Sunday Old School: Black Metal History Month Part One. German Thrash Metal Kings Sodom
Band Photo: Sodom (?)
As many people are aware, February is Black History Month in the United States of America. Always one to respect cultures and take part in something, we here at MetalUnderground.com are dedicating this month to the history of Black Metal. We will be looking at some of the biggest names in the genre, those who helped to shape it and some of the promising younger black metal bands in the underground.
While American thrash metal has it’s Big Four, with constant debate among fans as to who belongs there and who should be added to expand the number, German thrash metal has always had their Three Kings, who’s reign will never be challenged. We’ve already looked at Destruction, so this week we’ll be examining Sodom, who along with Destruction, proved to be a major influence on black metal as it is known today. The band was formed in 1981 by Tom “Angelripper” Such as an attempt to escape from his job as a coal miner and took much of their inspiration from New Wave Of British Heavy Metal bands such as Venom, Tank and Saxon. After going through a few members, they eventually signed to SPV/Steamhammer Records and released their debut EP, “In The Sign Of Evil,” with a full length album, “Obsessed By Cruelty” following shortly afterwards. The album was widely panned by critics, dismissing the group as a second rate Venom and criticising their occult themed lyrics.
The band were able to change the mind of their detractors with the introduction of Frank "Blackfire" Gosdzik, who brought a more intricate skill to the group and influenced Tom to begin writing more about political themes than the tired and childish demonic themes. The subsequent album, “Persecution Mania” was released in October 1987 and garnered widespread acclaim from critics and heavy metal fans alike. The sound had changed from their previous releases and was now sounding more like fellow countrymen Destruction and Kreator than their early black metal work and as a result, the term “Teutonic thrash metal” came to be. Their success continued when Sodom released “Agent Orange” two years later, which has gone on to become the biggest selling in the group’s career and was the first thrash metal album to enter the German charts. Gosdzik would quit the band soon afterwards however and joined Kreator for a time, leaving Sodom to find a replacement, recruited in the form of former Assassin guitarist Michael Hoffman, with whom they recorded the album, “Better Off Dead,” though he too would leave the band after the record’s release, deciding to make a home for himself in Brazil.
Sodom then decided to take their style in a more death metal direction, culminating in the album, “Tapping The Vein,” which proved to be the last album to feature longtime drummer Chris “Witchhunter,” who was kicked out of the band after the record’s release. While the band found a more than capable new drummer in Holy Moses sticks man Atomic Steif, they were accused of alienating their fan base somewhat with their next two albums, “Get What You Deserve” and “Masquerade In Blood,” which featured a more punk influenced sound than their preceding records. The former album featured the guitar work of Dirk "Strahli" Strahlmeier, who was forced out of the band shortly after the album’s release after being arrested on drug charges. He sadly passed away last month.
Thrash metal then proceeded to creep quietly back into Sodom’s sound with, “’til Death Do Us Unite,” which was more in the vein of crossover thrash than the style the band had become known for. A full return to such sound came in 1999 when the band released, “Code Red,” earning much praise from longtime fans for it’s return to the Teutonic sound. 2001 saw the Three Kings of German thrash tour together for the first time, with Sodom supporting their latest record, “M16.” Unfortunately, the joining of the unholy trinity was not to last long, as Sodom left the tour mid-way, reportedly due to a feud between Tom Angelripper and Destruction frontman, Schmier. Since then, the band has continued to tour around the world and record new music, the most recent of which came in the form of, “In War And Pieces,” which showcases the aggressive thrash metal sound the band has become synonymous with, and cementing their place as one of Germany’s best thrash metal bands.
Sodom - "Agent Orange"
Sodom - "Fuck The Police"
Sodom - "Blasphemer"
Sodom - "Among The Weirdcong"
Sodom - "Surfin' Bird"
Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com for four years and has been a metal fan for ten years, going so far as to travel abroad for metal shows.
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