Sodom – Tapping The Vein (1992)
AKA Stormtroopers Advancing Under Gas: The Band. The production on this album is blatantly huge in a way that must not be ignored under any circumstances. While Sodom remains in a typical “extreme” speed-thrash mode here (if perhaps more concise than on previous albums), the huge, crunchy guitars make this sort of an under-noticed gem in their discography. The key to understanding my affinity for Tapping the Vein isn’t solely its production, but how it fits Sodom’s own affinities, which tend towards the violent and percussive even within their own genre.
You see, Sodom never really got away from their apparent hardcore punk roots to an extent rarely matched by their contemporaries. Interestingly enough, this would peak mere albums later before (if I understand correctly) Sodom returned to the more elaborate style they’d used in the late-1980s. The writing here is generally pretty basic, with a big emphasis on vocals and catchy choruses. To be fair, though, Sodom was never too concerned with complicated songwriting. Vocals here have improved from previous material by Sodom – at times, Tom “Angelripper” Such adopts a style based around shouts as opposed to snarls and shrieks and comes out more expressive and assertive for it. However, even his previous style of vocals comes across better on this album than on previous ones.
While the band’s roots show rather more than on… let’s say Agent Orange for simplicity’s sake, they’re still writing the same kinds of songs as they were back then. Tapping the Vein alternates between intense, blurry tremolo riffing and a few slower, almost doomy songs. The guitarist this time around is the relatively obscure Andy Brings. In contrast to Frank “Blackfire” Gosdzik’s relatively technical style (also heard on contemporaneous works by Kreator), Brings plays a lot of one note riffs linked together by various ornamental frills, like the chord progression before the first vocals in “Skinned Alive”, although there are more traditional/complicated riffs as well to hold songs together whenever Angelripper has to breathe. I wouldn’t have expected the simpler material on here to work, but it actually does sometimes, probably because when I listen to Sodom, I go in expecting pretty basic stuff.
Anyways, perhaps the greatest fault this album has is that its longer songs get repetitive due to the simple materials used to construct them. On its briefer songs, Tapping the Vein manages to successfully tap into realms of intensity that recall their formative works, but their more elaborate material isn’t as successful due to not being quite elaborate enough. It also serves as a valuable example of how a good production can draw me to content I might otherwise not pursue. Has that ever happened to you, the reader? I’d like to know.
Highlights: “Body Parts”,”Bullet in the Head”,”Hunting Season”