The past four years have been a challenge for both Sodom and their fans. After the excellent Decision Day (2016), guitarist Bernemann, who has been in the band for 22 years (!), was surprisingly replaced by not one, but, for the first time in band history – two guitar players – the legendary Frank Blackfire (who played in the thrash classics Persecution Mania and Agent Orange) and Yorck Segatz. The drummer’s seat was taken by Stefan Hüskens (a.k.a Husky, also in Asphyx) and this line-up released three EPs: Partisan, Chosen By The Grace Of God and Out Of The Frontline Trench. All of them were clearly a test for the completely renewed line-up and a warm-up for the long-awaited new full length with Frank Blackfire onboard. A final line-up change was made in the beginning of the new album recordings, with Toni Merkel joining on drums, and finally, on November 27th, Steamhammer will release Genesis XIX.
The Petagno cover artwork is really something to behold – a fantastic work, and is the first detail to draw the listener’s attention to something special. After an ominous intro, the true opener Sodom & Gomorrah is exactly what we have all been expecting: the right dose of old school thrash, with an unmistakable guitar tone reminiscent of 1988 and a sense of a band reinvigorated and inspired. Euthanasia (a great solo!), Glock ‘n’ Roll and Occult Perpetrator follow in the same fashion, displaying what we love Sodom for in the first place. The fantastic performance by Tom Angelripper should be stressed on – these are some of the best vocals of his career. Waldo & Pigpen is the best thrasher in the album – a display of class with a ruthless tempo and catchy riffs. Where this album shines most however, are the tracks which incorporate some new elements in the band’s sound, like, for example, the blastbeats in Nicht Mehr Mein Land, Dehumanized and Friendly Fire. They suit the songs perfectly and perhaps point towards a future development in Sodom’s sonic template. These three tracks are maybe the answer to all wondering why Tony Merkel, was drawn into the line-up.
The two longest songs, which are the title track and The Harpooneer, also play with some doom riff-transitions to create an evil and oppressive atmosphere and further enrich the overall impression from the new album. The obligatory punk hammer is also present in Indoctrination.
OK, Sodom has never been a band to venture blindly into experimentation and the first album with two guitar players is not a departure from the band’s well-known aggressive thrash style. However, the presence of Frank Blackfire is evident and some of the riffs Yorck Segatz contributed with, are pure gold. Genesis XIX is just the first step in displaying the full potential of this line-up and I am absolutely sure the best is yet to come. With that said, this is easily among the best thrash albums of 2020.