Tom Angelripper is pissed off, and love him or hate him, the man has a point. Denim-bedecked scenesters (some of whom little more than zygotes when thrash began) are loudly cheering the return of VENOM and CELTIC FROST to active status, yet SODOM ─ a band that stuck it out and never left ─ gears up to release another album, and it's no big deal. How about a little respect for a man who carried the tattered banner of thrash metal when just about everyone else had dropped it? And who, despite the occasional tendency to slip into a faux MOTÖRHEAD vibe, has basically kept the level of quality cranking at a high his fellow pioneers can't touch?
This self-titled rifferama is a mean, meaty record, not entirely content to polka away on an endless thrash beat. Songs like "City of God" stick with a forceful, straight-ahead midpaced tempo, but the riffs never let up, and Angelripper screams with pent-up fury on even these numbers, ravaging each syllable as if he means to rip it from the air with his teeth.
The rest of the band are no slouches ─ the double-kick drums rarely let up on standout tracks like the ferocious "Bibles and Guns", while "Wanted Dead" and "Lords of Depravity" gives the old-schoolers the burst of speed metal they're no doubt clamoring for. Tracks like "Lay Down the Law" may seem slow to someone expecting another "Agent Orange", but the band retains intensity even as they crank these slower songs. There are no real surprises on "Sodom", just the kind of memorable songs and working-class metal these German stalwarts are unmatched at delivering. By the end of closer "The Enemy Inside", all but the most irascible thrashers' appetites should be satisfied.
When looking at '80s bands either coming back or making a stand for relevance in the present day, there's the good (KREATOR), the bad (that last NUCLEAR ASSAULT comes to mind), and the pointless (admit it, do you actually listen to any post-reunion DESTRUCTION albums on a regular basis?). Notch SODOM in the good category ─ they're still delivering high-octane metal. They've evolved, slowly, getting better at what they do without losing sight of their original mission. And with "Sodom", the album, they put a lot of bands half their age to shame.