Thursday, January 13, 2011

Sodom - Persecution Mania (1987)

Sodom did not have us waiting for long after the excellent Expurse of Sodomy EP, just two months would pass and it was time for Persecution Mania. And whereas "Sodomy and Lust" was like the debutante arriving at the ball and throwing her shoes in the face of the vanity parade, this was like having a squadron of dependable, well trained soldiers arrive to gas and grenade everyone else in attendance. The band's gas mask toting gunner mascot had arrived, and their obsession with warfare (only hinted at on prior releases) was in full swing, a motif they'd carry through many albums. The riot patrol that was career prime Sodom was now in session, and living prisoners were unlikely.

Obviously, the centerpiece here is "Nuclear Winter", one of the band's all time classics, which follows a similar course to "Sodomy and Lust" with rip shit, hyper muted guitars and Tom's disgusting, reverberating vocal splatter that placed him in league with the other greats (Schmier, Petrozza, Sabina, Daxx, etc.) Sure, the chorus is predictable, but the riffs that it flows over are like incendiary kisses to the buttocks, and the breakdown was undeniably mosh worthy, despite its lazy gait. "Electrocution" is very similar, aggressive and fast paced with some great vox and an even greater, death metal riffing bridge between the verses. After this, the band include a quality cover of Motörhead's "Iron Fist", which strangely fits into the original content, but also establishes a minor problem I have with Persecution Mania (more on this later).

Speaking of which, the title track represents a slightly more subdued, but still excellent spin on the formula thus far on the disc; "Enchanted Land" might have an offsetting title, but I assure you it's fucking barbaric; and the slow, drudging instrumental "Procession to Golgotha" drifts into another blaze of ballistic frustration, the "Christ Passion", which is merely a variation on "Nuclear Winter" or "Electrocution". "Conjuration" seeks to further the band's punk influence, and it's largely composed of aggressive rock riffing with Lemmy-like bass presence, saved only by Tom's gritty and repulsive vocals. Unfortunately, I don't feel as strongly for "Bombenhagel", which is basically a thrash/punk piece with some bland notation.

would do a lot of this in their career, which is understandable since they obviously have a huge influence through classic dirty rock and punk, but sadly it's just nowhere near as interesting as their more metallic compositions, and this holds true on future full-lengths. The solo is decent, but the guitars are otherwise really dull, and it does put a slight stamp of regret on the album. If you've got one of the CD releases of Persecution Mania, then you're probably also treated to the Expurse of Sodomy EP, with is an excellent value, and the band also include a re-recording of "Outbreak of Evil", which sounds audibly superior to the original, but it's also got that punkish fuel to it. Still, I'd take it any day over "Bombenhagel", which is just the one song I don't like that holds the whole package back.

Regardless, Persecution Mania is the 'best' Sodom full-length album, followed closely by Agent Orange. Some will cite the sloppier, earlier recordings as their favorite, but as charming as they were, they are no replacement for the structure and potential on exhibit here. With this lineup (Angelripper, Blackfire and Witchhunter), the band did a great job of tightening their reins on composition without sacrificing the 'loose ends' of their shoddy, sadistic past. The lyrics are also quite good. It doesn't give me the same missile erection as a Terrible Certainty, Finished With the Dogs, Sentence of Death or The Morning After, but it's quite damn good, and easily belongs among the classics of the 80s in this genre. I've caught hell in the past for holding the band below the others of the 'Big Three' in quality, but that's simply the reality of what I'm hearing. Write it off to the apples and oranges, but what is not in question is that this is sure footed, militaristic, and brutal: an onslaught worth anyone's investment.

Verdict: Win [8.75/10] (epileptic doom of lacerated cannibals)

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