I have no idea why I stay faithful to this band. I probably have too much money to burn or something. Ever since Frank Blackfire left the band after 1989's "Agent Orange", Sodom have been releasing CDs with a regularity almost as lacking variety as their songs. The only thing that seems to change are their line-ups. Delving back in my CD collection to gather some Sodom-lore tells me that they've had three drummers (Chris Witchhunter, Atomic Steif and one Bobby), seven guitarists (Grave Violator, Destructor, Blackfire, Michael Hoffmann, Andy Brings, one Strahli and one Bernemann) and, um, one bassist. Line-up changes are common in bands surrounding volatile egos that also happen to be musically brilliant (Ritchie Blackmore, Yngwie Malmsteen), but I know of few other bands that seem to revolve around a mediocre bass player who cannot sing particularly well, nor write especially excellent songs. A bassist who, additionally, is a sexist pig of a man who occasionally likes to write German-language songs with dubious titles such as "Bombenhagel", "Stalinorgel", "Die Stumme Ursel" and, let's keep the best one for last, "Aber Bitte Mit Sahne" (I won't bother you with their equally inane translations). But what is it then, pray tell, that keeps you buying the trash this band churns out (I hear you ask)?

Each and every Sodom album is like the aural equivalent of one of those things Stonehenge is made of. Sexist or not, flirting with fascism even (doubtlessly this means I don't understand the band and what they're all about, but there's a lot of us), you get the average of three quarters of an hour of sonic genocide with the occasional, very rewarding, flash of brilliance. Also, something that didn't make me think twice about purchasing this particular album, the first (limited) edition has a 60+ minute bonus CD, "Homage to the Gods - a Tribute to Sodom". Fifteen more or less well-known bands play their interpretations of classic Sodom songs.

"Code Red" is, when you get down to the nitty gritty, more of the same. Again a stampede bursts through your head, demolishing your eardrums savagely. Tom screams his nuts off, Bobby drums fast and tight, Bernemann plays guitar and at times plays something that we haven't heard before.

No, the bonus CD is what's interesting. Of the fifteen tracks, only two or three are a letdown (most notably the atrocious vocals on Goddess of Desire's "Bombenhagel"). Those who have the "Cruelty and the Beast" Celtic Cross version will already know Cradle of Filth's "Sodomy and Lust". If not, this is your chance to get it. It's good. Further highlights are Brutal Truth's "Sepulchral Voice" (a cool version of my all-time-favourite Sodom track back from the mid eighties), Enthroned's "Conqueror" and Luciferion's "Blasphemer" (played at the same speed as "Fight Fire with Fire" on "Metal Militia I", i.e. fast!). Interesting but a bit odd is Randalica's "Ausbruch des Bosen", a German version of the classic "Outbreak of Evil" (which is also on the CD, played by Atanatos). A very interesting CD.

The rating is going to be complex. To use the immortal words of Samuel L., "Hold on to your butts."

If you can still get your hands on the double CD limited edition:

Click here to check out or buy this CD

If you already have most of them, and the double CD is sold out (DAMN!):

After a couple more listens:

Actually, "Code Red" may be one of the better Sodom albums of the past handful. Guitar riffs are more varied, but the only thing that still holds back the overall performance is Tom Angelripper's vocals - always the same note, always the same shouting, sounding like all previous albums.

If you already have most of them, and the double CD is sold out (DAMN!):



Written July 1999


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