MetalBite Review by Chris Pratl on 7/17/2018 7:16:01 PM
Being a part of the 'German Axis' aside heavyweights as Destruction and Kreator, Sodom has been pushing itself into the hair-trigger recesses of my stomach lining for as long as I can remember, and they've rarely let me down. With Epitome of Torture I was ready for much of the same Sodom, which isn't necessarily a slight as much as a complementary ease with a very familiar sound.
“My Final Bullet” isn't quite what I expected here, to be honest. This almost grooving Sodom takes some serious notation with its signature sound and implements a very different feel to the music. As much as I was ready for the old blanket of that Sodom tone, I was taken aback for a minute until the groove really grew on me. There is nothing here that really screams sell out or a drastic switch in direction; it's merely a sound that Sodom rarely utilizes, and honestly I'm left wishing for some of the old magic to magically reappear. After settling in with that track, I hesitated a bit when “S.O.D.O.M.” began simply due to the title; could it be an all-too easy chant track to call the lulled masses to arms in bedrooms across the planet? Nope, the familiar Expurse of Sodomy sound is all over this, albeit with much cleaner production. Tom Angelripper's scratchy vocals are, as always, the mainstay of the band's sound and he hasn't lost a step. The throaty yells are everywhere they need to be. I was assuaged, however momentarily.
As the album moves along to the title track, I find it to be the beginning of a succession of weaker songs making up the fold; the namesake just didn't have a punch or strong feel to it, right down to the thin chorus. I guess every album manages to regurgitate one here and there, and the masters of the genre are no exception, but there was just too many musical lulls to come. The 'typically thrash' elements of Sodom's repertoire are, to many, basic and somewhat stagnating, and I can understand that to a degree. That said, I wasn't happy with the competing vocal tones in “Stigmatized” as it seems to start venturing into transparent territory not needed for the band's continued relevance. Other than that, the song was pretty good. “Cannibal” proves to me halfway in that Sodom's all-out thrashing ferocity of yesterday is a bit tamer today, which can be good or bad dependent upon your affinity for classic bands updating a sound, however slightly. Mind you, the band is still as potent and heavy as ever, but something is just missing. Quite possibly Epitome of Torture suffers from 30-plus-years of much of the same conscious design at the same drawing board. Dare I even say the new Sodom is boring?
Sodom still manages to make systematic killing and torture sound ever appealing to those of us bitter and angry at the stupidity of the world at large, but the once-proud anger and violent rage seems somewhat subdued on the latest release. This is still leaps and bounds over 50% of the thrash metal invading small spaces in the modern day, but, historical considerations aside, Epitome of Torture consists largely of moments, mere sequences really, of inspired brilliance, yet there's always a looming element of restraint herein. “Katjuscha” briefly gets the blood rushing, as does “Into the Skies of War,” but these are sandwiched between otherwise blasé offerings that will keep this one a space-occupier for me this time around. If it's on in a setting where I can't switch to something else, I can deal with it fine, but given the choice I'd go with something else because this one just missed too many marks for this old fan.
Rating: 5 out of 10
(Originally written for www.metalpsalter.com)