Sodom's Bombenhagel EP embodies its name, which roughly translates to "bomb hail" in German. It strikes like a wrathful storm from above with the deadly precision. And then it's over. This three-song blitz pays homage to their thrash metal heritage with a rerecording of an old classic, and also unleashes two new ferocious songs. Bombenhagel might not offer anything drastically different. However, it remains another potent pummeling from one of the most consistent titans of Teutonic thrash metal, now in their fourth decade of battle.
The opening shots of the song "Bombenhagel" ring out with band leader and vocalist Tom Angelripper's distorted bass, a punchy volley of low end, which is met by his deliciously gravely growl. "Bombenhagel" blasts the listener with grindcore speeds for its verse and chorus, then bursts into party mode with a breakdown. This number generously employs a steady mosh section for the guitars to shred over, a bit reminiscent to Motörhead's groovier passages, and culminates in a bizarre medley of national anthems that spans the superpowers of World War 2.
A further bit of background for heavy metal history: "Bombenhagel" was originally the closing track of their 1987 album Persecution Mania, and has been a concert staple for Sodom ever since. Persecution Mania was the first Sodom record to feature guitarist Frank Blackfire, who Angelripper credits for much of Sodom's evolution into a tighter, sharper brand of bombastic thrash metal. Blackfire left Sodom in the early nineties, but his contributions remain a cornerstone in the band's classic catalog. He also rejoined the band a few years ago, and played guitar on Sodom's Genesis XIX full length in 2020, in addition to this new EP.
Context aside, "Bombenhagel" sounds like a rambunctious success in its 2021 rendition. The new version of "Bombenhagel" again features a guest guitar solo of their longtime producer Harris Johns, and it's got than a few surprises for listeners in this updated version. As far as re-recordings of classic material, this is how it's done.
The new material on Bombenhagel unloads big firepower as well. "Coup De Grace" speeds ahead with brute force, and tips their helmets to Sodom's often present punk influences. Drummer Toni Merkel switches up the beat in this one to a Ramones-style floor tom groove, so all the thrash metal freaks can taste a little "rock rock, rockaway beach" as they mosh their faces off.
As always, Angelripper's sinister vocals remain front and center, the sepulchral voice that narrates every Sodom song. For a dude pushing sixty, Tom Angelripper's throat attack seems to sweeten with a little extra venom on every passing album. The perfect balance of bite and coarseness that coats his insidious larynx is remarkable. To hear him bellow lines like "Your soul disappears!" on "Coup De Grace" are some of the highlights of this album.
"Pestiferous Posse" matches its leering alliteration with some heavy ass breakdowns. There's something really goofy and heartwarming to hear Angelripper moan lyrics like "Poisterous…POSS-EE!" and then follow it up with lines about his bullets hitting one's body. Once again, Angelripper and company produce another song that seems all but guaranteed to inspire slam dances and circle pits at concerts. Sometimes, a band is only as memorable as their craziest mosh pit experiences they inspire for audiences.
Short and sweet, with plenty of meat, Bombenhagel is another heavy hitter from Sodom. Tom Angelripper and his war party have stuck to their cannons and held the line since the early eighties. Many of their peers have broken up, experimented with more commercially appealing styles of music to stay relevant, or simply mellowed out, and released increasingly formulaic rehashes, but Sodom have only moved forward with quality albums, and always with an eye on aggression. Bombenhagel is a compact celebration of their caustic chemistry. The spoils of Sodom's long running crusade are bestowed upon all of us.