Heavy New Jersey speed metal band Blood Feast are attempting a comeback just like every other 80s and early 90s c-list metal band. I’m so excited!
A few years ago a mallcore band named Waking the Harbinger posted demo tracks on Metal Archives. The music was assailed by regulars whose corrective actions coerced the young upstarts into adopting a formulaic approach to Malevolent Creation and Cannibal Corpse tier artistry. Ossuary Insane play relentlessly empty upgraded pizza parlor speed metal with all the bells and whistles of intensity innovated by that movement within the metal tradition.
After Slayer‘s foray into narrative composition on Hell Awaits, Slayer could have taken any number of directions in the then fertile metal landscape: gone in for the throat of aggression, matured their pubescent approach to long-form content, or paired down on riff quality for focused but circular songs. Reign in Blood was something of a compromise bred to appease more Floridian tastes which crave motion before coherence or purpose. The album is brief but bookended by two of the better songs in their discography which daftly elevate the questionable content residing in between. The remaining material siphons off of the paired down and quintessential “Angel of Death” by meandering in whatever assortment of good but disconnected riffs the Hanneman/King dichotomy happened upon in between Heinekens; held together in tacit alliances by a sweltering pace which exhausts itself right as the title track closes the record. The foresight required to write an album such as this is commendable but Reign in Blood is not Slayer’s watershed moment if for nothing more than the sheer amount of disposable songs – not riffs – which constitute the majority of the runtime. This uncomfortable fact goes unrecognized due to the sheer brevity of this work. Yet as I wrote this brief paragraph I must have recited the full album in my head at least a few times and I have not listened to the album is many years. May the resolve of Reign in Blood’s memetic warfare continue to withstand assailants from the ever flowing genre compost bin and grant listeners to the strength to withstand the torrents of nature herself.
Now that a thorough overview of Sodom’s career has been completed, and a short analysis from that overview has provided us with new insights, we can be more confident in our evaluation of their new album, Decision Day, in a way that allows us to tentatively explain the origin of its strengths and faults. This becomes especially useful with an album displaying averageness on all levels, showing no prominent ideas that distinguish it neither in the abstract nor the actualized, and furthermore, certainly not being more than the sum of its parts. The situation is one in which all that remains are the references that these streamlined and pre-fabricated pieces meant in their original contexts, and how this commercial product attempts to play on them for maximizing revenue.
Sodom has earned a solid reputation among the metal crowd through the years. Most fans of the metal underground will probably have heard about Sodom, or that of Tom Angelripper, and will express respect at the mere mention of either name. Their newest album displays traits which one would associate with their own brand of speed metal (a.k.a. thrash metal, incorrectly dubbed), but these seem filtered through mannerisms borrowed from styles acquired over the last two decades and a half while Tom Angelripper explored the mainstream side of metal. Decision Day is catchy, and every step and turn is a hook optimized for comprehensibility and mass consumption.
To be fair, one must approach judgement of a legendary and veteran band such as Sodom, with care, so that their present actions are seen in light of the road they have tread. In this spirit, it is appropriate that we go over the band’s career, taking a brief look at each step of their evolution so as to get a picture of how the band came to be as we see it and hear them today on Decision Day. If we are to start from the very beginning, we have to look back to their very first demo released in 1984, Victims of Death, which stands in an area between Metallica – Kill ‘Em All and Bathory’s self-titled debut album. Sodom’s first step is closer to contemporary hardcore punk than speed metal, which affords them a certain street credibility.
It’s ten thirty, you’ve just park your primer printed Ford Escort next to a mail box. As you approach the house party, you hear the faint but present rolling of open e rumbling which causes your fist to clench; unconsciously clamping the thirty rack of PBR you are carrying with heightened anticipation. As you approach the house, the scent of tobacco and descending drum fills leaks through the cracked garage door while brief phrases of frantic power chords begin alighting a fire deep inside… Insane fun awaits.
The original lineup of Canadian speed metal band Exciter is performing together for the first time since 1985 at the 2016 Calgary Metalfest.