Saturday, December 3, 2011

Sodom - Witching Metal (1982)

Witching Metal is the first demo release from Sodom, spawned in 1982. This hellish recording took the aggression of Motörhead and evil approach of Venom to the next step. Though crude, the cover art represents the sound, perfectly. The line-up of Angelripper, Aggressor and Witchhunter were among the first to step into the raging fires of Hell and to make a blood oath to Satan, himself, vowing to visit the curse of Black Metal upon the mortal realm.

The sound quality is really shoddy, with everything coming together in a wall of noise. This is the sort of production obtained when the recorder is under a bed in the next room. However, if you listen very closely and allow your ears to tune out the hissing of the tape and to really focus, it starts to become clearer. Angelripper's vocals, though muffled, still convey a barbaric fury that someone like Tom Warrior failed to ever tap into. The guitar and bass blend together, partially due to the tone, but also because of the poor quality. During the lead solos, Aggressor's work manages to slice through the noise, sounding quite similar to the axemanship of Kerry King, of Slayer. Even Witchhunter's drumming is fairly decipherable, despite everything else.

The material is very primitive and straightforward. There is a raw and hellish feeling to this, with a malevolent wrath that even exceeds that of the mighty Venom. The drumming is fast-paced, helping to carry the songs at a break-neck speed. The riffing is monotonous, at times, mostly due the the piss-poor production concealing so much of what is going on. For much of the recording, the guitar and bass join together to create a sinister rumbling that is accompanied by Angelripper's possessed ravings. Aggressor's chaotic solo work adds to the atmosphere of Hell and damnation, so much that one can almost feel the flames. For whatever reason, "Witching Metal" is the only song on here that made it onto In the Sign of Evil, though all of the material is of the same quality. However, Grave Violator's playing style would not have suited the music as well, in all likelihood.

Sodom's Witching Metal demo is a hideous and menacing slab of old school Black Metal. This is for anyone that worships the early material from Venom, Bathory, Hellhammer, etc. It may be difficult to pick up on, at first, but it is worth the effort. Forget the keyboards, female vocals and photos depicting self-mutilation. This is real Black Metal.