Friday, December 2, 2011

Sodom - Victims of Death (1984)

Victims of Death is the second demo tape from Sodom. It was self-released in early 1984, prior to the release of In the Sign of Evil. The quality of this cassette is fairly low, but the raw energy and hideous, old school Black Metal feeling is enough to make this worth the time to find. The line-up for this recording was Angelripper on vocals and bass, Aggressor on guitar and backing vocals and Witchhunter on drums.

The music on this demo is extremely raw and a little sloppy, but the aggression is evident and one cannot deny the dedication of this trio. For the most part, the music is fast-paced, though the title track feels like it drags quite a bit. This was certainly influenced by Venom and early Punk. Actually, the atmosphere is not too far from that of Bathory's debut album. Angelripper's vocals are somewhat harsh, though a human voice can still be heard. He definitely lacks the confidence of Cronos, but you can tell he is still developing his sound. Aggressor's guitar solos show an undeniable Slayer influence, sounding quite close to those found on Show No Mercy. It is too bad that he left the band after this, as it would have been interesting to hear his style of playing on the following records. Witchhunter's drumming maintains more of a Punk feel, throughout the demo, moving things along at a decent pace. At times, this even seems to bear some resemblance to early Hellhammer, though possessing a darker feel.

The overall production of this demo is bloody horrible. Everything is muffled and the only time the guitar takes on a sharp tone is during the solos. Otherwise, it blends in with the bass, creating kind of a muddy sound. The drumming is barely audible, at times, and the vocals are pushed back too far. This may come off as nothing more than senseless noise, unless you really listen closely and focus. Despite that, it is still easy to see the beginnings of what would be vomited forth on In the Sign of Evil.

Perhaps, Victims of Death is an acquired taste, but it is worth the effort for those that appreciate the band's earlier output. The song "Witchhammer", alone, makes this essential listening. This is a filthy and ugly piece of early Black Metal history, and should be heard (at least once) by anyone into First Wave bands such as Venom, Bathory and Hellhammer.