Sodom

Better Off Dead

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Taking into account Sodom's dwindling career prospects at the time of its release (among other problems, longtime guitar slinger Frank "Blackfire" Gosdzik had only recently defected to superior competitors Kreator), Better Off Dead was a title so un-ironic, so deliciously apropos, that it left one wondering just who was in on the joke...or, what exactly was the joke...oh, never mind. Who's to say what was going through bassist/singer Tom Angelripper's mind just then, but there's no question that, when they cobbled together this LP, Sodom were swimming against a powerful current, inexorably pushing them toward terminal obscurity. And it shows, since, on the one hand, reliable thrashers like "An Eye for an Eye," "Bloodtrails," and the quite good "Shellfire Defense" stayed true to (even though falling short of) old glories; while on the other, abnormally melodic experiments like "Turn Your Head Around" and the absolutely painful "Resurrection" invaded unprecedented realms of standard rock & roll and very questionable pop-metal, respectively. (One could also question the validity of Sodom performing a surprisingly accurate cover of Thin Lizzy's "Cold Sweat," but hey, ain't nothing wrong with a little Lizzy now and then!) Amid this head-spinning mélange (and for old-school fans, even such cautious diversity smelled pretty fishy), confused purists looking for signs of their old friends Sodom gladly dug their teeth into the far more familiar moshing mania of "Tarred & Feathered," or the solid, mid-paced head-banger "The Saw Is the Law." All combine to make Better Off Dead a decidedly patchy, but far from terrible outing for the Germans -- far worse was yet to come....

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