I am about to take any metal cred I may think I have and throw it right out the window. I had never heard S.O.D. before this album. I can hear your shocked gasps from where I am. I had always been aware of them, I knew it was two member of Anthrax, Scott Ian and Charlie Benante, a former Anthrax/Nuclear Assault member in Dan Lilker, and a guy named Billy Milano. You see, I was late to the metal scene so I missed a lot of stuff that I have not yet worked back around to. Anyway, I have in my possession what may be the final release of S.O.D. material, and it is pretty much what I was expecting.
I did have a little bit of an introduction to the music of S.O.D. back in the 1990s when Anthrax released Attack of the Killer B's. That album included Anthrax versions of "Chromatic Death" and "Milk." They were good, but much cleaner than the live versions presented here. This EP just may be the longest one ever released, comprised of four new tracks and a full 20 song live set. They probably could have released it as a live album with the bonus inclusion of the new cuts. Not that it makes any bit of difference.
Rise of the Infidels starts with a song that was initially called "Pathmark Song" and has since been retitled to "Stand Up and Fight." It is fast and furious with a message, a message which doubles as the title. If you can pick the words out of the hardcore thrash you will find words that tell you to stand up for yourself, stop being spineless. That is followed up by "Java Amigo" which features a strong hardcore base with thrashy interludes as it rages against the current state of coffee. Are you tired of Starbucks? This just may be the song for you. Third is "United and Strong," a cover of an Agnostic Front song that they performed live once with Roger Miret of Agnostic Front. The final new cut making up the EP is "Ready to Fight," another cover track. This time it comes from Negative Approach, a punk band that was a favorite of Billy Milano's.
The new recordings are good, filled with anger, humor, and pure, in your face aggression. The recording is raw. The production quality is good, but in a very stripped down way. It almost sounds like they were recorded live in the studio, and it would not surprise me if they were. The style is pretty much what I expected, a furious mix of hardcore and thrash with the crazed vocals from Milano backed by the riffs from Ian, the insanely fast drumming of Benante, and the raw bass of Lilker.
The band was formed as a side project during Anthrax's recording in 1985, Ian wrote some crazy songs, enlisted the lineup mentioned above, and the forefathers of the thrash metal/hardcore blends was born. They were/are a band filled with sarcastic humor, pointed lyrics (if you can make them out), and above all insane energy levels, all of which were put on display during this live set from a club called Fenix in Seattle, WA, recorded back in 1999.
The Stormtroopers of Death kicked off the set with "The Ballad of Nirvana" which led into "March of the S.O.D." It was quite a way to start a show in Seattle — begin a Nirvana cut and ending it abruptly with "He's dead!" A good example of what S.O.D. says they are about. They rip through some old school songs highlighted with the purposeful pit chugger "Milano's Mosh" not to mention a band staple "Speak English or Die" which includes a Slayer interlude. Everything is delivered in an inimitable style that was so influential so many years ago.
The middle portion of the set is made up of S.O.D.'s tributes to dead music stars, in true tongue in cheek fashion. These include Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, INXS, Frank Sinatra, Nirvana (again), and Freddy Mercury. Great stuff, this is not a band to hold anything back as their creation is something of a rebellion against that which became the mainstream.
The final portion takes us through the likes of "Cromatic Death," "Fist Banging Mania," and "Milk." The latter includes the needed band introductions. They wrap everything up with "Freddy Krueger" and "United Forces."
This must have been a draining show. The pace pretty much never lets up. The performances are good, Charlie Benante is an amazing drummer, and Scott Ian has some of the best rhythms in the business. Milano's voice did not do much for me, but his "F You!" attitude makes up for it. I need to track down the original album now.
Bottomline. I know, it took way too long to become acquainted with the 'troopers,' but I am here now. This disk is quite good. It is no technical masterpiece, nor is it filled with deep and insightful lyrics, but it has such energy and wild humor you cannot help but enjoy it.Powered by Sidelines