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

Album Review: “Bleach” (1989) by Nirvana

Band/Artist: Nirvana (Vocals/Guitar: Kurt Cobain, Bass Guitar: Krist Novoselic, Drums: Chad Channing)

Album: Bleach (1989)

Genre: Grunge, Punk Rock, Hard Rock, Indie Rock

Label: Subpop

Hello everybody, this my review of the album Bleach by grunge rockers, Nirvana. Bleach was the first studio album by the Seattle band and boy does it rock hard. The album is made up of eleven tracks and I will be speaking about each of them individually and then the album as a whole. Bleach did not chart on it’s initial release but the critics were impressed by it. Before Nevermind was released in 1991, Bleach sold 40,000 copies in North America alone. After Nevermind came out though and Nirvana became the one of the most popular bands of the nineties, Bleach became certified Platinum by the RIAA and has went on to sell 1.9 Million copies and that’s only the United States. Now this review may be a little bias as Nirvana are my favourite band of all time and Kurt Cobain was an inspiration to me growing up. Funnily enough, Bleach was the last Nirvana album I purchased after Nevermind and In Utero. So here is my run down on each of the songs:

  1. Blew – Blew comes in with a very strong start for the album. That initial bass line really gets you into the song and then the rest of the band kicks in with the hard drumming and dirty, grimy guitar playing. Kurt Cobain’s singing is on point in this song, but for me the bass line has to be the winner. Overall a fantastic song!
  2. Floyd the Barber – Another grimy and very raw song that is more about feeling then technical work. The drums are very vibrant and raw and make you head bang and along with that guitar it is a match made in heaven and then it suddenly gets to the chorus and you can hear the talent from all three members of the band, But Cobain’s singing really steals the show at the chorus.
  3. About a Girl – One of the more technical songs on the album, it is not a hard song to play, but boy it is fun. The band seems to really come together and they make something really special. Chad Channing’s soft drumming throughout the verses for it to come alive during the solo really adds to it. The bass line by Krist Novoselic is superb in the background and Cobain’s guitar playing and vocals are absolutely top notch. Definitely one of my favourite Nirvana songs.
  4. School – One of the more raw and grungier songs on the album. This song gives me the feeling that you are only meant to rock out to it instead of really listening to it. The hard pounding of the drums to the roar of the guitar during the chorus really gets you in the groove. Cobain’s voice in really good and it really gives you the angst vibe you usually get with Grunge.
  5. Love Buzz – This is a cover of a Dutch band called Shocking Blue and Nirvana really made it their own. The bass is absolutely fantastic, not overly crazy but it definitely adds to the charm of the song. This was the song that was released on Nirvana’s first EP and it released as their debut song. Truly I feel like everything is secondary to the bass line in this song, not that everything else is bad, god no! But the bass line is so good that it just makes me bop my head back and forth. Excellent song.
  6. Paper Cuts – One of the best songs on the album. The tone of the song is so raw and dirty and grimy and one of the hardest hitting songs on the album! Cobain’s voice blew me away on this. There is something about the shout at the end of every line of the verse. I feel like the band were pulling out all the stops for this song and it really shows. A true grunge song.
  7. Negative Creep – This song will definitely get the crowd going. The pace is faster than other songs on the album but none of the instruments hit any less and Cobain sings a lot fiercer. There seems to be a lot of feeling and emotion to this song and you can feel it from each band member doing their job and doing it well. Amazing song!
  8. Scoff – Another technically impressive song. There is a lot to this song, from the boppy verses to the droning chorus, its a song that has a lot of parts and each of them work well as a whole. My personal choice for the bits that stand out have to be the drums though. The drumming throughout is absolutely fantastic and definitely makes the song.
  9. Swap Meet – From the awesome guitar to the excellent singing from Cobain, Swap Meet is a very fun song from start to finish. The chorus is where is stands out though. It really ties the song together from a sort of monotony to a chorus that really bites. A very fun song and one of my favourite on the album.
  10. Mr. Moustache – Personally I am not a big fan of this song. It is okay, I feel if they slowed it down a tad it could have worked better. Nirvana were still finding their feet in terms of the punk scene so some of the songs lean more towards that. The thing is I like punk but I just feel that this song is a bit messy. Not a bad song, but not great.
  11. Sifting – A fantastic song! Really atmospheric and ticks all the right boxes for me. Another very raw song with a lot of angst attached to it. Cobain’s voice is absolutely on point in this song. The band compliment each other and you can really hear the contribution from each member of the band. For me the chorus is the best part, it is an absolutely awesome track and a strong ending to a tremendous album.

Final thoughts:

A remarkable debut album that really added to the grunge scene in Seattle and abroad. While the album didn’t make Nirvana a household name yet and launch them into the stratosphere of stardom that would come down the road, this album really laid the foundations of what would become their magnum opus, being Nevermind a few years later. For those who want a raw, emotion filled, dirty grunge album, but at the same time has some technically impressive work filled with a lot of talent, then Bleach is definitely one to add to your collection. Almost every song has it’s own story to tell and it’s own way of telling it and no two songs sound similar. A real work of art and an album that is a joy to listen to straight out of the gate.

My favourite song on the album: Negative Creep

9/10