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Classic Review: Sodom - In the Sign of Evil/Obsessed by Cruelty
In the Sign of Evil/Obsessed by Cruelty

Label: SPV
Year released: 1988
Duration: 57:09
Tracks: 19
Genre: Black/Thrash

Rating: 5/5

Review online: January 11, 2006
Reviewed by: Chaossphere
Readers Rating
In the Sign of Evil/Obsessed by Cruelty

Rated 4.3/5 (85.96%) (47 Votes)

Well, what the hell do you say about classics such as this? In this case, first off I'm going to cop-out and whinge about the presentation. This 2-on-1 is possibly the worst example of label tomfoolerly ever created. The packaging is far too minimal (although at least they didn't just bung small thumbnails of both covers on the front of the booklet), and the tracklist is a bloody mess. The one shown here is correct, but what happened here is that SPV used the tracklist for the European version of the album, and the music from the US one – which, in addition to having a different mix and track order, is also missing a song which appeared on the European release. Add in a total of four unlisted intro/outro/interlude tracks, and you have a complete failure.

Anyway, enough of that - on to the music. Early Sodom is quite simply some of the most vile, filthy blackened thrash metal ever unleashed upon earth. This makes Kreator and Exodus's early efforts seem positively over-polished in comparison. Bashed out at maximum possible speed, and executed with slightly less precision than a chainsaw-wielding epileptic attempting to cut down a tree in the midst of a seizure, these two efforts stand side-by-side as monumental tributes to the power of metal to overcome limitations. Such limitations include incompetent engineers, shit-hole studios and general lack of instrumental prowess on the part of the band. Yep, these guys have since become an extremely tight unit (after going through a shitload of different guitarists), but back in the day Sodom were just three angry German punks with energy to burn and the will to create a lot of noise.

In The Sign Of Evil kicks off with "Outbreak Of Evil" and never lets up for one second. It often seems like all three members are playing different songs at once – in fact, there's one verse in "Burst Command til War" where it's plainly obvious they're doing just that! But fuck it, this is just so damn catchy and vicious that it takes about 3 seconds to stop giving a shit about such insignificant trivia and concentrate on banging your head to the ferocious metallic violence. The mix here is surprisingly thick, which is more than can be said for Obsessed By Cruelty. On the full-length, the drums become tighter but also much louder, while the guitar sound is reduced to a rather flat buzz. The bass remains a belching, farting monster, and Tom Angelripper's vocals never let up for a second, but you'll be struggling to make out the riffs on this one. I've no idea if the European version is any better, but since it's seemingly unavailable on CD, I'll probably never know. Not to worry, you get used to the mix after a bit, and that simply allows for even more metallic insanity to pierce your cranium.

In short, both these releases are essential metal. On their later 80's albums Sodom would become a far more refined outfit and create two of the greatest thrash albums ever in Persecution Mania and Agent Orange, but nothing beats these for sheer manic depravity and evil atmosphere. So if you don't have this already, go buy it and prepare to be Sodomized.

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