Monday, May 20, 2013

Sodom - Epitome of Torture

In terms of quality, few thrash bands have been as consistent as Germany’s Sodom. Whenever they release a new record, you know you’ll be getting something that is a serviceable thrash record or better. When it comes to their sound, however, they’ve been a bit of a mixed bag. Though the band started as a black/thrash outfit, they’ve refined their sound many times: thrash, death/thrash, punky thrash, and finally back to a standard thrash sound. For the last 10-15 years, the band has settled on a straightforward thrash style, but they have still given us a modern classic in “M-16”. In 2013, the band has returned with “Epitome of Torture”, which is another solid addition to the band’s growing catalogue.

The album kicks off with “My Final Bullet”, and there could not be a more perfect choice. The intro builds to a riff that is so evil and brooding that something hellishly fast must follow. Though you might expect a great riff, you are actually assaulted with Tom Angelripper’s trademark shouting. The chorus takes the song in a bit of a different, more upbeat direction, but is still just as heavy. A second standout would be “Stigmatized”. This song is for fans of the 1992 classic, “Tapping the Vein”. It is absolutely punishing, both in terms of the rhythmic attack and in Angelripper’s return to truly harsh vocals. Even if you feel that Sodom is no longer interesting or relevant, this song is sure to get your head banging. There are other standouts, but rather than go over them, I’ll address the one flaw with this record: it lacks enthusiasm. All of the elements are there; the album has plenty of speed, riffs, and guitar solos, but I don’t see myself returning to “Epitome of Torture” like I do to “In War and Pieces”. Just from looking at the song titles, I can already hear the choruses from several songs on “In War and Pieces” in my head, but I can say the same for only a few tracks on the new record.

Despite my concerns, this is still a Sodom record. Unlike Destruction, Sodom releases are infrequent enough that even if they release less than stellar albums, it is still refreshing to hear. And it is unfair to call “Epitome of Torture” a bad record, it’s just that Sodom has such a solid track record that my expectations were higher. I’ll definitely keep spinning this album, but am more likely to return to 5 or 6 other Sodom records before I get back to this one. 

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"My Final Bullet"
"Epitome of Torture"

Final Rating
4.0/5 or 80%. 

Written by Scott