Saturday, 19 November 2022

ALBUM REVIEW: Sodom, "40 Years At Ward: The Greatest Hell of Sodom"

By: Richard Maw
Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 28/10/2022
Label: Steamhammer SPV

“40 Years At War- The Greatest Hell of Sodom” CD//DD//LP track listing
1. Sepulchral Voice
2. After The Deluge
3. Electrocution
4. Baptism Of Fire
5. Better Off Dead
6. Body Parts
7. Jabba The Hut
8. Gathering Of Minds
9. That’s What An Unknown Killer Diarized
10. Book Burning
11 Genocide
12. City Of God
13. Ashes To Ashes
14. In War And Pieces
15. S.O.D.O.M.
16. Caligula
17. Euthanasia
The Review:
Well, this is a real fan curio! Instead of re-recording an early album… Tom Angelripper and the band have done something different. The seventeen tracks here are all re-recordings. One from each release that the band have done. Whether this idea is tempting to you or not may depend on your previous experiences with re-recordings of any kind.
The pros of this approach first: i) by recording one song from each album, the band cannot be accused of full sacrilege in the same way that, say, Manowar were with the “Kings of Metal” re-recording. ii)The production, playing and overall musical quality is much improved in most cases here.
The cons of this approach: i) the songs exist in their original recorded form and any listener familiar with such original recordings may feel sentimental attachment to them and therefore may not give any re-tread a chance. ii) Re-recording means that to some extent one or other version of the songs becomes redundant in some way.
So, seventeen tracks form the German thrash metallers’ career, played by the latest line-up with the latest recording techniques and sound quality. Honestly? I like the idea. You get kind of a best of comp with a uniform sound and a gateway into the band’s previous work. Now, that’s not to say that I am going to go back and listen to every single one of the albums that these tracks spring from. Neither does it mean I’m going to dispose of my copy of “Obsessed By Cruelty.
How essential is a re-recording of “Euthanasia” from 2020’s “Genesis XIX”?! Hmm; it’s so recent that a live version would have sufficed. At least the band have been consistent in their approach- no exceptions. Let’s dive in.
The tracks here range form the essential (“Sepulchral Voice”, “After the Deluge”, “Electrocution”, “Baptism of Fire”) to the lesser known (“Gathering of Minds”, “That’s What the Unknown Killer Diarized”). Of course, the 80s material shines through as very strong- from “In The Sign of Evil” onwards the band had their own sound, vibe and the influence that they went on to have on black metal (in particular) cannot be denied.
Across the seventeem songs here, it’s all worthwhile material. The band ploughed on through the 90s- I will admit to a lack of familiarity with most of those albums and songs, mind. It must be said, recent efforts have brought the band back in a big way. “Decision Day” was a great album and is represented here by the fearsome “Caligula”
Quite simply, this is enjoyable- it’s fun, it’s raucous, it’s respectful of the original songs- no arrangement changes- and it does what it sets out to do. “40 Years At War” showcases the band across all line ups and records. It cherry picks great songs throughout and gives a new listener a way in and an old listener an update in sound quality. If you are new to Sodom, sure, start here. If you are an avid fan, you’ll buy this anyway. If you are a casual fan then this may inspire you to go through more of their albums. With this release, Sodom’s approach has won the re-recording battle and will no doubt continue to wage their war for years to come.
“40 Years At War- The Greatest Hell of Sodom” is available now 

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