Best Sodom Albums

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Best Sodom Albums

Sodom
Sodom. SPV/Steamhammer Records

 Outside of the Bay Area thrash explosion of the early eighties, there hasn’t been a movement as significant on underground metal than the Teutonic desecration happening in Europe during the same time frame. Sodom, Kreator and Destruction were taking thrash to a place it had never existed before by incorporating the earliest death and black metal influences into their sound. All three had similar styles on the surface but when one looks deeper, the three approached their songwriting slightly different. 

Formed in Gelsenkirchen Germany in 1981, Sodom would come to redefine extreme metal. In the early '80s there wasn’t a band as destructive and aggressive as Sodom. Blending the belligerent vocals of Tom Angelripper with the frantic out of control pace of the music, it opened doors and blazed a new path for countless musicians. Their initial EP offering In the Sign of Evil was an early black metal album and is one of the most influential releases in metal history.

Throughout their career they have embraced all different genres and refused to be pigeonholed. Despite multiple lineup changes, Angelripper has kept the band alive for over thirty years. Still going as strong as ever, Sodom have released more than a dozen studio albums and several EPs throughout their remarkable career. We explore their diverse influential catalog and present Sodom’s essential releases.

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6. 'Better Off Dead' (1990)

Sodom - Better Off Dead
Sodom - Better Off Dead.

Coming off of their most successful release Agent Orange, guitarist Frank Blackfire departed to join Kreator. Recruiting former Assassin guitarist Michael Hoffman, Sodom penned their most accessible record to date, Better Off Dead. Following the same path as their previous successful thrash albums, Angelripper’s vocals are the most melodic of his career. There are still plenty of excellent burners like “Shellfire Defense,” “Bloodtrails” and “Tarred and Feathered” but they add a different dynamic with the thick as tar “The Saw is Law” and the accessible “Resurrection.”

Opener “An Eye for an Eye” features Hoffman’s best riffs mixed with excellent double kick work from drummer Chris Witchhunter. The chorus is addictive and head bang inducing and instantly recognizable that Angelripper is singing more than ever. Similar in scope as their previous punk material “Stalinorgel” moves like a freight train. Some of Hoffman’s best leads dominate but the standout is Witchhunter’s blazing drum patterns, some of the best of his career. One of the most overlooked releases in their catalog, Better Off Dead once again shows a different manifestation of Sodom’s schizophrenic career.

Recommended Track: "An Eye for an Eye"

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5. ‘M-16’ (2001)

Sodom - M-16
Sodom - M-16.

Continuing their obsession with war, Sodom’s 2001 release M-16 is a loose concept record about the horrors of the Vietnam War. Sodom’s most mid-paced album, the tracks are built around heavy chugging riffs and excellent melodies by Angelripper. Opener “Among the Weirdcong” is their most consistent track since “Agent Orange.” Guitarist Bernemann pulls countless riffs out of his repertoire, as each is better than the last. His riffs are more melodic than on any Sodom album as he seamlessly bounces between fast syncopated picking and heavy down picking.

“Napalm in the Morning” starts with a clean arpeggiated guitar before the insanely crushing riffs begin to annihilate your senses. The vocals by Angelripper are some of the best of his career as he shows he is much more than a screamer. M-16 captures his best melodies and vocal performance to date. The last bonafide classic in their catalog, M-16 shows the diversity they can achieve with their songwriting. Similar in content to Agent Orange, Sodom cement their legacy with this masterpiece.

Recommended Track: "Among the Weirdcong"

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4. ‘Obsessed By Cruelty’ (1986)

Sodom - Obsessed By Cruelty
Sodom - Obsessed By Cruelty.

One of the most influential releases in metal, Sodom’s debut full length Obsessed By Cruely is a tumultuous, brutal affair. Their most divisive amongst fans, this is a love it or hate it album. Never has Sodom sounded so evil and chaotic. The intense drumming of Witchhunter is relentless. The title track and “Deathlike Silence” was a precursor to what was to come, where “Brandish the Sceptre,” “Witchhammer” and “Volcanic Slut” still stand as the most vicious metal to come out of the '80s.

