Sodom - Obsessed by CrueltyI’ve been prolonging the YMIO article for Sodom‘s debut Obsessed by Cruelty for months now. All year I’ve been trying to come up with the words that would do it justice. What “justice” that may be depends on the listener’s perspective. To these ears, this thirty-year-old debut is one hot mess of an album. But now that Sodom‘s newest release, Decision Day, is upon us, I find the courage to pull Obsessed from the stockades to give it another listen. It may be inspiration, it may be nostalgia, it may be Steel‘s iron grip tightening around my balls. Whatever has come over me, it’s real. Though YMIO articles on Persecution Mania, Agent Orange, and M-16 would be easier, Obsessed is a piece of history. One that deserves my respect.

Within Obsessed there exists a dirtier, harsher, nastier Sodom sound. One that made “Sodom” the appropriate moniker for this blackened, Venomish outfit. It all began in 1984 with the In the Sign of Evil EP. Sodom took that old-school Venom formula and set out to make it more aggressive and much darker. The result was a five-track EP meant to be the band’s full-length debut. It may have a neanderthal production and songs much too long for their own good, but, like Venom before it, In the Sign of Evil had staying power. Tunes like “Blasphemer” and “Burst Command til War” get to me every time I listen to them. And it made a lasting impression on fans at the time, earning them praise as the rawest and darkest of the Germany thrash trio.

And so what should have been Sodom‘s full-length debut came and went. It wasn’t thrash and it wasn’t their best, but it was a great start. After a minor guitar change from Grave Violator to Destructor, 1985 found the trio (rounded out by Tom Angelripper and Witch Hunter) hitting the studio to record their nastiest release to date. The result was a thirty-seven minute, an eleven-track record of the most muddled, incoherent, ill-produced set of songs this side of Norway. The guitars are out of tune, the band is looser than your grandma’s tapioca pudding, and the album’s organization is worse than a best-of release. The sinister album opener gives way to the high gear  assault of “Deathlike Silence,” which is representative of the Sodom sound in 1986. And its blackened riffage and Venom-like attitude bleed into the rest of the album. “Brandish the Sceptre” and “Equinox” both use the formula, introducing their own subtle seasonings into the mix. The former chucks in thrashy, mid-song breakdowns and the latter is a drum-filled playground from Angelripper’s lightning-quick rasps. And then tracks like “Proselytism Real” and “Obsessed by Cruelty” step in and attempt to mix things up further. “Proselytism Real” may have the catchiest lick of the album, but it drags its feet with an unsuccessful Autopsy-like crawl. The title track also suffers from a mood-zapping introduction, but it regains its bearings and finishes as one of the best tracks on the album.

Sodom 1986

If you own the original 1986 European version of the album, you get three things us Americans do not. A different guitarist (Assator), a “better” production, and a twelfth track. “After the Deluge” isn’t a required listen but it is a good addition—rounding out the first half nicely. Though the back half of the album is weaker, the disc would be a dud without “Pretenders of the Throne” and the ball-busting “Witching Hammer.” The latter being a respectable closer if the band hadn’t chosen the annoying “Volcanic Slut” for the job. Yep, I understand that many o’ fan loves this song, but it’s so bad it makes me cringe.

Though the 1987 Expurse of Sodomy EP and Persecution Mania full-length would erase everything Sodom had done up to this point, Obsessed is a beautiful snapshot in time. Sodom would go on to release some of the most popular thrash records of all time, and that’s what makes Obsessed so interesting. Perhaps there is a reason for everything. And I, for one, like to think that Persecution Mania and Agent Orange would have never happened had it not been for Obsessed. I don’t know why I think this, but I fear if I question it, Sodom may re-record it to prove me wrong.


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  • Yes this is sloppy and crude, but I like it way more than you apparently do. Report to HR.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      I do love it!!! But I love their other stuff better. My “bashing” is more out of love than actual bashing. But if it must be HR, then it must be HR.

      • André Snyde Lopes

        Watch your balls, mate.

        • Dr. A.N. Grier

          Holding them as we speak.

  • Stefunal

    What I’ve always liked about Sodom is how German Angelripper sounds while singing. Gotta love that guy’s accent.

  • kmal666

    One thing I love about this album is how awful it is. The artwork, musicianship, production, Angelripper’s English. Inexplicably, the whole package works. Though I’ll admit I like their In the Sign of Evil EP better

    • André Snyde Lopes

      The sloppiness is charming and genuine. Unfortunately it’s something that is lacking in a lot of modern, overproduced thrash.

  • André Snyde Lopes

    Both versions are amazing. The sloppy one is like a “so bad it’s good” type of deal and the re-recorded version is actually great!

  • ferrousbeuller

    Burst Command til War is a favourite. Also, is it just me who prefers Code Red to M16?

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      I like Code Red, but M-16 is just an album that clicks for me. Every song.

      • ferrousbeuller

        M-16 is a great album for sure – Code Red just has a bit more scratch on it, for me.

