It is pretty rare that a new SODOM album doesn't get at least some consideration by critics for year-end top albums lists, at least by the thrash-oriented writers. It is only January, but "In War and Pieces" should be no different. The formula is tweaked from time to time and the Teutonic trio occasionally unveils a fun and/or new idea for a song, but much like MOTÖRHEAD albums, the music of a SODOM release comes with an implied guarantee of quality, reliability, and teeth-baring thrash metal. That is exactly what you get with "In War and Pieces", an album will recall moments from "Agent Orange" to the self-titled album and some points in between, but is more than anything else meat-and-potatoes SODOM as you've heard them in the 21st Century.
"In War and Pieces" also exemplifies a SODOM sound that bites, as in fanged and flesh-tearing. Tom "Angelripper" Such's raspy 'n nasty vocal approach is a central part of that; just the manner in which he snarls the words in that peculiar, accented way of his. The other is the white-hot tone and riff selection of 14-year guitarist Bernd "Bernemann" Kost. Recent albums in particular have come with a guitar sound that would melt the flesh right off your bones if you stood too close, as is the case with the new inferno. Producer Waldemar Sorychta is the right choice too since his knack for capturing guitar tones that pierce ears is well known.
Oh yes, the song selection. "All killer, no filler" is the operative and most fitting cliché for an album that fires not a single blank. First through the gates is a memorable title track that has live-staple written all over it. A handful of songs come with some damn serious groove-riffs, including closer "Styptic Parasite" and, in a big way, "Soul Contraband", which is one of a handful of cuts that sees the threesome incorporating more meat on the compositional bone with subtly epic shades and nuanced playing from Kost. That shading and nuance is a pinch more pronounced on "Through Toxic Veins", "Feigned Death Throes", and "Nothing Counts More than Blood", all of which succeed by offering minor detours that never move the song too far off the well-traveled SODOM course. A song about a mother's farewell to her departing soldier-son called "God Bless You" is worth mentioning as a standout of sorts for its heartfelt and well conceived chorus, while "The Art of Killing Poetry" features a bigger than usual hook and some classy melodies from Kost. And let's not forget a speedy, crushing, and German-tongued ode to the SODOM mascot called "Knarrenheinz".
The stabbing, the tearing, the ripping, and the shredding; it's all here on "In War and Pieces", another SODOM fireball and further indication of the act's continued relevance as German thrash metal icons. Coupled with a new album from DESTRUCTION that is even better, 2011 is already shaping up to be a banner year for thrash metal.