Like many of their cohorts, Sodom has enjoyed a rush of consistent outputs many years after their classic period in which bloody diamonds like "Agent Orange" and "Tapping the Vein" had their heydays. "Epitome of Torture," album number fourteen for Tom Angelripper and his troops of Sodom, finds itself comfortable among the sort of outputs cronies like Exodus and Destruction have manufactured years beyond their primes. Embracing older elements of the traditional Sodom style and some comprehensive influences found throughout the band's discography and the thrash metal blueprint in general, "Epitome of Torture" is filled with ten conditioned anthems of pulverizing riffs and brutality. In fact, Angelripper's vocals are the harshest they've ever been, and there certainly are some keepers lurking in Sodom's hall of the tortured.
The Sodom design, not far from the likes of Destruction's, is quite simple: break out a plethora of busting riffs, shout the song title, rip out some solos, watch everything bleed to death. "Epitome of Torture" is no different, really. The only bulky difference happens to be the introduction of groovy, mid-paced sections weaseling into certain parts of the album such as the chorus of the title track. Also, some extraordinary melodic anthems like "My Final Bullet" and "Into the Skies of War" show Sodom reaching beyond their basic formula a bit, but the mild alterations are welcome and sound pretty goddamn awesome. I mean, it's Sodom; they slaughter everything no matter what they do. The parallels to other bands that have aged like so—Kreator, Destruction, Exodus, etc.—open up a lot of the record, and it comes out with a stunning amount of variation between its ten rampages, although still undeniably penned by Angelripper and company.
In terms of songwriting, Sodom's formula still hasn't dried up; they have riffs that make large dogs whimper and gym-bound meatheads soil themselves. The only little discrepancy to point out is that while all the tracks are listenable, some hooks don't dig as deep as they should. "Invocating the Demons" is a perfect example of this phenomenon: while the song itself is ripping, it doesn't leave a lasting impression. However, Bernemann's leads are utterly superb, proving the guitarist has aged well into Sodom's golden years. "Epitome of Torture" is also drummer Makka's first time sitting behind the kit for Angelripper's thrashing war machine, and his performance is sensational—I frequently found myself air-drumming to his ferocious, bombastic pounding.
Tom Angelripper's voice has grown guttural and venomous, as the Teutonic legend—snarling like a wolverine cursed with a parasite corroding its brain at the fresh age of fifty years young at this point—can still hold his own, thank you very much. So yeah, with "Epitome of Torture" you get the traditional Sodom package with a modern twist, the kind most of their cohorts have applied naturally as they've aged with several decades of activity hanging over their heads. Nothing here reaches legendary territory or deserves universal praise, but "Epitome of Torture" does a wonderful job pumping ten more bloodthirsty platters of thrash metal onto the pile of gore and shredded humans undeniably killed by previous opuses like "Agent Orange" or "Tapping the Vein." Sodom still makes violence shine in the sun like a pretty diamond. I can't ask for more.