Review – Sodom: Decision Day

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  • Bio: "Sodom is a German thrash metal band formed in 1981. Original line-up were Tom Angelripper, Chris Witchhunter and Aggressor." - Facebook
  • Label: Steamhammer/SPV
  • Release Date: August 26th, 2016
  • Genre: Thrash Metal
  • Website: Visit Website
  • Rating (out of 10):

When it comes to Germany’s Sodom as of late, you never really know exactly what you’ll get. Will the next album be a straight-forward thrash assault, or will they bare their black and speed metal fangs once more? Perhaps it will be something wholly different somehow. Whatever the case may be, you know you’ll more than likely end up with something good at the end of the day. This time around though, some became skeptical. Earlier this year the trio issued the Days of Retribution EP, which wasn’t met with a great deal of praise leading up to their fifteenth full-length effort, Decision Day. But does this new effort boast anything worth checking out after all this time, or is it their most lackluster creation to date?

Right out the gate you can tell Decision Day isn’t going to be a run-of-the-mill Sodom album, which is confirmed the deeper in you dig. No, this isn’t because its anything unique, but rather because it’s a highly varied effort with a fairly vile audio quality. This release sounds modern in every way, but there’s something about it that just feels disgusting sometimes. The somewhat sharpened distortion of the guitars and crisp, stern drum presence are backed by a rich bass guitar performance and raspy vocal approach that gives the varied compositions a sinister output. In essence, this is the modern equivalent of what made Sodom such a strong contender in the thrash world since their self-titled release back in 2006 at the very least. It feels primitive and vulgar in an early Necrophagia manner without ever crossing the style threshold. The only problem is that something seems to be missing to tie it all together snugly, and what that is happens to be something even I have yet to put my finger on.

The music itself, however, is another story all together due to how varied it all ends up being. Things kick off with “In Retribution”, which feeds into the group’s recent output a bit more. While clearly centered in the thrash metal world, there’s an obvious blackness to it that offers a hint of frostbite to the war-themed performance and crushing chorus, not to mention the very “Dead Skin Mask” by Slayer conclusion that is far more unsettling than it actually should be. “Belligerence” actually plods along and caters to that style’s atmosphere through a subtle ritualistic presence in the guitars. However, the pace explodes at the drop of a hat and immediately channels an apparent Cradle of Filth tone to the point where you await the mixture of raspy vocals and background growls to be complimented with a shrieking falsetto or two.

“Rolling Thunder” caters more to their Sodom and Agent Orange output, which is far from a bad thing. There’s still an oppressive environment to the performance that exudes an Exodus level of hostility at times, not to mention a solid hard rock tinged guitar solo that will remind listeners of Tank. “Black Lions” even goes so far as to channel the former group’s regional thrash flair with a hint of two-step So-Cal drumming out of nowhere during the guitar solo. This is something that can be felt at other times, but never to the point where you’d have an urge to surf the shores of Germany which, in this case, is actually not a good thing. Of course, that very urge is immediately obliterated by the darker, somewhat death metal infected “Sacred Warpath”.

And let’s not forget some of the more melodic bits of this recording such as “Decision Day” and its recollection racking to figure out what it sounds like foundation. While the main verses do have a traditional European thrash approach, the grim and melodic chorus is reminiscent of something from a Shadows Fall album. Even the solo and some bridges come off that way thanks largely to the less prominent bass presence overall. “Strange Lost World” is another track that falls into that realm of the dark and murky, carrying that tone everywhere but the uplifting chorus that offers far more enthusiastic vocal presence to essentially counter the creepiness. The Egyptian guitar solo, however, sounds incredibly out-of-place and leaves the track sounding vulnerable for a minute due to the lack of support from the bass.

Sodom

Decision Day is a good album, but that’s about all that can be said about it. While variety is the spice of life and can definitely be a good thing, Sodom really do mix things up to the point that their own sound congeals into the most generic of modern thrash metal offerings. Honestly the only two songs worth a damn here are “In Retribution” and “Rolling Thunder”, and that second one is kind of pushing it a bit. It’s also hard to shake the feeling that something is missing from the overall impact. Once in a while you do get the sensation the band is lashing out violently at anything and anyone it can as opposed to an old dog pacing back and forth baring its fangs as most of this release comes across being. The best way to put it is that Decision Day is basically comparable to listening to a full-blown cover album that somehow became an original creation instead. Sadly, this means that for new fans and veterans alike, Decision Day just doesn’t deliver.

Sodom

Digital review copy of this release provided by Steamhammer / SPV Records via Freeman Promotions.