Sodom, sweet Sodom, ever so reliable and happily predictable. They’re the thrash equivalent of your favorite concert t-shirt. It’s always there for you, it’s comfortable, beer soaked and you go way way back together. Since 1982 these German metal-meisters have given us thrash and more thrash with very little stylistic variation or experimentation and for most long time fans, that’s just how we want it. After all, Sodom always specialized in simple, brutal and dirty thrash metal with punk influences and they were proud to be a thrash band even when thrash wasn’t “cool” anymore. I never had to waste time worrying if they would start exploring jazz fusion, ambient soundscapes or become self important about the message in their music. No sir, Sodom was just Sodom. Thankfully, the comforting non-progression continues on In War and Pieces, their thirteenth platter and they continue to deliver their battle tested (and themed) thrash lunacy.
Staying close to the sound and formula from their eponymous 2007 release, In War and Pieces finds Sodom crafting short and ugly thrash tunes that remain faithful to the NWOGTM they helped create along with Kreator and Destruction, while also modernizing the sound to acknowledge that it’s not 1986 anymore. Before you Angry Metal Legions bust out the pitchforks and torches to ravage the countryside, I don’t mean they sound like Killswitch Engage or Hatebreed! I simply mean they aren’t trying to rewrite In the Sign of Evil and this doesn’t sound like a garbage can being thrown down the stairs production-wise. Worry not, all the usual Sodom staples are here, including “Onkel” Tom Angelripper’s hoarse snarl and some outstanding thrash riffing from Bernd Kost. In fact, this album may have more guitar wizardry than any previous Sodom album and Kost is given lots of room to flex the fretboard to create plenty of impressive solos and leads. All eleven tracks are between three and five minutes and all hit quick and hard, none overstay their welcome or get tedious and all benefit from a solid production job that brings out the instruments but still sounds plenty raw and rough.
Songs like the title track and “Hellfire” with their straight ahead, traditional thrash bulldozing are sure to make long time Sodomites smile. On “Storm Raging On” there is some infectious and interesting solo and riff work from Kost that stands out amid the thrash chaos. Things get slower and sludgy on “Feigned Death Throws” and Angelripper’s snarl sounds particularly sharp and evil here. The real standouts are “God Bless You” with it’s cool vocal pattern and solo work and “The Art of Killing Poetry” where Sodom shows even they can learn new tricks as the track alternates between face ripping thrash and melodic guitar showcasing (seriously, there’s alot of wild guitar here for a Sodom song). All the songs work and nothing really feels like thrash filler. This is a Sodom album through and through. Is it as good as classics like Agent Orange or M-16? No, but it’s light years ahead of most of the thrash out there today and worthwhile just for the guitar work alone.
There are some brand names in metal that stand for consistent quality and reliability and Sodom is near the top of that list. They continue to do what they enjoy and perfect their Germanic thrash attack. While Slayer has stumbled and become boring and fellow countrymen Destruction sound increasingly tired and dated, Sodom continues to remain relevant and vital. If thrash is your thing and you want some angry aggression, look no further than In War and Pieces. It’s not reinventing the wheel, it’s just using it to run you over.