Thursday, November 30, 2023

Sodom - 40 Years at War: The Greatest Hell of Sodom (2022)

The prospect of re-recording albums full of thrash classics is obviously not lost upon the German veterans; Destruction has released a few of their Thrash Anthems comps, Tankard has done one, and even Sodom has issued a full, expanded re-recording of their cult In the Sign of Evil EP, and a handful of other tracks have been revisited on other albums and EPs. 40 Years at War: The Greatest Hell of Sodom is an attempt to throw together 17 tracks which cover much of the band's career into a new whole, and it certainly succeeds at that, in particular the earlier tunes that, while charming, were admittedly (and understandably) somewhat sloppy in execution when the guys were young. 66 minutes of Sodom, who are frankly on a tear with their last handful of new studio outings, honing their weaponry into a production level that can contend with their most recent albums, possibly welcomed by younger fans, and after blazing through this a few times, welcomed by this old fart too.

The track selection here isn't terribly predictable, either, so if you're just expecting the 'greatest hits of Sodom', they have avoided that to just focus on really improving some pieces. No "Nuclear Winter", "Sodomy and Lust", or "The Saw is the Law" here, but a ripping volley of tracks like "After the Deluge", "Electrocution", "Body Parts" and "City of God". Regardless of the material's original era, it has all been smoothed over to sound consistent as a whole, as if 40 Years at War were just another new studio album, and while you can figure out the differences based on the relative technicality or punky feel of the tunes, it still sounds like it all belongs to the same band. Tom's vocals sound flawless, Frank and Yorck have a tone that stays loyal to the later 80s recordings but pumps a little more power, and the drumming is as peppy as it needs to be to encourage all the sore necks. Lead guitars are functional and don't attempt to leap out of the mix too much, and the bass production is also pretty good although it lets those iron-clad rhythm guitar riffs take control.

Although the Thrash Anthems collections were quite solid themselves, Sodom has surpassed them with what must be the best of these re-recording sprees, because I can honestly tell you that in many of the cases here I'd probably prefer listening to these very versions. Not every song is amazing, but the fact they didn't just go with the safer picks raises the value of this in my estimation. Like their peers in Kreator and Destruction, Angelripper and crew show no signs of slowing down, even the older members sound just as strong as they did in their formative 80s years, and 40 Years at War is another worthwhile exhibition of their dedication and power. I also really enjoy the cover art with the band's two iconic mascots going at it with one another, very representative of the recording as a whole, that fusion of old school and later thrash.

Verdict: Win [8.5/10]

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