (contrasting the classic rock-inspired style of Blackfire and the more dissonant metal style of Yorck Segatz), each hook making skulls shake.

Next up is the most downtempo overall number in “Occult Perpetrator”, opening with some creepy doomy arpeggios that leads into simple chugging riffing for the most part. The mid-section brings an almost arena-rock sensibility with big chords, bluesy licks and gang-shouted “hey!”s interspersed with darker heavy arpeggios. Nearing the end of Genesis XIX, Sodom give us a more epic tale of Vietnam war history in “Waldo & Pigpen” introduced with sombre harmonised clean arpeggios layered with atmospheric distorted guitars. Building to a crawling chug, the song bursts into more rapid-fire thrash using more dissonant chords and trills above some seriously pounding kick drums. Penultimate tune “Indoctrination” brings out the band’s punk-side bashing out in-your-face power chord riffs with gang shouts of the title. The vocals also sound like they have a little distortion on top, reminiscent of many hardcore punk records. The album closes with a final relentless 5-minute blast of raging thrash in “Friendly Fire”. There’s the return of blastbeats in the verses with more hooky high-speed thrash marking the end of another banging album.

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Genesis XIX is another killer record in Sodom’s impressive catalogue. The reunion of Tom Angelripper and Frank Blackfire as well as the injection of fresh blood in Yorck Segatz and newcomer Toni Merkel (who makes a stellar debut in Sodom behind the kit) in recent years has made for some awesome riffing that plunders different elements of Sodom classics and incorporates them well into their new sound. It’s fun to hear the band experiment with diverse ideas and they blend well into their core sound making for some of the best tracks on the album. The more polished and melodic style of most of Sodom’s modern output has shifted to a rougher, scuzzier sound more reminiscent of the sounds from the band’s first decade of releases.

The album was produced in a more old-skool fashion using tube amps with no digital effects and mixed on an analogue console at a studio in Sodom’s native Ruhrpott area of Germany – definitely contributing to the distinct, gnarly sound. The riffs are traditionally straightforward but always catchy and it’s no different on Genesis XIX.

Overall Sodom are showing no signs of slowing down and continue to release solid albums of aggressive thrash and this Sodomaniac can’t wait to mosh to the new songs when gigs return.

Genesis XIX is on November 27th.

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