        Although one thing it doesn’t have, is the immortal Surfin’ Bird…

        • Dr. A.N. Grier

          That is the best song for making non-metal guests leave your house. Fucking gold.

          • ferrousbeuller

            What I like the most about this, is that you differentiate your guests as metal and non-metal. Well played.

          • Dr. A.N. Grier

            Those guests are barely “guests.” So I try to drive them out of my house the entire time.

          • [not a Dr]

            Why not just call them what they are: trespassers, intruders.

          • Dr. A.N. Grier

            That’s exactly what they are. Jackasses and morons.

  • Diego Molero

    Persecution Mania, Agent Orange or M-16? Which one do you think is better? (better, not favorite).

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      Hmmm… to me, Agent Orange is damn-near perfect.

      • Diego Molero

        That is what everyone seems to think (including myself).

        • Dr. A.N. Grier

          Yeah, that is a typical response, but it is amazing.

    • Carlos Marrickvillian

      Agent Orange it’s my favourite… So it’s better :)

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      Persecution Mania is better because Bombenhagel.

      • André Snyde Lopes

        From the ones he picked, gotta go with this one.

    • André Snyde Lopes

      Tapping the Vein.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    Nice one Dr,
    86 was such a great year for metal. I fully support more YMiO from that time. The flash backs are very welcome.
    A hot mess is a perfect way to describe this album. Every thing about it was over the top particularly for 1986, the art, album and song titles. I haven’t listened to this in years, if I feel like some Sodom I almost always put on Agent Orange… Not today!

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      It is a great year. Looks like there are more to come from the AMG staff. I know I have a couple more I would like to do from that year.

      • Diego Molero

        Master of Puppets…

        • Dr. A.N. Grier

          My issue with that is what else is there to say that hasn’t already been said about the album?

          • Carlos Marrickvillian

            Yep it’s pretty much all been said!

          • Dr. A.N. Grier

            That’s my only hesitation.

          • Diego Molero

            Well true that, haven’t seeing that way. Although AMG thinks is overrated, so it would be interesting to read what he have to say.

          • The Nerd.

            Indefensible Position: AMG Attacks Master of Puppets

          • Carlos Marrickvillian

            Hmm I think he just thinks RtL is better… I’d be surprised if someone (who wasn’t an idiot) could at once be a big fan of RtL and think MoP was “overrated” (implication not elite)

          • Diego Molero

            I too think RtL is better, but he did called MoP overrated if I recall correctly (which doesn’t necessarily implies that he thinks is bad). But hey, I could be wrong.

          • Carlos Marrickvillian

            There may be a nuance here… but I would say that normally calling something over rated is to suggest it’s not actually very good… Anyone who thinks MoP is not good or deserving of the praise it receives is flat out wrong and should be fired from a cannon into a shark tank.

      • Carlos Marrickvillian

        Good to hear! We’ve already had Fatal Portrait. Just looking on wikipedia some pretty great albums by Fast Way, The Door by Metal Church and Epicus Doomicus Metallicus!

        • Dr. A.N. Grier

          The Door? Good old autocorrect? You caught me… The Dark is coming up next…

          • Carlos Marrickvillian

            ha yes god damn I hate being corrected into something totally different!

          • Dr. A.N. Grier

            Agreed. Autocorrect programs should know fucking Metal Church albums.

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    Tom Angelripper is so fucking Metal, he doesn’t look like a complete dork with that bowl haircut.

    • I don’t disagree with the fact that Tom Angelripper is fucking metal, but he still looks like a dork. Just saying.

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        He looks like a dork, just not a “complete dork” ;)

        • Well played sir. Well played.

          • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

            I would say it is almost impossible not to look like a dork while wearing a bowl haircut.

    • Carlos Marrickvillian

      haha. yeah they do look like naughty schoolboys who are trying to cover up for the fact that their mums have cut their hair….

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        “my mom may cut my hair but I’m still Metal as fuck”

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    I have always said that Black Metal was built upon a foundation of bands taking key elements of Venom’s ethos such as sloppy playing, lame production values and over the top theatrical satanism and “improving” upon with sloppier playing, lamer production and more over the top theatrical satanism. That’s exactly what Sodom was doing here. Many bands are still doing it.
    Obsessed by Cruelty is a classic just like the early Hellhammer records are classics, not because of the great technical prowess of the musicians, pristine production or even commercial success. They are classics because of two reasons: buried underneath the rubble there are great songs and because they paved the way for great things to come, both from themselves and from others.

  • Prunus Cerasus

    Just to be clear, Autopsy wasn’t a thing in 1986. I think you’re picking up on some Warrior worship.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      Perhaps. Not saying that Sodom took a page from Autopsy’s book. Just saying it sounds a bit like Autopsy.

  • Wilhelm

    While we’re on the subject of raw sloppy thrash, can I get some love for Endless Pain?

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      Oh yeah, wow. That is sloppy.

      • Dead1

        Endless Pain is easily my favorite Kreator album and one of my favorite albums of all time. The epitome of raw bestial thrash.