Sodom: Epitome of Torture

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Sodom: Epitome of Torture
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Sodom: Epitome of Torture
Thrash Metal
SPV Records
April 29th, 2013
Release length: 39:57
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Sodom, the brainchild of founding member Tom Angelripper (bass and vocals), is a German Thrash group that has been in existence since 1981. There has been a total of thirteen full-lengths over the years, though none more important to the North American shores than their 2006 self-titled effort, Sodom, re-establishing the band’s dominance after a five year gap. With a slew of ne material sustaining that momentum, including The Final Sign of Evil in 2007, then In War and Pieces in 2010, we now face the fourteenth audio assault titled Epitome of Torture. But, with the band having downgraded to a three-piece, does this album quench the bloody thirst of Thrash fans everywhere, or is this a less aggressive or unique effort than what we have all come to love and expect?

Well, Epitome of Torture is definitely far from a darker, thick chapter. The overall sound and atmosphere is a little lighter, and sometimes can be thin. The bass isn’t too deep, but it does give the music a subtle backbone that the guitars sometimes require. For the most part, the main riffs have a lower tuning, sounding rather chunky, but at times they can rely on a thin sharpness that really needs that bass to back it up. The drumming finds crisp cymbals that fill the music well enough, and a nice click to the bass kick among the tighter snaps from the rest of the kit. The vocals are your traditional harsher approach with some shouting common to a Sodom album, but even at it’s most enthusiastic, it can come off a little lifeless, even with the slight echo used.

Right away, it’s obvious that this is a somewhat different Sodom album. “My Final Bullet” kicks in with a somber introduction with cleaner riffs, shifting to a bass heavy track with simpler riffs for the chorus and bridges, but a slightly chaotic approach to the verses. While it’s not bad, it sounds a bit generic, and really lacks bite aside the deeper passages around the three and four minute marks. The only other song that doesn’t quite hit the mark is the title track, “Epitome of Torture,” though it does seem to showcase a slight Death Metal presence in the chorus. While not the most impressive, it definitely shows more aggression over “My Final Bullet,” keeping up with the atmosphere “S.O.D.O.M.” presented before it. That one is a lot richer with a faster pace that sounds great, bringing a heavier presence to the main riffs. The chorus is catchy as hell, having you instinctively banging your head along, even pumping your fist in the air at each letter of the song and band name that is fleshed out.

Thankfully, the deeper you get into Epitome of Torture, the stronger it becomes. “CANNIBAL” packs a good deal of energy into the mix, with a thicker echo on the vocals at times. The music is slower, sticking to a simpler structure once more, but it’s a deeper effort that really gives the catchy performance some balls. Much of this can be said for “Into the Skies of War,” but this time carrying a genuine war-based environment that is as hopeless as it is a headbanging mandate. The main riffs aren’t quite that heavy, holding a lighter eighties-era approach with a strong groove, and a chorus devised around melodic hooks. While not a bludgeoning assault, this throwback to the early days of Metal stands as one of the most impressive cuts available. Then you have “Invokating the Demons,” a nice throwback to Sodom‘s early days. The faster pace and darker, somewhat blackened approach shakes off what little rust remains from “My Final Bullet,” all the while pounding your face into the gravel during the many commanding verses, letting up on during the chorus to create a good deal of tension.

Epitome of Torture is a bit rough for die-hard fans at the very start, but once you reach “Stigmatized,” it all ends up changing for the better. This is an album you need to put some time into in order to uncover the Metal gems hidden deep within. This isn’t really your traditional Sodom album, which is thanks to the crisp production quality, and the fact that this is a now a three-piece group, more than likely causing the performances to not be as rich as they normally would be. But, fourteen albums and thirty two years later, it’s obvious there’s plenty of life left in the band. While many acts today are following the “We’re metaphorically killing the band and laying it to rest” trend, this effort acts more like a fresh start after all thesre years, and not like the final chapter to one of Thrash Metal’s most decorated groups in all of the style’s history.

01. My Final Bulley – 4:40
02. S.O.D.O.M. – 3:46
03. Epitome of Torture – 3:31
04. Stigmatized – 2:56
05. CANNIBAL – 4:19
06. Shoot Today Kill Tomorrow – 4:00
07. Invoking the Demons – 4:25
08. Katjuschka – 3:43
09. Into the Skies of War – 3:51
10. Tracing the Victim – 4:46
Initial Pressing Score: 8/10

Sodom (band)
Sodom

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