The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world
Tom Angelripper Sodom - Interview
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Along with Kreator, Destruction and Tankard, Sodom is considered one of the "big 4" of Teutonic thrash metal and that's all you really need to know when considering the legacy of the band. Over 35 years in and they are still pulling all the punches, their latest effort "Decision Day" does not sound like a band on the brink of retirement at all. We recently had a few words with original founding member Tom Angelripper about the new songs and the role that Sodom has had in the world of extreme metal over the years.



Upon hearing the new album "Decision Day", it was clear that there was still plenty left in the Sodom gas tank as this album is definitely one of the better efforts over the years. Continuing the thrash metal assault that they are known for, it also has a hell of a lot of groove and just hints of their original black metal origins thrown in for good measure. A congratulations was in order of course to the original veteran member Tom Angelripper as he responded afterwards on how the album came together.

"We had a lot of time to write the songs after 'Epitome Of Torture'. For the new one, we had no release date agreed with the label, so we were able to record the songs in a time period of six month. That was relaxed to work without deadline pressure. So we had time to do a pre-production and change parts we were not satisfied with."

One thing that stood out on the songs which seemed to have been paid some attention to was the production side of things. Sonically it's one of the best sounding albums to date by the German thrashers and one of the things that pushes the songs to that extra level. "Our producer Corny did a great job", Tom states. "We recorded the drums and instruments with microphones, without any trigger signal or midi files. That keeps our typical Sodom sound so organic and straight to the ears. But yes, we recorded digitally, which is usual and payable in these times. I like old productions with "bigger" drumkits like old Venom, Kiss and Motley Crue etc."

Sodom have never been shy from writing about political topics, their anti-war stance which was originally mistaken for a pro-military stance in the beginning of their career is something that remains constant to this day. With the state of the world as it is now and the access of the internet at the fingertips, one could say it was a fairly easy topic to tackle. "The main topic describes the current state of our world", explains the frontman. "Bad news every day. Especially when you consider how much the world has changed since the last album. Sectarian killing, cold war, nuclear armament, abolition of democracy in many countries, starvation and all the destructive...that inspired my lyrical mindset and fits so perfect to our music. That is sad but true. I am not politically active, but this music gives me the chance to enter the stage and scream it out. That is like a therapy for me. But other songs like 'Caligula' or 'Decision Day' reflects my interest in historical events. But the war is still around us and will always be the main part of my lyrics."


The band add some diversity in some of the songs like in "Rolling Thunder" and "Sacred Warpath" which they have played around with on past releases but at this point in their career, was there anything else they wanted to try that they had not done before? "Oh yes, there a couple of songs I sang in one take", Tom responds. "That was something I never tried before, but this reflects some live feeling into the studio production".
It's that willingness to try different things every once in a while in order to stand out from the pack that seems to be the key element in Sodom, as well as originality which the singer also points out. "We always tried to create something new...from the beginning. We never look back, or left and right. There is no inspiration in the song writing process. We just do the music we like to listen to, without influence from outside and NO dictation from labels, publishers or musical agencies. Do what you want and what you believe in, that is the secret behind success."

That way of thinking has led to the success of Sodom and in return have influenced a lot of metal bands that have come in the wake of that success. They have been around long enough to help shape and pioneer extreme metal which must be a very gratifying feeling to have. "That makes me proud", says Tom. "But believe me, it is the result of hard working men. It's not easy to survive the business in these hard times. But Sodom has a cult status meanwhile. I realize that we inspired so many bands and Sodom still has a big influence to the scene."
Trends have come and gone through all these years and even thrash metal itself which mostly disappeared back into the underground in the 1990's, seems to have had a resurgence in the last 10 years but as Tom points out, it's not the same as the originators who started it but he does notice it. "Yes, but you cannot repeat the history. There are so many bands who call themselves thrash metal [but] that is impossible. The spirit is gone. This music is just a product of the gloryful 80's.

What about extreme metal in general? It's a conversation that has started to pop up in recent years where the question posed is whether metal can ever get any more extreme or heavier than it currently has reached at. I ask myself this question all the time and discuss it with many other metal fans as well as the bands themselves involved in the scene. I throw the question to Tom but he gives a definite no. "You can turn down your guitar tuning or putting more BPM on your drumming but you can't get heavier in that way." He goes on with an example, "Listen to Venom's 'Welcome To Hell' and you will realize what heaviness means. This record is unbeatable and still the heaviest album in the world."

So what keeps Sodom alive? In the early days of thrash metal, there was a fair bit of friendly competition to try and outdo each other. You know, who could be the fastest, the heaviest, the most aggressive or simply the scariest! Venom ticks a lot of those boxes for sure but the American bands like Metallica and Slayer were certainly pushing the envelope even more on certain elements in their own way, both Venom and Slayer by the way are credited by Tom as being his biggest musical influences when asked. But in Germany the big 4 of Teutonic thrash metal with Kreator, Destruction and Tankard as well as Sodom created their own legacy and spawned a whole other take on extreme metal so over 35 years later, what keeps Sodom going and being on the road? "As long as I stay healthy and creative I will keep on doing this". Tom continues, "And we get so much support and affection from the fans. That even helps to survive. We never describe ourselves as rockstars, we are just metal fans doing music and enter a stage for a while."

It's that close connection and appreciation for their fanbase that has kept Sodom close to the heart of many true metal fans who listen to Sodom's music. Their live show is where it's at and is usually the case for any decent band, I did have to ask whether there will be plans to return to Australia in the near future and while nothing is in the works by the looks of it as of now, they are definitely keen to come back. "Hope we will get the chance to [come] back one day. We had a good time over there and we enjoyed every minute. That was really an awesome trip."

I think it's safe to say that the Aussie metal fans, thrash fans in particular would love to see the German thrashers head back down under for another tour. But as anyone in this business knows, it can only happen if the demand is there. As our interview comes to it's end, there was really only one question left to ask which Tom answered in a rather fitting way when the philosophical idea of the meaning of life was put to the test. "Leave something remarkable behind when you go...good records, children, love."

Interview by Andrew "Schizodeluxe" Massie on August 2nd 2016