Sodom – Genesis XIX Review

Now that you’ve got some Sodom in you, the band’s newest release is finally here. Genesis XIX is fifty-five minutes of Sodomy goodness. Rumbling bass and rattling vocals, blistering-fast solos and guitar-shredding, and kit-work make war themes even more war-like. Since 1987, Sodom has been on a pretty steady release schedule. And, not a lot has changed in that time. Even their lineup shifts have been minimal. Yet, their humor and aggression have become more exaggerated over the years. That said, things have really changed lately. After eight full-lengths, from 1997’s To Death Do Us Unite to 2016’s Decision Day, guitarist Bernd “Bernemann” Kost is gone. Fired, he said, along with drummer Markus Freiwald. Shortly after, Angelripper brings on old-time guitarist Frank “Blackfire” Gosdzik (1987’s Expurse of Sodomy EP to 1989’s Ausgebombt EP) full-time. Then he rounds it out with two young-ins. Genesis XIX will be the first time in thirty years Blackfire has recorded a full-length with Sodom. It’ll also be the first time in the band’s storied career to have two guitarists. What will these changes do to the Sodom sound? Obviously, Angelripper sees life coming back to the band. But are four just one too many? And how many more war-themed thrash riffs does Ole Tom have left in him?

Head-over-heels for this young blood and reconnection with Blackfire, Sodom knocked out back-to-back EPs in 2018 and 2019 to showcase the band’s new material. Both EPs saw Husky (Asphyx, ex-Desaster) on the drums. Then, he left to make room for Toni Merkel.1 The results were satisfying enough, and it sparked a desire to write a full-length release. If anything can be said about Genesis XIX, it’s that Sodom’s energy is up. You can even feel it as they punch out the useless, minute-long instrumental opener “Blind Superstition.” A song that awkwardly transitions into follow-up “Sodom & Gomorrah.” So, that’s my first beef with Genesis XIX. But, the band makes up for it with “Sodom & Gomorrah.” It’s a fun piece, written by the wilder side of Sodom. It even shreds along for four minutes with the black ‘n’ thrash sound of older Toxic Holocaust. It’s safe to say this song is the most fun of the album—threatened only by the punkish “Indoctrination.” But, while the latter has some fitting bass work and in-your-face gang shouts, the former is the more memorable of the two.

Along with the fun numbers, you’ll find a mix of songs that could be on other Sodom albums. “Euthanasia,” for example, has that build-up to a chorus that reminds me of the late ’80s Sodom. Right before the chorus, I thought the instruments would cut-out, and Angelripper would belt out the chorus to “Incest,” “Conqueror,” or “Sodomy and Lust.” Instead, you get a new song that’s tapped into the old Sodom vein. Along those lines, you also get catchy pieces in the likes of “Nicht Mehr Mein Land” and closer “Friendly Fire.” The first is a plodder with that classic Sodom march found on most of their records. It’s the foot-tapper of the album. But “Friendly Fire” is the headbanger of the album. It’s easily one of my favorite Sodom songs in the last twenty years. Taking nods from the likes of M-16, “Friendly Fire” sits in the wonderful company of vicious war anthems like “Cannon Fodder” and “Among the Weirdcong.”

Of the longer, more epic pieces on the album, the Moby Dick-inspired “The Harpooner” and real-life Vietnam story “Waldo & Pigpen” have my vote. Both songs near the seven-minute mark and—mostly—don’t disappoint. They both have addictive choruses and travel a sound-wave shaped journey. They also have that battle-passion power you get from Angelripper’s voice. The tension builds and falls, but the emotion in Tom’s voice never fades. You can tell from his voice that he’s behind the songs 100%. You can also feel that behind “Glock ‘n’ Roll,” even if the song’s best parts are the neat mid-section guitar leads and solos.

Unfortunately, some of these longer songs—especially “Genesis XIX”—don’t quite grip me after repeat listens. And other tracks, like “Blind Superstition,” do nothing for me. But, beyond these qualms, the thing that sticks out the most is the change in production. While more-recent releases have been heavy as fuck, Genesis XIX is not. This time around, the mix has that sharp, old-school sound to it. While pleasing for older fans, its raw character may be a shocker to those used to the sound of In War and Pieces and Decision Day. To these ears, that’s not a negative observation. I’ve always felt that rough, piercing guitar sound of old worked better with Angelripper’s voice. Genesis XIX ain’t their best, but you can feel the renewed energy and passion in the band’s sound. And, after forty-fucking-years, that’s worth something. I joked in the primer that “here’s to another forty years” to Sodom. And, by God, Angelripper might be aiming to do just that.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kb/s mp3
Label: Steamhammer Records
Websites: | |
Releases Worldwide: November 27th, 2020

Show 1 footnote

  1. Most likely brought over by Blackfire due to his contributions to the Frank Blackfire solo project.
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