As one of the unholy triumvirate of German thrash, Sodom was always heavier and more evil sounding than either Kreator or Destruction, and owed a huge debt to Motorhead and Venom. Second album `Persecution Mania' recorded in 1987 was a huge step up from the earlier, more primitive output, with a few dents hammered out of the unrelenting Sodom war machine.
As a three piece band Sodom were never going to be overly technical. The riffing is as basic as you'll ever find anywhere, but let's face it, riffs are what thrash metal is all about, and these sound good.
The album's lyrical content showed a transition taking place. The cheesy Satanic imagery was on the outer, being replaced by a more thoughtful anti-war lyrical stance.
The first of the anti-war songs, "Nuclear Winter", has a similar wailing guitar effect Slayer used, and indicated the band were lifting their game as far as complexity went.
Frank Blackfire's solos through the song are chaotic and far from precise, but it doesn't seem to matter.
The other anti-war song "Bombenhagel" (literal translation "hail of bombs") pointed directly where the classic `Agent Orange' was going to go. The band finally explored dynamics outside just playing as fast as they could. It links several slower passages with heads down thrash outs and bass solos, and pinches the militaristic melody from "Das Lied der Deutschen" (the German national anthem), perhaps as a comment on Germany's conflict filled past. The song finally descends into an ad-libbed groove conclusion.
And the Motorhead influence? Try a cover of the always gutsy "Iron Fist". The simplistic but effective bass line is seems perfectly suited to the album, almost like it was written for Sodom, and Tom Angelripper's take on Lemmy's lyrics add a vicious tone.
"Conjuration" borrows a little from "Overkill" and even the previously aired "Iron Fist", with a vigorous, bass driven theme and a riff which is simplicity itself. It first appeared as "Satan's Conjuration" on the band's early demo `Victims Of Death'.
Often though, Sodom careen along like a runaway train, often playing far too fast for their own good, only just managing to rein things moments before derailment. The title track is a perfect example. Drummer Chris Witchhunter has never been technically proficient, but was usually adequate enough. He seemed to be trying to play catch up on the track, while Angelripper had difficulty trying to spit out the multi-syllabic lyrics. Only Frank Blackfire seemed to cope with the pace of the song, firing out riffs and solos with ease.
"Outbreak Of Evil" and the three tracks from the `Expurse Of Sodomy' single were added to the album on its re-release. "Outbreak Of Evil" came from the overtly Satanic and wonderfully primal `In The Sign of Evil' EP, while the other three tracks sound little different to the majority of the album.
While not the thrash essential `Agent Orange' is, `Persecution Mania' is a terrifying monster of an album when put alongside pallid, limp offerings of the time like Megadeth's `Peace Sells', Testament's `The Legacy' or Exodus' `Pleasures Of The Flesh'.