Sodom, an eminent German thrash metal ensemble hailing from Gelsenkirchen, was established in 1981. Allegedly christened after the Venom song ‘One Thousand Days in Sodom,’ the band was the brainchild of Tom Angelripper, who sought an escape from the coal mines of his hometown. The initial line-up of Sodom comprised Tom Angelripper, Bloody Monster, Arius “Blasphemer,” and Aggressor.
The inception of Sodom can be traced back to the embryonic stages characterized by a fusion of speed metal and hardcore punk, a style that was later termed black metal. Drawing inspiration from bands such as Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Motörhead, Venom, Kiss, Tank, Accept, Raven, Rainbow, AC/DC, and UFO, the group continued as a three-piece in the Motörhead-fashion and released two demos, ‘Witching Metal’ and ‘Victims of Death,’ which led to a record deal with Steamhammer Records.
‘Obsessed by Cruelty’ is the debut full-length studio album and the second release by the band, unveiled in 1986. The album is unique in that two distinct versions exist, the European and the American, due to the record company’s dissatisfaction with the initial result. This led the band to record the album twice, each version released by different record companies, Steamhammer Records in Germany and Metal Blade Records in the United States of America.
The first version of the album was recorded in Berlin and was released on vinyl by Metal Blade Records in the United States in 1986. The second version, recorded in Nuremberg, was released by Steamhammer Records in their home country of Germany in the same year. According to Tom Angelripper, the second recording is “completely different” and features a bonus track named ‘After the Deluge.’
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In 1988, ‘Obsessed by Cruelty’ was re-released together with ‘In the Sign of Evil,’ featuring the first recorded version. The album was also re-released as a picture vinyl in 2005 by Vinyl Maniacs.
The album had a profound influence on the then-developing black metal genre. Mayhem founder and guitarist Euronymous described the early Sodom and Destruction releases as underrated “masterpieces of black stinking metal.” He also named his record label, Deathlike Silence Productions, after the album’s second track. This album, with its raw and aggressive sound, combined with dark lyrical themes, played a significant role in the development of the extreme metal subgenre, establishing Sodom’s reputation in the metal community.
Frank “Blackfire” Gosdzik stepped in to fill the guitar vacancy left by Wulf. Frank persuaded Tom that thrash metal was evolving beyond the horror, occult, and satanic themes of bands like Venom to encompass political, societal, and war themes. Tom, already intrigued by various wars yet remained a peacenik, found new inspiration that culminated in Frank’s second full-length debut with the band, ‘Persecution Mania.’ The innovative lyrical approach and enhanced musicianship on the part of Frank brought the band significant acclaim, as well as a gas-masked mascot Knarrenheinz, who debuted on ‘Persecution Mania’s cover.
They subsequently toured Europe with Whiplash, Destruction, and Coroner, and embarked on their only North American tour to date. The resulting album, ‘Agent Orange’ (1989), sold 100,000 copies in Germany alone. It was this album that made Sodom famous, giving them worldwide critical acclaim, and secured their place alongside Kreator and Destruction as one of the great Teutonic thrash metal bands. To this date, ‘Agent Orange’ has sold more than any other German thrash metal album in the world. In support of the album, Sodom went on tour with a then-relatively unknown Sepultura.
Problems were brewing inside of the band, however. Tom and Chris descended further into alcoholism. Furthermore, Frank had grown tired of composing music that his bandmates would often perform poorly live. Mille Petrozza offered Frank a position with his band Kreator, after they lost their second guitarist, and Frank accepted. Angelripper went out looking for a replacement and found Michael Hoffmann, formerly of German thrashers Assassin.
With a new line-up, the album ‘Better off Dead’ was released in 1990, and another grueling tour in Europe followed, playing with bands like Acid Drinkers, Destruction, Accu§er, Running Wild, Coroner, Tankard, and Atrocity. During the South American tour, Hoffmann decided to stay in Brazil and was therefore forced to quit. Andy Brings replaced him, and a new album was recorded, ‘Tapping the Vein’ (1992), with more of a death metal sound. This proved to be the last album with the drummer Witchhunter: He was kicked out of the band, and Atomic Steif formerly of both Holy Moses and Living Death became his replacement behind the drum kit.
On September 15th, 1991, Sodom played in Sofia, Bulgaria. The show was notable for the band because the audience of fifteen thousand people was one of the largest they had ever had as a headliner. It was notable for the audience because it was the first show of a Western metal band in Bulgaria after the fall of communism (the only remotely similar event being a performance of the hard rock band Uriah Heep in 1987).
This period also marked the beginning of less international visibility for the band as thrash lost its commercial viability for the remainder of the 1990s due to grunge and alternative rock. Angelripper also started a solo career doing metal impressions of drinking songs, German Schlagers, and even Christmas-type carols. A live album was recorded of the tour in support of the resulting album called ‘Marooned – Live.’
