To many heavy metal fans, Sodom have always formed part of the ‘Teutonic Big 4’ and during the mid-to-late 80’s, the German thrashers had built up a strong following on the back of ‘Persecution Mania’, an album which would see the band move away from their black metal Venom style roots, into the more en vogue thrash metal sound more synonymous with Sodom and it was their third album ‘Agent Orange’ which became the bands breakthrough album.
‘Agent Orange’ continued to build on the path laid down on ‘Persecution Mania’ and with it, the German thrashers created a beast. Gone were the second-rate Venom worshippers that had started their journey and the arrival of Frank Blackfire during ‘Persecution Mania’ ignited a fire within the Sodom camp. Instead of almost mindlessly thrashing away, Sodom now had a guitarist capable of writing intricate, technical passages seen especially during the breakdown of ‘Tired and Red’, when this is combined with the new lyrical themes of war and the socio-political landscape from Tom Angelripper, it gives the album a modern relevance, not just in Germany at the time, but is just as relevant now 29 years on. Furthermore, Angelripper uses his obsession with the Vietnam War to provide an album which runs almost like a greatest hits of Sodom with tracks like ‘Remember the Fallen’, ‘Baptism of Fire’, ‘Ausgebombt’ and the title track. However, the success of ‘Agent Orange’ cannot be held down the musicians alone and once more, Sodom have turned to Harris Johns, famous for his work with fellow big German names such as Helloween, Grave Digger and Kreator, to produce ‘Agent Orange’. This production is second to none with the tight melodies of Blackfire being clearly heard, alongside each syllable pronounced by Angelripper.
Although, Angelripper’s vocals and bass have been the mainstay of Sodom’s sound throughout their career, it is the guitar, craftsmanship and melodies of Blackfire which make ‘Agent Orange’ so good. For anyone looking to explore Sodom, then look no further than this album, it is the pinnacle of the band career and is able to provide something for both new and old fans of the band.