After a two-year hiatus since their last album, ‘Til Death Do Us Unite , Germany’s legendary Sodom return to the fold with the quintessentially predictable Code Red . But to be predictable isn’t necessarily a bad thing: ’tis far better to milk a tried n’ true formula that actually works (best example: the sorely-missed Jesus and Mary Chain) than bandy about with concept albums, textural exploration, and other high falutin’ gobbledygook.
That said, it comes as no surprise, then, that along with contemporaneous countrymen Kreator, Sodom laid down – in the mid ’80s, no less – the prototypes for the black- and death-metal scenes to follow years later. Whereas said countrymen these days have slowed down their previous frenzy and now allow the power overload to breathe all the more effectively, Sodom have (un-?)wittingly continued to churn away to the same tune, hitting their apex with 1989’s stellar Agent Orange (arguably, the best metal record of the ’80s) and leaving the repeat button on ever since.
Which, again, isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because Sodom’s speed-metal is a cantankerous one – singular in its urgency, breakneck in its breathlessness – guaranteed to leave newcomers absolutely bewildered. Ever so tightly wound, the band thrashes away on Code Red with no reliance on trite blastbeats or calculus-complicated riffs, the most exemplary head-rushes here being “The Wolf and the Lamb,” “What Hell Can Create,” and the title track. Though no Sodom chugger will ever eclipse the epic “Remember the Fallen” (from Agent Orange ), they now appear more confident at slower tempos, surprisingly remaining nearly as powerful on “Tombstone” (the self-same chorus almost sounds like “coleslaw”!) and “The Voice of Killing.” And though they don’t touch on the Motorhead-ish punk n’ roll that constituted much of 1990’s Better Off Dead (and both of mainman Tom Angelripper’s two solo albums), Sodom, after nearly two decades, would more or less still sound like Sodom even if they had – rarely has familiarity been so comforting.
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