Sodom - Agent Orange

Sodom - Agent Orange

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Sodom - Agent Orange

(1989, Steamhammer/SPV)

Let’s start by saying that I believe SODOM is the only one off the ‘big three’ of the German Thrash Metal that still remain approximately loyal to their initial principles. I know, it’s so mature to expect from a band to stick to its roots when performing for more than 25 years in a row but the directions and paths both KREATOR and DESTRUCTION once followed (or still follow) in their post-80s discographic steps have confirmed that the trio from Gelsenkirchen needs a special space in our heart for more reasons than just for their musical offerings all these years.

Formed in 1981, the band centered around Tom Angelripper (real name Thomas Such) shoed its teeth from the early beginning, with their 1984 infamous EP and 1986’s “Obsessed By Cruelty” LP now considered as among the predecessors of the thrashin’ Black Metal movement developed some years later in Europe. The story of SODOM and their amount of contribution in the worldwide Thrash Metal scene is known to all thrash-lunatics and it’s no joke this specific band offered the most to the filthy constituent of Thrash music. That’s no wonder of course, when your favorite bands are MOTÖRHEAD, TANK and VENOM...

“Agent Orange” is not necessarily better than 1987’s “Persecution Mania” while it isn’t also the nastiest SODOM album ever released. It does, though, have something that places it on top of every other album the German trio released since their early years: and that’s probably class. Yes, I know words like ‘filth’ and ‘class’ do contrast but that’s also the key point raising this 1989 LP into mythical status. SODOM had ‘till then shown they were neat delegates of the darkness and evil, they had confirmed they could create chaos in motion with ultra fast and consciously muddled songwriting and what was now wanted was the case they could shape songs with discipline and thrashin’ mania without neglecting their roots. And what was initially seen in a great album like “Persecution Mania” was now full reality, circa 1989.

I’ll pass the interesting cover done by Andreas Marschall and the lyrics concept and stick to the music and only: in this album SODOM’s classic lineup - Angelripper, Witchhunter and Blackfire - offers lessons in how to play malicious punk-licking hellish Thrash with self-discipline, satanic groove and deathlike aura. The opener, “Agent Orange”, serves as the most fitting song you could expect in such an album, with some neck-ripping riffs and bridges dressing the ultra-fast main verses. The same goes for “Tired And Red”, whose devilish main structure ties godly with a surprisingly mild interlude and a harmonic solo you could even imagine Satriani guest performing in it! “Incest” cranks it up again and the SODOM philosophy of that era is clearly depicted in something less than five minutes. And then it’s “Remember The Fallen”: the recipe of success in one song full of groove, exchanging tempos, some exquisite vocal lines by Tom and a narrative/historical approach you cannot resist to but sing along from the very beginning. It’s a crowd favorite all these years and you all now know why...

The mid-pace crawling intro of “Magic Dragon” seems like a nice trap for the wonderful speedy typhoon later unleashed; here - as in all the songs, really - we can applaud the maniacal yet impressive drumming of the late Chris Witchhunter, whose contribution to the band’s signature sound needs to be memorized more and more as years go by. Exhibition Bout storms in and hell is unleashed with some really macabre vocals by Angelripper, whose general singing sessions in this album are remarkable and a guide to nasty yet persuasive singing in extreme Metal in general; no need to judge on the banging after-chorus bridge here, again. Ausgebombt follows the tradition of the previous album’s Bombenhagel so you know what to expect from this short party little jewel. Wrapping up the album, Baptism Of Fire unveils the hostility lurking in the band’s ranks, with non stop riffing and drumming dressing nicely Tom’s intimidating vocals; the intermezzo guitar solo kicks ass to, glorifying Frank Blackfire as the ideal guitarist for this album’s value.

The whole atmosphere in this monumental album is warlike, aggressive, furious and commanding. And that’s something SODOM managed to achieve after working hard on their skills and general behavior as a trio of musicians without leaving their ideals in the background. Thus, “Agent Orange” sold 100,000 copies in Germany alone and had some glorious impact worldwide, successfully placing the band as an equal next to KREATOR and DESTRUCTION in the German Thrash school. It should be said that up to 2011 “Agent Orange” is the best selling Thrash album of all time in the whole globe. And that surely means something...


Tracklist

01. Agent Orange
02. Tired And Red
03. Incest
04. Remember The Fallen
05. Magic Dragon
06. Exhibition Bout
07. Ausgebombt
08. Baptism Of Fire


Lineup

Tom Angelripper - Bass, Vocals
Frank Blackfire - Guitars, Backing Vocals
Chris Witchhunter - Drums, Backing Vocals