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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Sodom

M-16

Review by Mike Korn

I don't know what the Krauts are putting in their beer these days, but it seems to have resulted in some amazing thrash metal albums being released. The proud members of the G.O.G. (German Old Guard) are on a rampage and tearing eardrums apart with their best releases in years. Kreator and Destruction have already weighed in and now it's Sodom's turn to get in on the act.

It's hard to believe the band that released such godawful crap like "In the Sign of Evil" years ago can put out such a mature release as "M-16". This is a concept album inspired by the Vietnam War and it was jump-started by the band's tour in Southeast Asia, where they were the first real brutal metal band to play. They were shown actual war sites and even the "Atrocity Museum", which featured stomach-churning artifacts of the conflict. It lit a fire under Angelripper and his boys, because "M-16" blows doors off when it comes to pulverizing, catchy thrash metal. The songs are full of aggression and simple, memorable riffs, and, for a guy with a raspy croak of a voice, Angelripper sure comes up with some fine hooks. The album never lets up the brutality but a song like "Marines" is breath-taking in its all-around accessibility and songcraft. This is a truly dynamic example of classic thrash/death metal!

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2001 Year Book Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Among the Weirdcong
This is a great song! It begins with a military drum-and-bass motif and then whips into the typical ripping Sodom style thrash. That pounding staccato riff under the chorus is sheer brilliance, and will have you headbanging for sure.
I Am the War
There is no let up here, as they blast right into another thrasher. The main riff here is quirky but memorable.
Napalm in the Morning
This appropriately starts with Robert Duvall's famous quote from "Apocalypse Now" and then mutates into a slower-paced pounder with a surprising degree of melody. It's real heavy duty stuff and one of the most mature tracks. This is a mournful metallic lament.
Minejumper
Short and to the point, this is straightforward speed metal, with Tom's vocals sounding particularly sick.

Genocide
One of the more average tracks on the album, this is a bit slower and features some overly familiar riffs. It is not a bad track but not especially good, either.
Little Boy
This shows that Sodom has mastered the art of the catchy thrash metal hook to perfection. It is really catchy stuff and features very nasty, sarcastic lyrics, too.
M-16
Much in the vein of "Napalm in the Morning", this is another slower song that has a melancholy feel to it. It includes plenty of chugga-chugga riffing in classic 80's mode.

Lead Injection
Featuring a variety of speedy riffs, this cut drags on a little too long and could have been trimmed down to four minutes with no loss.

Cannon Fodder
The assault continues with more thrashing mayhem.

Marines
This song will surprise a lot of people. Although quite heavy, it's not standard thrash and it is so catchy and easy to get into, I wonder if radio could even play it. But since this music is not "trendy" enough, don't bet on it. It features a great, great chorus that has the refrain: "Marines, They're fighting for you, Marines, They're dying for you, Keep your water clean, Marines". It also has snatches of sitar and Marine "fighting songs".

Surfin' Bird
The record ends with this hilarious death metal version of the surf rock classic. Angelripper's wild scat vocals remind me of the Ministry track "Jesus Built My Hotrod" and the whole thing is good fun.
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