‘Masquerade in Blood,’ saw the death metal influences return, as well as some groove metal elements kicking in, but still was pretty much in the same vein as their previous studio effort. It was released in 1995. Again another guitarist had to be found. The new choice, Strahli, did not stay very long with the band. He was arrested and imprisoned on drug-related matters, and the band had since lost contact with him, until January 2011, when they learned he had died in Düsseldorf. Atomic Steif also left and again Angelripper needed to search for new members. These were found: a guitarist in Bernemann and a drummer in Bobby Schottkowski. This line-up stabilized the band significantly and lasted until December 2010, when Schottkowski left.
The album ‘Til Death Do Us Unite’ featured a provocative album cover, depicting a woman’s pregnant belly and a man’s beer gut pressing in a human skull together. This album marked the beginning of Sodom’s return to thrash but was still more along the lines of a thrash-crossover sound and had much in common with bands like Suicidal Tendencies. It also spawned the song for which Sodom would make their most famous music video, the highly-controversial song ‘Fuck the Police.’ After this album, Sodom returned to the studio and released ‘Code Red’ in 1999 which marked a full return to the Teutonic thrash metal sound of the 1980s, and it was met with praise from fans and press alike. A limited edition featured a bonus CD containing a tribute to Sodom album, ‘Homage to the Gods.’
Entering the new millennium, Sodom continued to evolve, experimenting with different musical elements while maintaining their thrash metal roots. Albums like ‘M-16’ and ‘Sodom’ showcased a more mature and polished sound, without losing the raw energy that defined their earlier works.
With 2001 came the release of ‘M-16,’ a concept album about the movie Apocalypse Now, which took its title from the famed M16 assault rifle. In 2003, a double live album was recorded in Bangkok, Thailand, titled ‘One Night in Bangkok.’ A new album simply titled ‘Sodom’ was released in 2006, in the same vein as ‘M-16.’ The title was chosen – as Angelripper explained it “because every band needs a self-titled album,” and the band had never released one. The album was delayed however, because the DVD ‘Lords of Depravity’ took more time to compose than initially thought.
In 2007, Tom was asked by the record label Steamhammer Records for any tracks to be released on the ‘In the Sign of Evil’ EP. Tom believed there were, and the label floated the idea to Tom to get ex-members Chris Witchhunter and Grave Violator (real name: Franz Josef “Peppi” Dominik) to re-record the EP with the bonus tracks. The result became ‘The Final Sign of Evil.’ Chris “Witchhunter” Dudek died on September 7th, 2008 from liver failure after a long battle with illness, and two years later, in 2009, Sodom returned to the United Kingdom to play their first show in 20 years at Bloodstock Open Air.
‘In War and Pieces,’ Sodom’s thirteenth studio album, was released in Europe on November 22nd, 2010, and released in North America on January 11th, 2011. On November 30th, 2010, it was announced that Bobby Schottkowski would be leaving the band, due to “personal and private problems” between Tom Angelripper and Schottkowski. On December 8th, 2010, Markus “Makka” Freiwald was announced to be Sodom’s new drummer.
In late January 2012, Sodom began writing their fourteenth studio album, which they planned to record in May 2012 for a late summer release. On December 17th, 2012, the band announced the album would be released on April 29th, 2013. The album is titled ‘Epitome of Torture’ and features thirteen tracks. The album was released in Germany on April 26th, and in the United States on May 7th.
In November 2014, Sodom released the EP ‘Sacred Warpath’ as a preview of their fifteenth studio album. The EP contains one original studio track, and live versions of three previously released songs, and two years later, on June 9th, 2016, Sodom announced their fifteenth studio album ‘Decision Day’ on their Facebook page. It was released on August 26th of that year.
Sodom released the compilation album, ‘Demonized,’ on September 1st, 2017. Available only on cassette and 12” vinyl, it features the band’s first two demo recordings, ‘Witching Metal’ from 1982 and ‘Victims of Death’ from 1984. Shortly after the release of ‘Decision Day,’ Angelripper stated that Sodom had “some ideas for [their] next album which [they] want to bring out in 2018.”
On December 3rd, 2017, Sodom announced a reunion with three of their former guitarists Josef “Grave Violator” Dominic (who performed on ‘In the Sign of Evil’), Frank “Blackfire” Gosdzik (‘Persecution Mania’ and ‘Agent Orange’), and Andy Brings (‘Tapping the Vein’ and ‘Get What You Deserve’) during their 35th-anniversary show on December 26th in Bochum, Germany. This marked the first time since Dominic, Gosdzik, and Brings left the band in 1985, 1989, and 1995, respectively, that either guitarist had performed live with Sodom. They performed three songs separate from one another’s appearances from the respective albums they appeared on.
