Germany’s Sodom have forged their own path in the modern metal world, not only in the style and content of their thrash, which often includes historical and biblical references, but in their duration. Formed in 1981 in Gelsenkirchen, the band has kept the music playing despite line-up changes and the evolving state of music.
This year marks the release of Decision Day, the band’s fifteenth album, and one that continues the themes that have flowed through their discography. The title references D-Day when, in June 1944, the Allied Forces landed in Normandy to liberate mainland Europe from Nazi Germany. Frontman Tom Angelripper and his Sodom bandmates, including guitarist Bernemann and drummer Markus “Makka” Freiwald, not only dig their hooks into this chaotic point in history, but they do so with a vengeance that is remarkable, given the many years these veterans have been at it.
Contributor Jason Zins hooked up with vocalist/bassist (and only constant member) Angelripper via the World Wide Web recently for an email interview corresponding with the release of Sodom’s fifteenth album, Decision Day, which hit the street in late August on Steamhammer/SPV Records.
In my recent review for Decision Day, I said that it was one of your best albums dating back to the beginning. Thoughts? Personal favorite song?
I love this album too, but for me it is just a new one. Never compare it to older releases, but the whole bunch is very satisfied with the result. We also got some fantastic reviews from all the fanzines and they love it. First fan reactions were awesome. I think the big difference is the way we produced it. We recorded the songs in six months, without any release date confirmed with the label. That gave us the opportunity to do a pre-production and to change things we were not satisfied with.
I noticed you get a lot of inspiration from current events, like Blood Lions. What else inspires you?
The state of our world. 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 frenzy … that inspired my lyrical mindset and fits so perfect to our music. This is sad but true. I am not politically active, but this music gives me the chance to enter the stage and to scream it out. That is like a therapy for me.
What songs do you think will be played live?
It will be a hard decision to write a setlist with all the new songs. We have so many all-time classics to play. But I think “Caligula,” “Vaginal Born Evil,” “Belligerence” and “Strange Lost World” will make it.
Sodom is a pillar in thrash metal history after all these years. What keeps you guys motivated to write and tour?
I just love what I do. That’s motivation enough. As long as I stay healthy and creative, I will do it. When we had started the band we had no idea that we would be still alive after 35 years. In the beginning, our musical attitudes were just for fun. But we got our first deal already in ‘84. That was amazing … recording in a professional studio for the first time. We were so lucky, that Steamhammer believed in us. But being alive after so many years is a result of hardworking men and the loyal support of our fans.
What do the guys in Sodom listen to?
I listen to ‘80s metal, like Venom, Slayer, Tank, Motörhead … but also love old school punk bands. Of course, the other guys are metal fans as well.
What do you think has been the biggest change from the ‘80s to today in the metal scene?
The music scene is getting more obscure and complicated. I lost the oversight about the new releases. Hundreds of bands urging into the scene every month but just a couple of them will get the chance for a deal. Too many record labels, publishers, merch companies and booking agencies skim the market to sign the bigger bands. Smaller underground bands stay on the track and get no chance. It is so important not to get monopolized by them. In ’82 there were just a handful of bands who did metal, so that was easy to find a label.
Do you think the current scene is healthy and thriving? Favorite newer bands?
Yes, (I) think so. Metal is very popular at the time. So many big festivals everywhere, and they are still successful. Some of them, like Wacken, are sold out just before any bands are confirmed.
What are your tour plans looking like for the new album?
No tour plans yet. We play a lot of festivals and weekend shows all over the planet. At the time we want to wait a little bit after the release of the new album, but we are always waiting for offers by any serious promoters.
Do you guys do things different on tour now than you did 20-plus years ago?
We drink less alcohol. That was completely different in the beginning of our tour activities. We have been drunken all time and never realized that the fans paid the price to see a band in a good condition … hahahaha. But this has changed. We got more serious and controllable
What’s your favorite weird tour story?
Please take your time and look Sodom DVD Lords of Depravity Part One. There is the biggest story ever documented. That happened when we travel to a show confirmed in Hungary, Budapest. You will not believe it.
We look forward to seeing you guys on the road soon, and thanks again for taking time to answer my questions Tom!
Yes, hope so too. Thanks for supporting us so loyal all over the decades.
Decision Day is out now on Steamhammer/SPV Records. Buy it now!
Decision Day Sodom SPV Steamhammer Tom Angelripper