As you get older, reminiscing becomes part of everyday life. Especially those pushing thirty, forty, fifty years old. Times were simpler in the old days and, while we’re wiser now, there’s a sense of envy for those days of ignorance. In 2016, AMG Industries, Inc. gives Sodom‘s thirty-year-old self an opportunity to look back at baby pictures. A few weeks ago we got an YMIO on Obsessed by Cruelty and now we get 2016’s Decision Day. This would complete the circle of life if Sodom had actually come full circle. But, to be a circle, the beginning must meet the end seamlessly; fusing the past with the present in an endless loop. Once sealed, creation no longer occurs and this ring forever exists for others to admire. Because Sodom shows no signs of calling it quits or closing the loop, this hypothetical ring is better imagined as a coil. And 2016 represents another curl in that coil—turning, twisting, and growing into eternity. One day the leading end of this coil will meet its fate like the head of a serpent under a jagged rock but, for now, the decision to push forward is made.
Of course, this “decision day” has less to do with the fate of Sodom and more to do with that fateful day in 1944. In true Sodom fashion, the band delivers another emotional journey into man’s bloody past. With an emotion personified by the Slayer-esque riffs and a heartbreaking chorus—the title track coming off similarly to Epitome of Torture‘s “Into the Skies.” But, like “Agent Orange” and “M-16,” Decision Day also has plenty of bruisers to counter the disc’s melodic numbers. Within these crushing tracks, you’ll find hate and anger spewing forth from every member of the band. That spit, that fire, that chaos further magnified by Joe Petagno’s (Motörhead) outstanding cover-art. It may not be the best Sodom release in the last thirty years, but at least it’s a consistent package.
Unfortunately, the weak front (“In Retribution”) and weak rear end (“Refused to Die”) of this package are hardly capable of keeping the contents from spilling out. Thankfully, most of the contents are well packed, keeping them together even after the tape fails. “In Retribution” comes out firing on all cylinders, but has some serious flaws when compared to stellar Sodom openers like “Agent Orange,” “Among the Weirdcong,” and “In War and Pieces.” The riffs are solid, but the songwriting is typical and the vocals are uninspired. Follow-up “Rolling Thunder,” on the other hand, is what the opener should have been. A growing intro, a monstrous thrashy riff, a memorable chorus, and even an acoustic build midway make this a true highlight and something that could have punched its way out of the album like “In War and Pieces” did for its namesake album.
Though nothing quite touches “Rolling Thunder” when it comes to balls-out riffage, there are other ditties on Decision Day that hit the sweet spot. “Caligula,” “Vaginal Born Evil,” “Blood Lions,” and “Sacred Warpath” are just such examples. The Julius Caesar-themed “Caligula” uses bass leads to propel itself and Witchery riffage to spread its plague. And “Vaginal Born Evil” depends on its heaviness and fist-pumping chorus to real you in. But it’s “Blood Lions” and “Sacred Warpath” that kick serious ass. The former combines more Swedish trash with the American kind (Testament, to be more specific) while the latter unleashes heavy doses of Immortal on its listener. Immortal-inspired riffs and soloing on a Sodom album may sound odd, but it works.
For all the good there is on Decision Day, the opener, the closer, the slow-paced “Strange Lost World,” and the machine-gunned “Belligerence” just don’t work. “Strange Lost World” and “Refused to Die,” in particular, mix it up with mid-paced heaviness and crawling vocals, but they kill the album’s momentum. A momentum that, unfortunately, breaks down too many times. Because of this, I find myself hopping around between “Rolling Thunder,” “Decision Day,” “Blood Lions,” and “Who Is God?” rather than committing to the entirety of Decision Day. But, for those that disliked Epitome of Torture, this new release ought to erase some of that bitter taste from your mouth. Decision Day may not be Sodom‘s best, but after thirty years on the playing field, it’s still impressive to see the band continue to deliver consist material, album after album.