Ten Black Years: The Best of Sodom

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As was the case with their very uneven career, Sodom's two-disc greatest-hitsset, Ten Black Years: The Best of Sodom, is not the sort of collection one can easily appreciate when heard from start to finish. Strewn across its whopping 36 tracks and two-hour-plus running time, are equal amounts of Teutonic speed metal landmarks ("Outbreak of Evil," "Nuclear Winter," "Agent Orange," "Sodomy and Lust," etc.), and well-intentioned, but generally failed stabs at modern death metal ("Masquerade in Blood," "Unwanted Youth," etc.). The embarrassing commercial sellout that was career low "Resurrection" has no place in this, or any other anthology, and whether or not Sodom's spirited Motörhead and Venom covers should have made the cut is also subject to debate. But, most disappointing of all is the collection's distinct and ill-advised lean toward Sodom's hit-and-miss latter-day material (particularly the excessive submissions from 1994's poorly produced Get What You Deserve LP) at the expense of those rough-necked, but twice as seminal early favorites. Including only "Outbreak of Evil" from the debut EP is almost excusable, but picking not a single submission from first album Obsessed by Cruelty is just unforgivable. Purists may also take issue with the fact that a number of tracks ("Remember the Fallen," "Bombenhagel," the aforementioned "Sodomy and Lust") come in the shape of live versions, rather than studio originals. But at least in the latter's case, the alternate is too damn good to complain about -- plus, you should own the original album, Persecution Mania, anyway. Finally, the absence of any liner notes to explain the various premiere tracks on offer here -- not to mention the mislabeled song list on the inlay -- leaves little doubt that Steamhammer were mostly looking to screw their former charges for splitting to another label with this set. Now that's class! In the end, although Ten Black Years visits virtually every facet of Sodom's long run, one is probably better-served with individual studio albums like Persecution Mania or Agent Orange.

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