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Sodom - "Epitome Of Torture" (CD)

Sodom - "Epitome Of Torture" CD cover image

"Epitome Of Torture" track listing:

1. My Final Bullet
2. S.O.D.O.M.
3. Epitome Of Torture
4. Stigmatized
5. Cannibal
6. Shoot Today – Kill Tomorrow
7. Invocating The Demons
8. Katjuscha
9. Into The Skies Of War
10. Tracing The Victim
11. Waterboarding (Bonus Track)
12. Splitting The Atom (Bonus Track)

Reviewed by on May 8, 2013

"Sodom dares the listener to try to stay still, a task with odds that sink below 1%. Thou simply must headbang!"

As the “Teutonic Big Four” all turn thirty (Kreator, Destruction, Sodom and Tankard), all four are still going strong, releasing albums worthy of three decades of greatness. Oddly, the ones who steered clear of calling these albums “30th Anniversary” albums have been winners. Destruction and Tankard both announced it as such, and though each had very good releases, it didn’t live up to the hype of a 30th anniversary release. Kreator released one of its finest albums ever in “Phantom Antichrist,” all but dismissing the “occasion.” Sodom has never even mentioned anniversary with this new album (having celebrated with the more appropriate lavish boxset in 2012) and now has presented one of the finest slabs of thrash to drop this year (and many previous). After the throttling of the senses procured by “Epitome of Torture,” the album should be renamed “Epitome of Thrash” for those bands, new and old, who dare to play it.

The new release comes three years after another of Sodom’s finest albums, “In War and Pieces,” which brought back some of that catchiness that was diminished with previous releases. Sodom has failed to release a bad album ever, however between “’Til Death Do Us Unite” (1997) to “Sodom” (2006) there was a slight lack of that absolute memorability that the band conjured up with “Persecution Mania,” “Agent Orange” and “Better Off Dead.” “In War and Pieces” restored that direction, which had that ever so slight seasoning of melody. As good as “IWaP” was, “Epitome of Torture” is far superior in its ability to take every aspect of Sodom’s career and fuse it all together like a human meat suit stitched together by Leatherface.

The ruthlessness is dialed up a notch…a chainsaw riff assault capable of gutting the listener into a bludgeoned filled frenzy of gore. “My Final Bullet” starts with arcane slowness before spiraling downward into a chrome glistened helicopter rotor of shanks shredding your face. Tom Angelripper roars with a downburst not unlike Chuck Billy on "Low." The serration never lets up as “S.O.D.O.M.” tears your gut, this time with Onkel Tom sporting his typical sharpened, but crystal coherent, vocal style. “Stigmatized” is one of the most savage numbers I have heard from the band. “Cannibal” and “Katjuscha” take the bloody cake, representing the first top 10 worthy songs I’ve heard since “The Saw is the Law.”

The capital punishment is ceaseless…you cannot compete with the tommy gun riff of “Shoot Today-Kill Tomorrow,” the most melodiously complex number “Invocating the Demons” (with its sneaky acceleration), and the breakdown of “Tracing the Victim.” Highly recommended is the limited edition digipak, which offers the bonus tracks “Waterboarding” and “Splitting the Atom,” two songs that are more than worthy of making an album, especially the former – since it already represents one of my personal favorite Sodom songs, housing a destructive riff that I pray makes the band’s live set.

The superiority of German thrash cannot be described with words: it must be heard. However, what makes it so endearing is the ongoing hilarity of the English pronunciations. Sure, switching “v’s” and “w’s” still garners a chuckle every time it is heard, but nothing prepared me for the godly pronunciation of “Epitome” that Angelripper spews forth: “Epi-Tomb….Epi-Tomb of Torture.” This is all part of the perfect memorability. Add to that immaculate production qualities and flawless sound, and this is what thrash should be.

While much of the public drools over Testament’s “Dark Roots of Earth” (and rightfully so), I wonder how many fans of remarkable acumen would take that most blasphemous step of elevating “Epitome of Torture” to the same plateau…one that bestows upon the German thrash gods the attention and praise that comes with a resume of 30+ years of greatness. Sodom dares the listener to try to stay still, a task with odds that sink below 1%. Thou simply must headbang!

Highs: One of the best thrash releases of 2013 by far.

Lows: Modern thrash fans will find old school...well, old.

Bottom line: After 30+ years, Sodom shows the world the "Epitome of Thrash."

Rated 5 out of 5 skulls
5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)