“I had a wild ride last night with my old red Italian car, across the streets of the sunny European capital city of…” it is a phrase or unfinished sentence where it depends on the reader or the listener to fantasize or picture what it describes. Α “wild ride” could be a ride full of women and coke with-or a police chase. Sunny European capital city could have been Paris or Rome and old Italian car could have been an 1956’s Alfa Romeo Giulietta or a 1993’s Lancia Delta Integrale, if not a 1988’s Testarossa. But it wouldn’t be strange to reality if it would describe a 20 years old Fiat Seicento that leaks oil and runs without air condition in the traffic jam of Patission Street in Athens. So it is rather common wisdom to understand that whatever you say or write it is up to the receiver to appreciate it and comprehend it. But it is not so volatile when we speak about Thrash metal. Five letters – one word is enough to describe the epitome of it and Sodom is the name. Sodom can write folk songs or schlagers and sound ten thousand times more Thrash than the average groovy goofy US band. Pure rock ‘n roll feeling, punk attitude, street vibes and blasphemy is what you get in Sodom’s unholy Satan worshipping and spit on corrupted politicians, filthy working class soundtrack.
In the early nineties extreme sound had a panspermia of ideas and a great new fresh air was breeding in the atmosphere and that progressive and bold motive lasted for about 8-9 years until the end of the decade. But mostly extreme was not enough and the sound that the newer bands created were getting faster, more brutal and more edgy than ever. Thrash metal was becoming mainstream as across the Atlantic Metallica were gigantic with air playing in MTV and every teenager had a poster of Hetfield posing with his white Gibson screaming the hell out of him on their walls. Sodom could have chosen either to jump on the train of mainstream either to become proggy and more experimental. Thankfully they have chosen a third one; their own damn one track mind way…
”Tapping the Vein” is their fifth studio full-length released on August 1, 1992 by Steamhammer/SPV. It’s also the last album to feature original member Christian “Witchhunter” Dudek on drums. If the band’s early works were heavily influenced by proto black metal and fueled with inspirations from bands like Venom and Hellhammer (besides the obvious Motörhead and unsung N.W.O.B.H.M. heroes Tank), now Sodom were creating a brand new sound. Their previous effort in 1990 “Better off Dead” was definitely a great album despite the rather thin and weak production, but it was rather underestimated and subdued from the music press and the fans. In addition to that their guitarist Michael Hoffman (who had replaced Frank Blackfire) left the group, and the rest of the band had to look for another new replacement. That brought Andy Brings, a younger & more vigorous guitarist. His role was to turn Sodom into a new (modern) direction. The new direction was marked with even more violent riffs and without losing their blue collar neck breaking character. And yes the solos here are totally sick and maybe close enough to the distorted “Persecution Mania” style and probably even more wicked. As for the band’s leader, Tom Angelripper’s bass lines are thicker and his raspy vocals are full of hate and enriched with death metal like inspired growls. While the double bass drumming is once again ferocious, tight and clear that creates with the aforementioned thick bass lines, a compact, solid sound layer. The song structure has a certain (insane) direction in its simplicity taking advantage from the frenetic rhythms and the schizophrenic tempo changes. Tones of adrenaline injections would cause less allergic shocks to the unsuspecting listeners that may believe that this is a weak album.
As the nature of the album is rather ruthless and savage, the lyrics could only follow the same motive: Sodom were using strong language dealing with real-life issues leaving behind the anti-war or war themes (found only on “Back to War” and “Hunting Season.”). Besides the gory and 100% Death Metal aesthetic stimulated “Skinned Alive” and “The Crippler,” much of the lyrics are concerned with interesting themes – “Body Parts” deals with black market organ trafficking, “One Step Over the Line” is about the effects or results of prostitution, “Reincarnation,” is questioning about afterlife, “Deadline” is about death-sentence and lethal injection, and the title track is about a loss of human life due to substance abuse. I also have to mention that here we have “Wachturm”: the first Sodom song ever to be completely written in German language after some attempts on “Bombenhagel”, “Ausgebombt” and “Stalinorgel”.
Musically speaking we’ve mentioned before that Death Metal influences with the crazy high-pitched tremolos and the machine gun riffs are huge, yet Thrash elements dominate the final result. Harris Johns’ production is almost perfect (standing proud next to his legendary works in “Persecution Mania” and “Agent Orange”) with every instrument being audioble, managing to build a thick, loud and clear sound that help all the compositions to shine.
“Tapping The Vein” is another masterpiece from Gelsenkirchen’s finest sounding breath taking, chaotic, straight-forward and barbaric, but at the same time being a totally professional work from Sodom, that showed everyone that Thrash was still dangerous and merciless and only theoretically had given its place to the throne of extremity. Highlights: the whole damn album! As for the blue artwork cover, probably it says it all about the album… Knarrenheinz on steroids!!!