Album Review: “Agent Orange” (1989) by Sodom

Band/Artist: Sodom (Vocals/Bass: Tom Angelripper, Guitar: Frank Blackfire, Drums: Chris Witchhunter)

Album: Agent Orange (1989)

Genre: Thrash Metal

Label: Steamhammer, SPV

This is my review of the 1989 album ‘Agent Orange’ by German thrash metal band, Sodom. Agent Orange was the third studio album by the band and it was a commercial breakthrough for the band, selling over 100,000 copies in Germany alone. The album has a Vietnam war theme to it with some songs directly referencing things from the Vietnam war due to the lead singers fascination with the Vietnam war, such as Agent Orange. So let’s get into the songs.

1. Agent Orange – Agent Orange starts off heavy, with a headbangingly good riff and kick ass drums. The song then slows and builds up to this awesome thrash song that would get any thrash lover going. The songs named is taken from the chemical weapon used during the Vietnam war to destroy much of Vietnam. I feel with the meaning behind the song and the intensity of how hard it hits, it is definitely one of the most memorable thrash songs in history. An excellent song with a fantastic riff, heavy drumming, raw singing and a great solo.

2. Tired and Red – This track immediately starts heavy as all hell and had me headbanging. The lyrics are all about warfare and how horrifying it all really is. The riff is absolutely fantastic but then about halfway through it slows down into this beautiful melodic piece of music that reminds me of the soundtrack from the video game Diablo II (2000) and then we’re not finished yet, oh no my friends. The song builds into this heavy metal solo that absolutely does nothing but rock before travelling you back to the heavy thrash again! An amazing song and one of my favourite on the album.

3. Incest – Okay lets deal with the elephant in the room, the song is about wanting to have sex with your sister and how she is enticing you to have sex with her. A very strange subject and I have no idea what the hell they are talking about. Apart from that the song is very heavy and another hard hitting thrash song which gets me to move my head up and down. In saying that there is nothing that really stands out for me in this song. It’s good but not great, I mean it’s heavy and the riff is pretty good and the drums are banging as ever, it’s just sort of a generic thrash song.

4. Remember the Fallen – A slower and more heavy metal orientated song which there is nothing wrong with. The song is about the fallen soldiers of war and how patronising it is to honour these men and women who are just treated as cannon fodder and how they die in senseless wars and how much of a waste it is. The song is raw and heavy and one of the more technical songs on the album. A very enjoyable song and a nice break from the constant headbanging from the last three songs cause you’ll do yourself a neck injury with all that headbanging. I feel it shows their talent a lot more when they vary the metal that is being used.

5. Magic Dragon – The song starts with some superb guitar work which I thoroughly enjoyed. The song itself is about Duc Lap Camp, a US military camp in Vietnam that was attacked by the Vietcong and resulted in the death of 366 people, on both sides of the conflict. It speaks about the chaos that is going on as the attack is happening. The Magic Dragon itself is actually an aircraft called the Douglas AC-47 Spooky which was an aircraft that provided ground support to the US military. The song itself is pretty good, but not amazing or that memorable to me. I mean it works and it rocks hard but to me it’s only pretty good. Would I listen to it again? Sure of course, but it wouldn’t be in my top ten songs list let’s just say that.

6. Exhibition Bout – This song is interesting in the subject that it talks about, Bull fighting and how horrific the “sport” is. It also talks about how people actually pay money to watch something so cruel happening to these animals. The song is pretty good, a decent thrash song but nothing that really stands out to me, well apart from the kick ass solo, that is pretty awesome. Another good song but not a great one.

7. Ausgebombt – The drums! My lordy lordy lord, the drums are great! From the first moment I was headbanging to the drums. The theme of the song is an anti war song and telling people to stop trading in war and weapons and death which to this guy being me is a pretty good statement. Another good song with a decent guitar riff and singing but the king of this song is by far the drums for me.

8. Baptism of Fire – This song hits you like a ton of bricks from the get go and it continues to do it throughout the entire song. One of the heaviest songs on the album and one that I absolutely had a great time listening to. The song slows down to another guitar shredding solo and one that makes me want to turn up the volume. A pretty bad ass song that will be in my play list for a long time.

9. Don’t Walk Away – This song is a cover of British heavy metal band’s Tank song of the same name. I think Sodom done a great job with it. They stayed true to the original but they also made it their own and made it just that bit heavier. The band is absolutely on point and in turn are playing some top class heavy metal. An excellent cover to a pretty good song.

Final thoughts:

I first heard of Sodom from some crappy thrash compilation album I bought in HMV (RIP) about fifteen years ago. It was a five cd thrash compilation album from various artists, some good, most were bad, but one of the good ones was Sodom. After hearing the song Agent Orange from that collection I had to find the album and I did and I listened to it again and again and I loved it. Agent Orange is to me a supreme thrash album that is up there with the likes of Reign in Blood (1986) from Slayer or Among the Living (1987) by Anthrax. It is a fantastic album with a lot of headbanging tracks but just enough to not get same ol’ same ol’. The band knows when to mix it up and keep you interested and I didn’t find one song boring or annoying. I would say if you’re a fan of thrash or heavy metal then give this album a listen, but I would say it would suit thrash fans more.

My favourite song on the album: Tired and Red

8/10

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