On January 5th, 2018, Angelripper announced his partings from Bernemann and Makka “to pave the way for new challenges.” He then said that he would introduce the new members on April 7th at the 2018 edition of the Full Metal Mountain festival, and that they would work on a new album together. Bernemann and Makka later said that they were fired from the band via WhatsApp without Angelripper listening to the new material they were working on for the band’s next album. On January 22nd, 2018, Angelripper announced that he had expanded the band’s line-up as a four-piece. He was rejoined by guitarist Frank “Blackfire” Gosdzik and added Stefan “Husky” Hüskens and Yorck Segatz as the band’s new drummer and second guitarist respectively.
On February 26th, 2018, Sodom canceled their appearance at the Full Metal Mountain festival “due to the short-term change of line-up and the restructuring of my band Sodom,” as explained by Angelripper. The new line-up of the band made their live debut on May 18th at the 2018 edition of the Rock Hard Festival. Sodom also participated in the 2018 installment of the MTV Headbangers Ball European Tour with Death Angel, Suicidal Angels, and Exodus from late November to mid-December. This new lineup recorded the EPs ‘Partisan’ (2018) and ‘Out of the Frontline Trench’ (2019).
On January 13th, 2020, drummer Stefan “Husky” Hüskens departed the band due to “some changes at [his] full-time job, as well as a few other matters,” and would not return in the future. He was replaced by Toni Merkel, and on June 12th, 2020, Sodom announced that they had begun recording their sixteenth studio album, entitled ‘Genesis XIX,’ at Woodhouse Studio in Hagen, Germany with producer Siggi Bemm. Mixing of the album was completed in August 2020, and it was released on November 27th.
On May 11th, 2021, Sodom announced an upcoming EP titled ‘Bombenhagel,’ containing a re-recorded version of the song ‘Bombenhagel’ from their 1987 studio album ‘Persecution Mania’ as well as two new tracks, set to be released on August 20th.
In a December 2021 interview with Rockman, Tom Angelripper revealed that Sodom has begun writing new material for their next album. A month later, Sodom was announced as one of the bands to have its contract with SPV/Steamhammer Records renewed. In May 2022, Angelripper said that the band’s new album would be released in 2023; he later declared that it would not be released until 2024.
To coincide with its 40th anniversary, Sodom released the compilation album ‘40 Years at War – The Greatest Hell of Sodom’ on October 28th, 2022. The set includes one song from each of the band’s studio albums between ‘Obsessed by Cruelty’ and ‘Genesis XIX,’ in addition to ‘Sepulchral Voice’ from the ‘In the Sign of Evil’ EP.
On July 31st, 2023, it was announced that Sodom (along with Kreator, Destruction, and Tankard) were on the bill for the Klash of the Ruhrpott festival, which is scheduled to take place at Amphitheater Gelsenkirchen in Gelsenkirchen, Germany on July 20th, 2024. This show will mark the first time that all of the Big Teutonic Four bands have performed together.
The recent announcement of the iconic German thrash metal band Sodom’s return to South America marks a momentous occasion for enthusiasts of the genre. The prolonged anticipation has culminated in an exhilarating revelation for thrash metal aficionados in South America, as Sodom announces their much-awaited comeback after a hiatus of four years. The legendary ensemble will embark on a global tour, dubbed 40 Years At War – The Greatest Hell Of Sodom, commemorating their 40th anniversary.
This tour not only celebrates a milestone in the band’s history but also offers a unique opportunity for genre lovers in South America to experience an unforgettable night of prodigious music and unbridled energy. This echoes the sentiment that has been building within the thrash metal community, who view Sodom’s return as a symbolic resurgence of the genre itself.
The triumphant return of Sodom to Colombia will be manifested on November 6th, 2023, at the Auditorio CUN. It promises to be an extraordinary night filled with the powerful riffs and intense lyrics that have characterized the band throughout its illustrious trajectory in the thrash metal scene.
This performance is poised to be a historic event, reflecting the band’s quintessential style, which has continually resonated with fans. The forthcoming concert is more than just a musical event; it is a tribute to the connection between the band and its loyal fan base in South America, and with this said, Bogotá is set to become the epicenter of thrash metal, thanks to Sodom’s triumphant return and their tour 40 Years At War – The Greatest Hell Of Sodom. This tour symbolizes not only a landmark in the band’s history but also epitomizes the vitality and resilience of thrash metal as a genre.
The band’s influence on the metal scene cannot be overstated. They have released seventeen studio albums, three live albums, two compilation albums, and seven EPs. Their most recent studio album, ‘Genesis XIX,’ was released on November 27th, 2020. Sodom is one of the best-selling thrash metal acts of all time, having sold over two million records.