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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Stormtroopers of Death

Rise of the Infidels

Review by Gary Hill

There used to be a time when punks and metal heads would literally fight each other. I’d like to think that Stormtroopers of Death were one of the bands that calmed the tide by giving fans some common musical ground.

S. O. D. were sort of a spoof side project of Anthrax. Originally planned as a one-off thing it caught on and they built up a following, turning them into a real band. S. O. D. is now gone, but this disc includes some unreleased tracks and a live show. It shows the first efforts at combining punk and metal into one unified form of music. The lyrics are intentionally humorous, reflecting the band’s sense of humor, but the music is raw and aggressive. I know some people lump these guys in as metal, but frankly they are far more punk, so I don’t include them in the metal category. This makes a great introduction to the band for uninitiated and a welcome addition to any S. O. D. fan’s collection. It should be noted that if you’ve got kids, you probably don’t want them listening to this due to the language.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2007 Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Stand Up and Fight
This is a short and aggressive cut that’s exactly what you expect from S. O. D. . The “whoa, oh, oh” segment is a nice touch.
Java Amigo
This track is less punk and more metal than the opener. It has a slower tempo and a cool bouncy feel. Mind you, this is the first segment of the track. The chorus is in the rapid-fire punk burst approach that always reminds me of Suicidal Tendencies or hardcore bands. This is a fun piece of music.
United and Strong
Here we get one that’s pure hardcore punk. Fast and furious is the order of business here, but the chorus is slower and with a more metal approach.
Ready to Fight
More slow paced punk on the verses, the chorus is another rapid-fire one. There is a cool bass break on this one. It’s one of the catchier pieces on show here.
Ballad of Nirvana - March of the S. O. D.
The first of the live tracks, the band is introduced and plod through a couple measures of music. During which they shout, “Ballad of Nirvana.” This is followed by “Thank you very much, goodnight.” Now, if that doesn’t show off their sense of humor, I don’t know what does. Of course, they weren’t really done and instead launch into another hard edged grind in the form of “March of S. O. D.” This is heavy as hell and driven by a pounding distorted bass guitar. It’s also very cool. I really dig the fast paced section that takes it later.
Sgt. D and the S.O.D.
Coming straight out of the previous piece, this is fast and mean. It’s raw metal in terms of the music, but the vocals are hardcore punk.
Kill Yourself
Here we get another frantic slab of S. O. D. music. This one doesn’t vary a lot from some of the other stuff, but works quite well.
Milano Mosh
I love the groove that makes up this track. In fact, this is one of my favorites here. It turns to a hardcore noise fest as it carries on, but this thing just plain rocks.
Speak English or Die
The title track to their first album, this track is a killer. A nice addition here is when the song is being introduced. Apparently someone in the crowd said or did something. I can’t tell you what it was, but he is told, “wait for a song, dude, f***ing idiot!” Crude that it is, it’s funny and really shows just what this band was about. This is such a killer slab of metallic punk that it’s almost unbelievable how powerful and timeless it is. This is probably my favorite track on the whole disc. It’s also one of the more dynamic numbers, moving through a number of different timings and sections.
F**k the Middle East
With an introduction denouncing S.O.D.’s responsibility in any crisis in the world, they quote Robert Plant by saying, “this is a song of hope.” This is no “Stairway to Heaven,” though. In fact, I’d have to say with the whole fanatic Islamic call to Jihad over any sort of perceived slight, S.O.D. is probably high on their list of targets. Musically it’s not a big change from the rest of the disc, but hey, it’s fun.
Ballad of Jimi Hendrix
Here we get a twisted S.O.D. take on Hendrix’ “Foxy Lady.” It’s quite short and leads straight into the next one.
Ballad of Jim Morrison
Another brief one, S.O.D. take on “Roadhouse Blues” for a whole seventeen seconds before moving to their next tribute.
Ballad of INXS
Fans of Michael Hutchence probably won’t like this little ditty that pokes fun at his untimely demise.
Ballad of Frank Sinatra
Here they take a quick stab at the idol of swing.
Ballad of Nirvana
We get a bonus version of “Ballad of Nirvana.”
Ballad of Freddy Mercury
Based on “We Will Rock You,” it’s another slam on a dead guy.
Cromatic Death
After the little reprieve, it feels good to jump back into a smoking slab of S. O. D. hardcore punk metal.
Fist Banging Mania
This comes straight out of the last cut and is another killer track. It starts with a smoking riff and then shifts out into some frantic punk.
Mother
John Wetton, one of the cooler voices in prog, provides both the bass and vocals on this track. Alan White's drums drive the percussion and B. Sherwood performs acoustic and electric guitars while Adrian Belew's guitar takes the lead. This is another nice updating capturing the spirit of the song, but with a modern texture.
No Turning Back
More metallic than some of the other stuff, this is another highlight of the disc. We get a lot of stage banter in the midst of and after this one.
Milk
An awesome, super-heavy bass sound leads this off. They wander around on this for a few measures then speed it up to near sludge – but very tasty sludge. This has a long stage banter section, too.
P***y Whipped
Heavy and stalking, this comes in with a very cool riff and one of the more metallic sounds of the disc. The chorus is very much more in the punk style, though. The instrumental grind is a killer, too.
Freddy Krueger
Hey, this guy needs his own song, right? It’s another trademark slab of S.O.D. powerhouse musical insanity.
United Forces
They close things with another scorching mosh.
 
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