SODOM – Genesis XIX
- by John Morrow
- Posted on 24-11-2020
As of 2022, Germany’s Sodom will officially be 40 years old, with legendary frontman Tom Angelripper a year shy of his 60th birthday. This information, whilst a testament to the band’s longevity, is also mind-boggling when listening to their new album, the absolutely devastating ‘Genesis XIX’, because it has the energy of a band 30 years their junior.
Having Frank Blackfire back in the ranks surely has a whole bunch to do with the overall sound of the record, which has the vibe of ‘Persecution Mania’ and ‘Agent Orange’, two of the band’s finest classic releases from the 1980’s, both of which had Blackfire’s six-string stamp all over them. And after 30 years of being away from Sodom, he’s certainly not lost an iota of his talent. Second guitarist Yorck Segatz and drummer Toni Merkel are also both recent recruits and, with both being in their early 30’s, that youthful energy adds fuel to an already huge fire.
There is a raw, unbridled feel to the proceedings that has all the quality of early Sodom when they were still in their proto-black metal/intense speed metal phase, with viral feedback and a looseness that makes this baby swing like a hammer. Within that looseness, however, is a band tighter than a steel drum that understand each other on a musical level, and the songs flow like summer wine.
After the emotional stirring of instrumental opener ‘Blind Superstition’, the album’s crowning achievement smacks us right in the face with no apologies. ‘Sodom & Gomorrah’ is classic Sodom from top to bottom, from the urgent riffage to Angelripper’s bloody vocal to a chorus that will sit in your ears for days. This might well be the best song the band have produced in years, but it’s only the beginning, man.
As nostalgic and comfortable as some of the music is, there are numerous other elements peppered within the songs – there is a definite strong punk streak that is pulled and stretched by quiet passages, proggy inspirations, a dash of (yes) oompah, and full-on, potent-as-fuck thrash metal that kicks like a mule. Tracks such as ‘Friendly Fire’, ‘Euthanasia’, and ‘Indoctrination’ are balls-out speed/thrash metal, but then there are mature showings in epic songs like ‘The Harpooneer’, ‘Nicht Mehr Mein Land’, ‘Occult Perpetrator’, and the monstrous title track. Not only is the music heavy, fast, and breathtaking in its attack, but it’s just so much FUN, and we can all use a bit more of that in 2020.
Angelripper’s vocals remain some of the best in the business, a blood-curdling mix of Tom Araya and Lemmy with a dash of black metal in there for balance. Blackfire and Segatz riff off each other like old pals, the leads and solos are soaring beasts, and the guitar melodies are second-to-none. Merkel is a passionate drummer that has unbridled energy and chops that Sodom require, but also that swinging looseness that gives the music space and time to experiment fully. And that rumbling buzzsaw Angelripper bass is right up in your face throughout, which is part of the Sodom signature and just makes me feel warm in my tummy.
The production, as modern and full as it is, is also raw and demo-like, and that early Sodom sound is warm and bristling with electric energy. This is the Sodom that everyone remembers and loves, and there also couldn’t be a better introduction to newer fans.
‘Genesis XIX’ is a career highlight for a band that has been extremely consistent throughout the years, a record that boils the blood and urges the head to bang. As a longtime Sodom fan, I always welcome new material (such as the slew of killer EP’s over the past couple of years), but even I wasn’t expecting the magic contained in this album. The nostalgia button is pushed and pushed hard, but it is the fresher material that excites the most, and the whole bloody thing is just the Sodom party I’ve always wanted. If Onkel Tom ever retires, the world will be a quieter, less enjoyable place, but until then, albums like ‘Genesis XIX’ are here to make our fists pump, heads bang, and mouths smile. Long live Sodom!