One Night In Bangkok
Can you believe I’d never given Sodom a sustained listen before? Sure I knew the famous numbers (“Agent Orange,” et al), but I never gave their canon a long, sustained listen. One Night In Bangkok handily solved that problem with a two-disc live recording of their “greatest hits” (can you even say that for a fucking loud thrash band?) and everything in between, with some fabulous fidelity and quality for a band that proudly wears its musical sloppiness and enthusiasm for alcoholic beverages on its puke-stained leather sleeve. Well, fuck me then, I’m a convert.
So the story is this: in the midst of a brief promotional swing in Thailand, Sodom vocalist/bassist Tom Angelripper and his colleagues (Bobby and Bernemann) decided to play a club gig for laughs. Five-hundred faithful Asian metalheads and one packed club later, they decide to record the whole damn thing for surreal posterity. And no matter how drunk they were when they made the decision, it was a fucking good choice. What are they, like twenty years old as a band now? And they sound wayyyyy tighter and, of course, heavier than most of the “young guns” currently clogging up an Ozzfest near you.
The performance of “The Saw Is The Law,” complete with the sound of the audience losing their shit as the first chords cut through their ears, is utterly transcendent. Overwhelming power running headlong into insanely addictive riffs and a chorus you can learn in about three seconds. Sodom taps into the same dumb exhilaration vein as The Stooges, The Ramones and Motorhead — this is muscular instinctual brilliance that even a child could duplicate, but too few do, sadly. As was par for the course in old school metal, there are moments of bizarre Spinal Tap-inspired comedy. Like every song title being shrieked out by Angelripper in the dread Cookie Monster voice. Or when Angelripper introduces the band one at a time, and the air is suddenly filled with surreal chants of “Bobby! Bobby! Bobby!” Bobby’s not exactly the most brutal of stage names, as far as metal goes, is it? But it doesn’t even demystify Sodom; it makes them seem even cooler, if anything. You write “Agent Orange,” and you can do whatever you want, forever.
When Angelripper dedicates the peerless “Remember The Fallen” to “all the people who died in all the senseless wars all over the fucking world,” man I get chills. A song like that IS effective political protest. The first wave of thrash (Megadeth, Anthrax, Nuclear Assault, Coroner, Voivod, Sodom) had a very strong humanist bent, don’t forget. Drink beer and listen to songs as brilliant as “Blasphemer” instead of getting shot at by “enemies” you can’t even see? Man, no contest.
Much like the recent Nuclear Assault live document, this is to show all the upstarts how it’s really done; and that, yes, Sodom can pull off a 23-song show, even as the members of the group lurch toward middle age with clearly decimated livers. But I think Sodom’s reasoning is slightly different in that this isn’t a reunion; they never went anywhere, they just put their heads down and banged away more and more songs. Consider this a shot acoss the bow of metal, time to give credit where credit is due. With their armor-plated cover of Motorhead’s “Ace Of Spades,” Sodom’s dedication to preserving (and bettering) the metal that inspired them to pick up instruments in a drunken haze all those years ago becomes touchingly clear. I’m surprised that Sodom didn’t do for alcoholism what Minor Threat did for straight edge. The purity of intent and execution is so admirable that even Lemmy would be touched. If I drank, I’d raise my glass to you, fellas, as it is, I think I’ll just bow my head in total reverence instead.
E-fucking-ssential as oxygen.