It seems that Sodom cannot stay away from their fan base for a long time. The band, being in the preparation phase for their next album (due in 2020), offers us another EP, as an appetizer, one year after “Partisan” was released. I assume that you are all aware that these releases occurred in the aftermath of the drastic changes in Sodom’s line-up. In January 2018, Tom parted ways from Bernemman and Maka after many years of collaboration. Shortly after, he announced that Sodom would be, for the first time in history, a four piece band, rejoined by Frank Blackfire, the guitarist of the band’s golden-era. Also, Stefan "Husky" Hüskens (well-known for his work with Asphyx) and Yorck Segatz were hired as the drummer and second guitarist respectively.
Blackfire’s return signaled the emergence of many fans’ hidden desires, regarding an approach to the old school sound of the band (bearing in mind of course, that Persecution Mania” and “Agent Orange” are unreachable peaks). Indeed, last year’s EP revealed Sodom’s tendency to “look back”, but the final result was, in my humble opinion, rather mediocre (it might be good for other bands, but not for Sodom). Given that “Partisan” didn’t fulfill many fans’ expectations, at least at a satisfying extent, the curiosity of whether the new EP would make a leap, was intense.
I am very glad to comment that “Out Of The Frontline Trench” is significantly superior compared to its predecessor. The three new tracks feature the widely known sodomic features that we learnt to adore all these years. Intense, heavy rhythmic parts, this time enriched with Blackfire’s lead solos, splendid work behind the drum kit, devastating bass lines and Tom’s voice, who once more sings in the old school manner, remembering his blackish days, create a crushing, antiwar sound wave that grabs and plunges you in its depth. The production team has made a noteworthy and successful effort to create the sound and feeling of the 80s, thus increasing the overall addiction of the tracks. Indeed, regarding the atmosphere and general essence, the EP brings forth memories of “Persecution Mania” and other legendary albums. However, in terms of composing direction, tempos are not so extremely fast.
Of course, everyone’s attention is drawn on “Genesis 19”, since this track will be included in the forthcoming album. Surely, it is the absolute definition of a killer song, featuring a galloping riffing pattern that raises adrenaline, an appealing and epic refrain that should be heard at concerts, thunderous drum hits where necessary and a calmer part with a sick melody that reminds me discreetly of Asphyx’s slow songs. If “Genesis 19” is a representative sample of the new album, I cannot wait to hear the rest.
The next two tracks are included in the EP only. “Down On Your Knees” offers typical sodomic riffing and several tempo changes, while “Out Of The Frontline Trench” is more dynamic and straightforward, competing directly with “Genesis 19” regarding the informal title of the “hit” of the EP. Addictive rhythmic patterns, riffs that emerge from black metal fields and Tom’s vocals, having a tone of malevolence at times, are combined to form something gloomy, decayed and hardly to be missed.
Besides these three new songs, the EP features a re-recorded version of the hyper-classic “Agent Orange” with the current line-up, probably for marketing reasons, since the homonymous influential album celebrates its 30th anniversary. I cannot spot any major differences between the two versions; hence, attention is drawn on Husky’s work on drums, whose performance proves that he is a worthy substitute of Witchhunter.
Finally, a live version of “Bombenhagel”, recorded at Schalke’s Veltins Arena, Gelsenkirchen, in June 2018, is a glimpse of the band performing on stage.
According to Steamhammer’s press release, “Out Of The Frontline Trench” forges an arch between Sodom’s past, present and future. Regarding the present, the new line-up offers great doses of energy and pure Teutonic thrash in the traditional, old-fashioned way, succeeding in raising our expectations for the upcoming album. They do not engage in something different, or innovative; they do not care, and we do not care either. What we want is their decency. Sodom are good at being decent.