(TheBRHM.com) I love lists and going through albums but let’s go with something different: a head-to-head battle between two bands from Germany’s Big 4 of Thrash: Sodom vs. Kreator. Now, the original pick was Iron Maiden vs. Judas Priest but I figured “Our readers are probably all Priested out by now.”
So, let’s stick to something I love in fast and furious metal with two bands that really define that aggressive approach. Which band comes out in this war? Let’s find out in three rounds.
Album Output: Sodom
This one is more tangible. Sodom has put out more full-lengths than Kreator. That’s pretty much down to Sodom having three years on Kreator but releasing their debut a few months after Kreator’s. Sodom also had the benefit of a strong 1980s and 1990s whereas Kreator’s 1980s was stronger than their 1990s.
Both bands’ strongest decades were the 1980s but that was more of a “young and hungry” period for most old school thrash acts. It would be weird for an 80s thrash band to have their best period in the 90s when thrash and metal as a whole was pretty much on the down slope and the best work wasn’t coming out of most bands.
Best Return to Form: Kreator
The thing about this category is that a band has to have been out of form to a noticeable degree to have a return to form. Kreator had times where it was like “Let’s explore this sound” only for it to either hit decently enough or for it to just not be interesting.
I felt that Outcast was a solid-enough departure for Kreator. It wasn’t a strong album but it wasn’t particularly weak. I’d say it’s more that when I finally got around to diving into Kreator, I listened from the start of their discography—as I always do—and when I got to Outcast, it was a bit jarring but not a bad or “This sucks” jarring.
When I got to Endorama it was like “Can we get back to thrash now, please?” Meanwhile, Sodom made a departure with Get What You Deserve. It was more punkish but still had that aggression that made Sodom…Sodom. They were just a snottier Sodom this time around. Masquerade in Blood was getting back to business—or rather trying to get back to business after you’ve been on vacation while nursing an injury.
I actually preferred Endorama to MiB but the thing is that Sodom pretty much returned to its usual and even had really strong albums when the band moved on from Masquarade…they even kept the pedal to the metal with more releases in a similar period of time. Sodom was being Sodom.
Meanwhile, Kreator also bounced back with Violent Revolution which was a damn strong release. I’d say this return looks more impressive because the previous two albums were particularly low points for Kreator’s consistency and a notable departure from the sound that brought them to the dance.
To return to that sound in primo form is more impressive than returning and it just falling flat.
I’m big on consistency and honestly, both bands had similar consistency. Both bands came out big in the 80s then the 90s hit. The early 90s saw both bands deliver some really good stuff with Kreator really taking that part of the decade with Coma of Souls while Sodom’s Tapping the Vein was also ridiculously strong.
Then for some reason, things kind of wavered towards the end of the early 90s. I’m thinking it’s mainly just interest in that sound wavered when more extreme acts from the black metal and death metal realm were delivering some of their best work.
Bands such as Immortal, Gorgoroth, Autopsy, Sadus, Cannibal Corpse, and—most consistently—Death were putting out work throughout the 90s that stretched thrash metal’s roots into new subgenres that were more attention-catching and featured some true musical acrobatics mixed with intense speed.
So, this was the deciding battleground for the consistency fight because both bands managed impressive returns to form in the 2000s. However, Sodom was just more consistent throughout their run. They’re like thrash’s version of Motorhead.
Sure, it’s more of the same just different production depending on the decade but it’s a good kind of “more of the same”. It’s the “more of the same” where you want the band to never change because their formula works. Like, Sodom never had an Endorama—which wasn’t an awful album but wasn’t something I’d just listen to more than one or two times.
Their weakest effort was basically a remaster of an album that should’ve been released in the 80s as their debut—The Final Sign of Evil—and that’s mainly because it seemed like step backward from where the band was heading in the 2000s. It’s even sandwiched between two good albums.
Kreator’s fellow North Rhine-Westphalia statemen takes this one 2-1. If this was a five-criteria battle, Kreator would’ve stood a better chance and we’ll definitely see rematch when I come up with five criteria. I had four but that could’ve either been a tie and in The Black Rock and Heavy Metal Head 2 Head arena, there can only be one.
Sodom’s greatest strength is the band’s consistency which pretty much eliminated it from taking the “Best Return to Form” category and the “Album Output” could been different if Kreator released more albums in the 2000s and 2010s.
“Album Output” was the quantity part of the Head 2 Head whereas “Consistency” was the quality over time. I felt that combined with “Album Output”, Sodom just had the edge but it could’ve also been a hinderance if Sodom was in peak 90s thrash period where the band just consistently dropped mediocre stuff in that decade.
Staff Writer; M. Swift
This talented writer is also a podcast host, and comic book fan who loves all things old school. One may also find him on Twitter at; metalswift.