Sodom actually recorded the album twice with both versions eventually being released. Originally rejected by their record label as too sloppy, they once again tracked a new version with the thrash ridden “After the Deluge” included with the new recording. The label accidentally released the rejected version except in Germany where the cleaner re-recorded version was released. Both versions are important and vital. The original recordings are some of the most violent black metal ever played where the second version is much tighter and audible.

Recommended Track: "Obsessed By Cruelty"

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3. ‘Code Red’ (1999)

Sodom - Code Red
Sodom - Code Red.

After exploring a more punk infused sound, Sodom regained their metal tendencies with 1999's Code Red. Once again joining forces with producer Harris Johns, Sodom were infusing the thrash influences of Agent Orange blended with the death metal leanings of Tapping the Vein. Sodom’s longest running lineup featured Angelripper, guitarist Beremann and drummer Bobby Schottkowski, who played together for 14 years. Code Red is the pinnacle of that lineup with the band firing on all cylinders.

Bringing their Slayer influence to the forefront, tracks like “The Vice of Killing,” “Warlike Conspiracy” and “Visual Buggery” feature some of their best riffs. The late '90s and early 2000s era of Sodom is completely underrated. While most thrash bands lost their way, they were still cranking out thrash metal classics. Angelripper puts forth one of his best vocal performances, blending melody and aggression. Not only is Code Red one of the best thrash albums of the '90s, the title track is a stone cold classic.

Recommended Track: "Code Red"

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2. ‘Persecution Mania’ (1987)

Sodom - Persecution Mania
Sodom - Persecution Mania.

With the opening of the franticly picked riff of “Nuclear Winter” from Persecution Mania, Sodom instantly launched themselves to another level within the thrash community. Never known for their musicianship, that all changed with the addition of guitar player Frank Blackfire. His playing and songwriting brought a level of sophistication that was missing from their previous releases.  His solos are complex and melodic while still maintaining the frenzy the music needs.

Tracks like “Electrocution” and “Enchanted Land” are still blistering fast and capture the spirit of their previous releases. The band's growth as songwriters is staggering and the leap in quality is one of the greatest in thrash history. Tracks like “Christ Passion,” “Nuclear Winter” and the title track all possess a depth that was missing from the Sodom catalog. The album closes with one of their trademark songs, the anthemic “Bombenhagel.”  Pulling from their punk roots, it perfectly executes all facets of Sodom’s influences. Persecution Mania was the defining moment in their history as it showed that they were much more than frenzy and aggression.

Recommended Track: "Nuclear Winter"

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1. ‘Agent Orange’ (1989)

Sodom - Agent Orange
Sodom - Agent Orange.

The creative peak of Sodom’s career was the multi faceted Agent Orange, easily up there with Reign In Blood and Master of Puppets as one of the best thrash albums of all time. Blackfire’s guitar riffs are on fire as they take the brilliance of their previous effort and up both the melodies and aggression. Lyrically the albums focus is the horror and brutality of war and its repercussions. Each track seamlessly weaves together with its depiction of war.

The title track is slamming with riff after riff annihilating your senses. Angelripper’s aggressive vocals slash between the razor tight drumming of Witchhunter for Sodom’s finest moment. The heavier groove oriented “Remember the Fallen” showcase a different side with Angelripper utilizing more melody than ever before. “Ausgebombt” continues the tradition of proudly wearing their punk influences with its simplistic riff and “D” Beat drumming. The cover of Tank’s classic “Don’t Walk Away” closes the album on a high note as Angelripper eerily embodies Algy Ward’s throaty vocals, Unfortunately for Sodom, Blackfire exited the band shortly after this release to join Kreator. His chemistry with Sodom put them on a whole different level.

Recommended Track: "Agent Orange"