By Kelley Simms
Like the US’ Big Four of thrash metal, Germany has its own Teutonic Four consisting of DESTRUCTION, KREATOR, TANKARD and SODOM. Forming in 1981 in Gelsenkirchen, Sodom, has marched its war machine toward the frontline of the thrash trenches for over 30 years.
A new Sodom release is always a welcomed one, and with Epitome Of Torture, the band’s 14th release overall, there’s a renewed vigor within the band - most likely due to new drummer, Markus “Makka” Freiwald (Kreator, DESPAIR, VOODOOCULT, ROTTING CHRIST).
Calling from his home in Gelsenkirchen, original member, leader and gravely-pit throatman/bassist Tom Angelripper expressed how happy he is about the new album and its new drummer.
“I’m very satisfied with the results,” Tom said. “I think it’s a good album, but to me, it’s important what the fans say after the release. When Bobby (Schottkowski) left the band before we started the In War and Pieces tour, we were looking for a new drummer and Makka was one of the drummers we knew who was living in our hometown. That’s a big difference between our new album and In War And Pieces, it’s better drumming. Now we are able to do heavier and faster songs. Bobby is more of a rock drummer. Makka pushed the band. He’s a little bit younger than me and Bernemann and it’s like fresh blood to the band.”
The ten tracks on Epitome Of Torture follow the trademark Sodom formula, but there are some more melodic elements on display.
“We are blinded to the scene when we start writing. We never look at what other bands do, or there is no dictation from outside from the record company or whoever. We just do the music we want. That’s something that never changes. Bernemann is a very melodic guitarist, his combination between very hard riffs and very strong, powerful songs with melodic elements which I like so much. On Epitome of Torture, it sounds a little bit like Agent Orange, with a little bit of dirt on it. We tried to keep the spirit.”
Epitome of Torture was produced by once again by Waldemar Sorychta, who Tom says has become like the fourth Sodom member. Another strong point to the album is Tom’s vocals. They are more spot-on and his pronunciation and delivery seems more in command. He’s really in the zone.
“Waldemar helped me a lot with the vocals. It was really hard to work on because like on In War and Pieces, I had the same ritual. I had to sing every line in different ways. For example, on ‘Stigmatized,’ I sing like a death metal singer. Somebody asked me last week who the guest vocalist was on that song. With my English, when I talk, it’s stupid English, but when I write it down or when I sing, you’ll realize that I’m German, you know? And that’s what American people like, this German sound.”
Switching the subject to the Teutonic Four, it’s a term that Tom is not really that fond of but he realizes the specialness of all of the bands as a collective. His dream is to do a Tuetonic Four touring package in the near future.
“We have a festival next month called Beastival, which we all play together with the Teutonic Four (on the same bill). I hate the phrase Teutonic Four. But it would be really something special and I talk about it everyday. It’s my dream. I talked to Schmier a couple of weeks ago. I talked to Gerre from Tankard. I also tried to get in contact with Mille, but he is still touring. I want to do it and I think for Sodom and thrash fans, it’s a very good idea ... doing a show with a one-price ticket and all four bands on one stage. But the problem is, there’s different companies, different booking agents with all their own interests. The next step will be to talk to Mille.”
Sodom has been churning out war-themed anthems its whole career, and on songs ‘Katjuscha,’ about the Russian rocket launcher, and ‘Waterboarding’, which deals with torture methods, Tom still has plenty of ammunition to write about with the state of the world is in these days.
“You look at the TV and newspapers and that is the biggest inspiration. I think the war theme is always growing. I want to live in a peaceful world, but it never changes. When I look at what’s happening with North Korea these days and the nuclear threat to the US, that’s something I want to write down. I hate it. I’m afraid of it because this could be the next WWIII. The songs ‘Cannibal’ and ‘Waterboarding’ is material and a theme that is very bad, but for me, it’s a big inspiration. I want to stop writing these kinds of lyrics but I can’t. There’s so many things of bad situations that happen around the world and this is what I have to write about. War is always a theme and I think for the next albums we’re still going to write about.”
Following every new Sodom release, the band gears up for some heavy touring.
“We’re going to do a South American tour, then a festival in Mexico,” Tom concludes. “We have a lot of festivals around Germany. We’re booked every weekend. My dream is what I spoke of before, a Big Four tour. We need a new promoter to bring us to America. We want to start writing songs for a new album. We don’t want to keep our fans waiting too long.”