Sodom – Genesis XIX (eOne)Wednesday, 2nd December 2020
Even veteran bands sometimes suffer numerous lineup changes as priorities change or chemistry wanes – such is the case for German thrash act Sodom over the past few years. Steady throughout it all has been bassist/vocalist Tom ‘Angelripper’, although for Genesis XIX the return of guitarist Frank ‘Blackfire’ definitely sparks excitement for those who remember his work during the Persecution Mania / Agent Orange late 80’s period of the group. Expanding to a quartet for the first time ever with guitarist Yorck Segatz and drummer Toni Merkel, the possibilities are open to a thicker sound and additional heaviness or atmosphere – which the band execute throughout this twelve-track record.
Positioning the tones and recording in their own rehearsal studios and then fleshing out the mixing at Woodhouse Studios, Sodom chose to keep things as organic and natural as possible without using digital/replacement means, especially on the drums and guitars. Wasting no time getting to the point through the opening mid-tempo instrumental “Blind Superstition”, there’s a militant precision in the attitude, riffs, and devil may care atmosphere the four-piece produce. It’s as if they’ve never lost their speed, punk, and raw aspects that fueled the band from the 1980’s – only adding their decades of experience to drive home these songs with fervor, passion, and seething, pounding aggression. Between Tom’s raspy, acidic voice and haunting screams and the diverse selection of riffs and unique interplay from Yorck and Frank, it allows Toni the chance as a drummer to showcase a bevy of thrash, speed, and traditional aspects to his repertoire, even including extreme/blasting measures in spots – although his snare and tom pummeling captivates as well during highlight cuts like “Euthanasia” and speedy closer “Friendly Fire”. Not always about ramping up in highest gear, the rougher, doomy edges of the group come in the 7:10 epic “The Harpooner” as well as the opening sequence of the follow-up “Dehumanized”, both featuring head-crushing stairstep riffs, intriguing tremolo-fueled/whammy bar accents, and solid hooks/grooves that hopefully make them mandatory Sodom staples in the setlists. Tackling topics from Sodom and Gomorrah to Moby Dick as well as favored war/military themes, it’s always cool to know that the lyrical content matches the music in terms of intensity.
Tradition of a German-language song with “Nicht mehr mein Land” is another reminder of Sodom’s attention to their history and legacy, while the cover art from Joe Petagno is another feast for the eyes. Inspired, driven, and living for heavy metal, punk, and speed – Genesis XIX keeps the band’s Teutonic titan status for thrash loud and clear, showing no signs of slowing down which is beneficial for these musicians and fans alike.