Stormtroopers of Death

Stormtroopers of Death

Bigger Than the Devil

Nuclear Blast

First impression: album of the year and certainly one of the top ten of the decade, maybe number one. No, make that probably, as there are only a few months left… Is there anyone who can match the might of S.O.D.?

No!

Can anyone match their ability to turn a bunch of between song nonsense into a full-on heavy metal (I believe the term used at one time was “speed metal”) magnum opus?

No!

Let us begin with the tributes: On their first record, Speak English or Die! , this conglomeration of Scott Ian and Charlie Benante (Anthrax), Dan Lilker (ex-Anthrax, ex-Nuclear Assault, ex-Brutal Truth, now with Hemlock) and Billy Milano (M.O.D.) recorded the poignant “Ballad of Jimi Hendrix” that went something like this: “[hum the intro to ‘Purple Haze’] and then two words: “you’re dead.” End of song. Is that not brilliance? Oh yes it is, you wankers! Well, on Bigger Than the Devil , they include two similar numbers, the “Ballad of Michael H.” (that is, the late INXS vocalist) and the “Ballad of Phil H.” (that is, the late SNL comedian). The former is quite well deserved, but the latter, while kind of in bad taste, is clearly an oration as the intro music is a metal version of The Simpsons ‘ opening theme. There’s even a “doh!” at the song’s end.

Now that takes ‘nads, people.

The album opens with the title track, which builds on the cover art, a parody of Iron Maiden’s Number of the Beast record, with the S.O.D. Mascot, Sergeant D., pulling the strings of a grinning Satan marionette who’s engaged in blasphemy. Who’s bigger than the devil? Why Sergeant D., of course, bigger than Allah, bigger than…

Now, there’s twenty-five songs on Bigger Than the Devil , which I know might seem like not enough, considering some are less than ten seconds long… Of special note, in additional to marvelous songs like “King at the King” (next time you’re at a Burger King drive-thru, sing your order…), “Kill the Assholes,” “Free Dirty Needles,” “Make Room, Make Room,” — all totally moshable with lots of blasts and crunches — there’s a real masterpiece of metal called “Celtic Frosted Flakes.” It’s a total roast of Celtic Frost (a band, for those not in the know — I cracked up just seeing the song title!) and it goes like this: “What ever happened to Celtic Fro-ost?/ Is it true that they got lo-ost?/ IN THE PANDEMONIUM/ Never to be seen again/ Tom Warrior fell from a tree in a Cherry Orchard…” OK, so that’s kind of cryptic, but anyone who knows Celtic Frost will get the joke.

To round it out, they’ve included a collage of candid band photos, one of which is Scott Ian sitting next to Thomas Gabriel Warrior!

Nuclear Blast America, P.O. Box 43618, Philadelphia, PA 19106; http://www.nuclearblast-usa.com

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