Sodom - "Agent Orange (Reissue)" (CD)
"Agent Orange (Reissue)" track listing:
1. Agent Orange (6:05)
2. Tired And Red (5:28)
3. Incest (4:39)
4. Remember The Fallen (4:21)
5. Magic Dragon (5:59)
6. Exhibition Bout (3:36)
7. Ausgebombt (3:05)
8. Baptism Of Fire (4:04)
9. Don't Walk Away (Tank cover) (2:55)
1. Incest (live) (4:19)
2. Agent Orange (live) (5:26)
3. Tired And Red (live) (5:01)
4. Remember The Fallen (live) (4:05)
5. Ausgebombt (live) (3:47)
6. Ausgebombt (German version) (3:07)
Reviewed by Cynic on November 30, 2010
What kind of band writes a song called "Incest?" Why, a band called Sodom of course. War, death, and hellish torments of all kind are the fodder for the ever marching German thrash giants, and on “Agent Orange” Tom Angel Ripper, Frank Blackfire and Chris Witchhunter (R.I.P.) truly mastered their art.
While not turning this review into spiel about classic thrash albums, it is fair to say that Sodom's "Agent Orange" is one of the few albums that is consistently thrown out as one of thrash metal's finest achievements. The album features eight tracks of all killer no filler thrash, straight out of 1989 and giving no excuses. In these days of dime a dozen retro thrash bands with reproduction of the sound down to a science, does it still stand out? Hell. Yes. There is just something un-recreatable about the way these songs are composed. Are they brilliant with Bach like technicality? Or Brian Eno styled atmosphere? Hell. No. This is unrelenting, aggressive thrash. Catchy yet not particularly melodic and packed full of riffs fermented in the minds of German madmen since youth without any external or modern persuasions.
That's not to say that speed is the only master here. "Remember The Fallen," which is one of my all time favourite thrash songs, is a relatively mid-paced ode to the dead heroes of whose misery and slaughter Sodom focuses most of their lyrical material on. "Ausgembomt" is another special track worth mentioning for being a blast of punk in the middle of the album and serves as a nice break sort of like "Angel of Disease" on Morbid Angel's "Covenant" album. Other than a few mid-paced sections, however, it's balls to the wall Teutonic thrashing with that ever so slightly blackened fray, especially in the vocals.
Unlike Sodom's previous efforts up until the release of this album, the production was for once of proper studio quality. In fact “Agent Orange” is extremely dryly cut and generally, well, well produced. Unfortunately "well produced" thrash of this era means the mix is quite sterile in comparison to the rough around the edges sound of their previous masterpiece "Persecution Mania" (or perhaps the even gnarlier "Pleasure To Kill" by countrymen Kreator). It might have worked for a Morrisound Studios' styled death metal band or on Sepultura's “Arise” album, but you can't help but feel the repetitive Sodom styled thrash doesn't fit as perfectly as it did with a bit of grit.
This is of course a reissue and in this day and age that means bonus tracks (or bonus disc in this case). Putting the surprisingly brutal live tracks on a second disc in a fantastic looking fold out digipak is a really nice touch and a cover of the NWOBHM band Tank just sweeten the deal.
Many will fight you to the death over whether this is Sodom's best release or not, but that's generally because Sodom has always attracted hordes of dirt loving Luddites who cherish the magical primordial soup of extreme raw death/black/thrash sounds that bubbled so strongly in the late 80s and was present on other Sodom releases. That's a strange way of saying to every other normal thrash fan “Agent Orange” is hands down the king of the Sodomites. For either group, having this album is essential – No excuses!
Highs: "Agent Orange" is one of the few albums that ever rivaled Kreator and Sepultura at their own game.
Lows: Judging the classics to a higher standard - the production is quite dry and “Pleasure To Kill” will always edge out “Agent Orange.”
Bottom line: Mandatory thrash: strap on your flamethrower and soak up the "Agent Orange."
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