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Sodom's Tom "Angelripper" Such: "You have to know, I don’t believe in god and I think that a natural calamity destroyed Sodom & Gomorrah. However, the original bible story is something spectacular for a Sodom song…"

Interview with Tom "Angelripper" Such from Sodom
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 25 November 2019, 11:46 PM

Constantly busy, not letting time pass without anything to show for, to let everyone know that there are things done behind the curtain, knee deep in the shadows, later to be unleashed in a furious way possible. Following the path of their previous release's agenda, Sodom issues their new EP, "Out of the Frontline Trench", as a token for the fans and collectors, yet also to show that they are working on something bigger. Steinmetal had a chat with Tom Angelripper about the new EP, its concept, back to the roots, memories of the past, and more…

Hello Tom, it is an immense honor having you for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine, how have you been doing sir?

I am good, thanks

Since last year, Sodom has been spreading gifts for its fans, and not only, but whoever wants to listen to classic extreme kind of Thrash Metal, in the image of the last three EPs, including the brand new “Out of the Frontline Trench”. About “Partisan”, I can relate as you presented a new lineup, and it felt like a show of force, yet with the last two, how much teasing can be done before the new album next year or there is a different reason?

We just want to show, that we are still active and busy in the song writing process and these two Eps are also some fodder for the collector’s scene. Currently, we are rehearsing new songs and ideas for the forthcoming album, but we want to work it out without any time-pressure, so we didn`t discuss about a release date with the record company. But, if everything will be prepared we try to release in the end of 2020. I realize that the upcoming album could be the most important in my career. I want to make sure, that everything will be fixed perfect and satisfying.

Let’s go back a bit. After “Decision Day” you made a household cleanup, and emerged again with a brand new lineup, transforming Sodom into a foursome band. Other than your friendship with Frank Blackfire, what made you change a lineup that has been with you since 2013, especially with Bernd Kost since 1996? Did you feel that a change was badly needed?

Yes, that was a hard decision, but to keep the band going on I had to react.  But after splitting up with them, I got in touch with Blackfire to join the band. I knew that he has his own solo project and also playing with Assassin. He told me, that these bands are not so busy at the time and he will spend enough time to join the Sodom for upcoming rehearsal session and live show. That was amazing and it seems like a big chance for him to return into the international metal scene. When we rehearsed "Nuclear Winter", "Sodomy & Lust" and "Christ Passion" for the first time, I was so astonished that the guitar sound is exactly the same like on "Persecution Mania" or "Agent Orange" albums. Now, we are able to reproduce the songs in an original way during the live sets.

Husky and Yorck as well are big Sodom fans, so they came up with a lot of ideas for new songs and upcoming setlists. And yes, it seems like a big family to me now and there is a huge friendship between the musicians.

You called your new EP, “Out of the Frontline Trench”, a sign of life for your fans. However, there were signs of life earlier on? What made this occasion so different than the other EPs you released in the margin of a year?

This EP is just the state of things and shortens the waiting time for the fans until the album release. We are always busy in writing new songs but this EP demonstrates one more time that we never stop. We are satisfied with all the new “Back to the roots” material. There are a lot of bands out there who talk about “back to the roots”, but we did it. The EP reflects exactly the sound we all love so much. Especially the production is very rough and inexorable.

“Genesis 19”, the opening track of the EP, is going biblical, creating a kind of an interesting, and brutal, angle to the Sodom and Gomorrah events. What have you found so interesting about this story? The fact that there is a tight collision between science and religion on the matter of what happened back then or the overall story of good and evil that it entails?

You are right, that is a bible story about the destruction of Sodom & Gomorrah (book Genesis). It`s very interesting to read, and also a huge inspiration for me. You have to know, I don’t believe in god and I think that a natural calamity destroyed Sodom & Gomorrah. However, the original bible story is something spectacular for a Sodom song… Genesis will prevail the whole world, if we don`t stop to live like there is no tomorrow.

When it comes to the music featured on “Genesis 19”, it appears that Sodom has gone darker, slightly tracing back to its older self of the mid 80s, evil, dirty and bloody. How do you perceive the musical direction through this track? Does it provide a good idea of what is to be expected from the upcoming album?

When we started rehearsal sessions for writing new songs, we never think about what will be the result or what direction it will go. There is no influence then. We do the songs like we always did and in the end we decide if good or not. In my opinion it`s very important to create chorus lines you listen once and never forget and that was exactly the way "Genesis 19" and all the other songs were born.

The next tracks, “Down On Your Knees” and “Out Of The Frontline Trench”, display Sodom of the late 80s and early 90s, less into the blackened features and more into pure Thrash Metal onslaught, profoundly made. To be honest, too bad that these two wouldn’t become part of the upcoming album. What is your appreciation of these two songs musically? Is it a side of Sodom that has to remain and continued no matter what? Is there a reason why not to reconsider including at least one of these songs into the album?

