Sodom – Interview and Review Genesis XIX
After a full day of promotion, a job that the good Tom Angelripper likes, he is still in a good mood at 18:30.
In this interview Tom talks at the same pace as he plays his music, which was both thankful and professional. We managed to cover most of the songs on the album properly. Also, some other topics surrounding the songs and the process that is making the album. The Sodom Bass player and singer is very particular about his legacy and the present version of Sodom. You can hear when talking to him that Sodom is his pride and joy. With 16 studio albums under their belt you can both see why and also admire the ever-present dedication.
Blind Superstition Intro:
T: When we were starting to do the setlist for the shows which were cancelled, we came up with the idea of doing a record around this intro. We wanted to show people what era we are from. We are from the eighties you know.
Sodom & Gomorra:
T: One of my favorite songs on the album. Kind of 80´ arrangement, the song is about the destruction of Sodom & Gomorra. I do not think it was destroyed by god, but it is just a Sodom song.
T: Typical Frank Blackfire guitar driven song. Frank is a guitarist who never really changed. The riff could easily have been on “Agent Orange”. There is always the same sound from his guitar. He is writing good guitar riffs. I like this song, a typical thrash song. There is a difference between Frank & Yorck Segatz in writing songs. Yorck is a young metalhead. Yorck is more inspired by black & death metal.
We go a bit of the song list here and Tom starts talking about the new line-up and the new openings with two guitarists.
T: Having 2 guitarist’s in a band makes a big difference, you can write a lot of different songs. I was always thinking about having two guitarists’ in the band, and when Frank came back the timing was right. During the first live show with two guitarists we had a better sound. My bass is very loud, but it can not replace that second guitar. We can now change our setlist with more variety with two guitarists. We can now do songs we have not done before because of that.
We quickly move on towards the title track of the album:
T: This song was also on the EP (“Out of the Frontline Trench”) that was released earlier, rerecorded with our new drummer. The EP was like a presentation to this new album. We wanted to play it in our way as a new constellation since it had changed after the EP. Toni Merkel´s way of playing the drums is completely different than Husky. This was a good opening song for us during the last batch of gigs with Exodus & Death Angel. It has everything, different stuff in the song, different brakes, speed parts and slower parts.
Nicht mehr mein land:
T: When we started to write this, I had English lyrics to it, but we changed it because we wanted to have German lyrics to a thrash song. I mean why not, I am German. I wanted to write some lyrics where I can talk about the situation in the world we are living in. In my opinion everything is getting out of control. It is not political, I cannot change anything, I am not politically active. But I can scream it out. That I am scared for my kids, for the next generation. The song has some blast beats in it as well, I mean why not. We now have a drummer who can do that within his style of playing the drums.
Here Tom goes off a little bit with developing the thinking and philosophy behind the music, the writing of both songs and utilizing the strengths of the bandmembers.
T: 1982 we were the heaviest and fastest band in the world. There is no category for us writing songs. There is no problem for us doing slower songs, or blast beats or fast songs. If it is a good song and it has a good chorus line to it, I have got to do it.
I think that the above answer is something that Tom would be able to talk about for hours, you can even feel the enthusiasm through the telephone. It might be an idea for the future.
We move on:
Glock n´ Roll:
T: I like the evil guitar-riff. Not a typical Sodom song. Really, really evil song. Glock is a pistol you know. The name of the song came from a conversation with a friend at a shooting song.
T: This song is about Captain Ahab. It is about the difference between the senseless slaughtering of whales compared to just catch one whale to survive. It is based on an amazing book. A good theme to write a song about. It reflects my attitude towards the hunting for food not for pleasure.
T: This is the most aggressive song. This is where I can use the changing in my lyrics, I can scream and shout or growl, and in this song, it is between screaming and growling. I told the other guys in the band that songs like this is what we need to do more.
T: There are so many different riffs in this one. Sometimes it is enough with one or two riffs, and sometimes you use four or five. We are always interested in how the song writing and arrangements were in the 80´s. I like how you can hear songs from the 80´s by for example Venom and you like it but you don´t know why. So that´s why we try to write songs like in the 80´s. Here we also have influences from Frank in the guitar from his influences from people like Frank Marino
T: We don´t ever get inspired by other bands when writing songs, I do not know this reference, If I put my vocal and base on a song, it is a Sodom song, nothing else (I mentioned that I thought that the riff at the beginning of the song sounded like Dead Boys – Sonic Reducer). This is a song from Frank. I asked him to write a punk song. It is very untypical with the shouting in the song. The guitar solo in this is really strange as well.
Unfortunately, we did not have time to discuss “Waldo & Pigpen” and “Friendly Fire”. But Tom was nice enough to offer that I send more questions via e-mail to him. That did not happen because I did not send him any more questions.
I did however have time to ask about the recording process and what stood out during that:
T: Recording made with microphones and our old Marshall amps. This was a very important part of the process. We recorded everything with mics and put it into a computer. The sound engineer worked on this with an analogue desk. We converted all the digital files to the analogue desk. This makes a difference. We mix on a desk. There is only original sound, no samples. It is very important to me to catch the original sound that comes from the instruments.
With this the interview was over. I got the feeling from Tom and he also stated as much that he does miss the touring life and the connection with the audience. For now Sodom will have to settle for being 4 local guys from the Ruhr area that at least have the positive of being able to be in the same room to rehearse together and hopefully continue to produce new music that we can see more of in the coming years. Both on album and on a stage.
Sodom – Genesis XIX:
It starts as it means to go on, I guess. A ferocious tempo. Sodom does what Sodom does. An intro that is heavy, not your building up run of the mill intro. Barbwire guitar from the get-go. We go from that into Sodom & Gomorrah that is just what you expect but more. Full on Sodom assault. The rolling drums following the guitar driven start to the song rumbles on in great tempo and Tom sets the bar with his singing from the first tone.
We move on in that great tempo through “Euthanasia” even though that could be a riff lend from Metallica. Maybe Kirk lost his phone in Germany….
Moving on to the title track “Genesis XIX” it holds just what Tom promises in the interview. Tempo changes, riffs and some more aggressive drums comparing it to the previous recording of the song from the EP.
Sodom continues through a few more songs of tempo changes, gloomy settings for the songs but this is a very diverse album in my view. Sodom is the picture of old school of dirty, hard thrash music. This feels like a newer album that has more to offer than I expected from Sodom. Maybe the 2 guitars make a big difference. The more riff based songs on this album gives it another dimension. Bands that have been going for a while can sometimes go on autopilot and just do for doings sake. Label harassing about new releases, demand from fans and such. But both from talking to Tom about the album and listening to it breathes enthusiasm for the music, for the songs and the production of it.
I do think the recording with microphones and throwing the files into an analogue mixing table gives the album a more genuine feeling as well. I am no sound seeker so to speak. But knowing a bit more about the process makes me feel that they got out of the production what they set out to get out of it.
For favorite track I have chosen “Indoctrination”. For the punky feeling, the great riffs, the sing along potential of the song and the general quality of it stands out.
I happen to think that Sodom as a band age with grace and think that they get better and better. Maybe it is because of members change, new blood mixed with traditional Sodom work ethic. Or it is just so that they actually develop and mature the band together and both know and like what they do. I know I like this album and it will probably make it´s way to my top 10 or maybe even 5 when the year is to be summarized.
Title: Genesis XIX
Date of release: 2020-11-27
Stand out track: Indoctrination
Playing time: 56 minutes