Starting in 2018, line-up instability cast a cloud over decades-old German institution Sodom and its bassist/vocalist/founder, Tom ‘Angelripper’ Such. The revolving door was, in part, because Angelripper wanted the band he founded in 1982 to be comprised of local Ruhr district dudes who could regularly get together to rehearse and write instead of succumbing to the ways of the digital world. Old habits die hard for the old school, and with an overhauled line-up that includes drummer Toni Merkel and guitarists Frank ‘Blackfire’ Gosdzik (ex-Kreator) and Yorck Segatz, the quartet repaired to a dingy, beer’n’sweat-scented room to piece together full-length number 16.
Genesis XIX manifests this backstory. The songs possess elevated tempos and a stripped-down rawness with minimal layering cluttering up the mix. The production quality speaks to this edict as well, sounding somewhere between a garage-y analogue recording and the result of the band time-travelling back to 1986 to use the same studio and board settings as Destruction’s Eternal Devastation. Overall, it’s speedy, no-frills thrash pushing toward the coarse and crude side of the spectrum.
The trouble is much of the album steamrolls the listener without nuance and a dynamic limited to ‘fast parts and half-time mosh parts’. The complete lack of intricacy and gradation wouldn’t be so bad if the production delivered a more punishing tone and execution, but as such, seven-minute tunes The Harponeer and the title track end up bloated and overwrought. Even songs of more reasonable length for the band’s preferred ‘a couple of riffs and a solo’ stylistic structure often go nowhere fast, Euthanasia and Glock’n’Roll being obvious offenders. That’s not to say a few rollicking thrashing haymakers aren’t levelled in the form of Sodom & Gomorrah, Indoctrination and Friendly Fire, but there’s enough questionable fat that even those face-to-face jam sessions weren’t able to excise.