Yes, these two songs are exclusively for the new EP. The 90s albums were more powerful and aggressive than the 80s stuff. So we try to mix all the different styles without losing our typical trademarks. Many trends come and go, but we`ll keep the line. People who like the 80s will not be disappointed by the new songs. We want to look forward but we never forget where we came from

Both songs mentioned, were a sort of a history lesson for you, and I can understand that you are a history follower. While going through sights, scribes and scenes of WWI, what shocked you the most? Have you had thoughts of whether this kind of total war can become a reality nowadays?

Last year I got some photos and letters of my grandfather, handed down by my aunt. So, all the recollections, my grandfather told me about his fighting and living in trenches in WWI, came back. So I start looking documentaries and reading books about that. Please don’t misunderstand me, war has always been a big theme for all the Sodom lyrics the last three decades and always will be. But these lyrics also reflect the present time. The world will change to the worst. There will be no more security for all of us. Everything seems running out of control. Democratic politicians lose more and more power. Radical groups will prevail. I am not scared about myself but I am scared about the next generations and my kiddies. How will the world look like in 30 or 40 years? This piece is treacherous; it’s just an armistice, the calm before the big storm!  But anyway, always a big inspiration to me.

Next year, Sodom is to celebrate a three-decades anniversary to one of its classic albums, voted by many as the best, the “Agent Orange” album. After all these years, when you sit down and listen to that album, what goes through you? Does it make you remember how it was back then every time? Do you see it as the album that made Sodom what it is today?

Oh yes, time is running so fast. But “Agent Orange” is not the best Sodom album and not even my favorite. It was the perfect album for that period and of course, the most successful

Armed with the guitarist that was there with you back in the day, the new EP features a re-recorded version of the title track, “Agent Orange”. How did it feel recording it? You probably made comparisons, which version to like most?

The new recording is identical to the original one! We want to reveal that we never changed anything after all the decades! We played this song in nearly every show and after Frank’s return it sound exactly like the original, so we keep the spirit of all the older songs. The price for a three track EP is the same like a five track, so these two songs a just a bonus and for free.

Do you miss those early days? Was it much simpler back then, less complicated, everyone hungry for this kind of music, always on the lookout?

Oh yes, I miss… The scene was small and clear. Just a handful bands did that kind of music. It was like a big family and we supported each other. We were outlaws and we felt that this music is something special and directed us to a life full of music and outside normality. We just did the music as a kind of revolution against the parents, teachers and establishment and also against Posers and Poppers, who hated our musical direction. Metal fans were a minority, because music like “Deutsche Welle” and “New Wave” was very popular in the beginning of the 80th. I was in a school class with 30 pupils and I was the only one who listened to metal. That was strange, but we respected each other. I think the whole metal scene changed for the worst, because it’s getting more confusing in these times.

The song, “Agent Orange”, when you played live, seeing the younger generation, do they appreciate the historic gem that is being played before them? Are they bashing their skulls against the stage by countless headbanging or the song actually reflects only to the early generation that lived on your music?

Yes, they do. I am so glad to see the new generation of Metalheads in our show and I really appreciate the fact, that they are interested in older and historical bands. They realize that we are the pioneers in this genre. So, songs like “Agent Orange” will be classics until the end. But for me, "Agent Orange was" a milestone in my career. That gave me the opportunity to make my living just from the music and I could quit my job at the coalmine. That was like a dream come true.

Lastly, you included a manic live version of the classic, “Bombenhagel”. What do you remember of that home front show in 2018?

We played in my hometown Gelsenkirchen (Veltins Arena), supporting the German Band “Böhse Onkelz” in front of 70,000 people. That was awesome. They recorded our show and later we got the tracks for ourselves. So we mixed in our small studio. Later I came up with the idea to put it on our new EP, just as a special bonus for our loyal fans. This version is the heaviest and fastest we ever recorded.

The sound of the EP is very bright, crystal clear. What can you tell about the production made? What is your take on the quality of the sound? Is this sound pattern to lead Sodom in to the upcoming album?

Yes, think it’s the way we recorded. We recorded all the instruments with microphones, no trigger signals on the drums, no digital amplifiers like Kemper etc. I think there is a special magic between speakers and mics, hard to explain, but this will be the way we want to record the next album. Klaus Spangenberg is a perfect Sodom producer for us and also a big Fan, especially the older material.

Can you share some of the schedule regarding the making of the new album?

There is no exactly time schedule or release date yet, but we hope to release it in the end of 2020…if God wills haha

Tom, I wish to thank you for this interview, it was quite an honor and I am glad that we had a chance to discuss prior to the new album. All the best. Cheers!

Thanx and hope to see you soon, Tom Angelripper



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