Sodom’s Tom Angelripper Talks ‘Decision Day’ Album, Terrorism, Religion + More
In our interview with Sodom's Tom Angelripper, the bassist / guitarist discusses the band's 15th studio album, Decision Day. Speaking about certain events that inspired a few of the album's song, he cites certain documentaries and recent events among other things. Angelripper also provided an incredibly in-depth look into the rich symbolism of the album artwork and more. Check out the chat below.
One of the first things that jumps out in Decision Day is the return to primarily using the raspier vocal style from Tapping the Vein and In the Sign of Evil. What was the reason for sticking with this style on this record?
Corny, the producer, is a big Sodom fan since '86. Before we started the pre-production, we had a lot of discussions about how we could keep the spirit of the old days. Some of the songs sounded very well with the “Sodomy and Lust” barking. We went away from that screaming like Tom Araya that we used on War and Pieces and Epitome of Torture. These typical 'Angelripper' vocals fit perfect to the new songs.
Writing about war over the decades, how has the increased availability of video content documenting these horrors affected you and your lyrics?
A lot of bad news every day. Especially when you consider how much the world has changed since the latest album. Sectarian killing, cold war, nuclear armament, abolition of democracy in many countries, starvation and all the destructive frenzy… That inspired my lyrical mindset and fits so perfect to our music. That is sad but true. I am not politically active, but this music gives me the chance to enter the stage and to scream it out. That is like a therapy for me.
Were there any specific events recently that inspired songs on Decision Day?’
Yes, I saw the documentary Blood Lions. Terrible. There are some hunters out there paying thousands of dollars to kill a male lion. These lions are [penned], so there is no danger for the hunter to shoot them. I am hunting too, but I select some of the deer and boars in my hunting district to keep the control about the population. Also like the meat, but I would never pay so much money just for a huge trophy. This killing business is horrible.
After the terror attack in Paris I started writing “Vaginal Born Evil”. Is it the evil inside every man that motivated him to shoot so many innocent people?
Despite writing about war so often, Sodom have strayed from writing songs specifically about historic figures, at least directly by name. This changed with the song “Caligula.” The chorus was a pleasant surprise and a nice, fresh element, too! How did this song come together?
“Caligula” or “Decision Day” reflects my interest in historical events. But the war is still around us and will always be the main part of my lyrics. I like this song very much. Also the movie from '79 was a big inspiration. It`s about the most notorious and relentless tyrant who ever ruled the imperium. One of his famous quotes reads as follows: “Let them hate me, so long as they fear me”.
There’s a lot going on in the album cover, the first Joe Petagno has created for Sodom. There’s a crown of thorns, a half-decayed face, an assault rifle, a snake, and, of course, the American and Russian flags bookending the artwork. Can you explain the direction behind this? (Artwork seen below)
I am so proud that he did the job. He is a great artist and a pioneer of rock and metal covers. When I got in contact with him I was so surprised that he knows the band since beginning and was a follower of our career. He also wrote down some words about his artwork, which is very interesting: After having spoken with Tom about the current state of world affairs I wanted to visualize the history of man from the dawn of creation to the mess we have today.
This cover art is a picture of the archetype of the apocalypse which is hidden in us all.
The eruption of unconscious material happens from two directions simultaneously from
above and from below. I used Knarrenheinz as a symbol for the countless numbers who have soldiered on through the centuries in one guise or another just to get us here anno 2016 where we seem to be on the brink of another possible eruption. Knarrenheinz’s head is exploding due to his inability to hold these unconscious contents hidden or suppressed any longer. He’s in the throws of a dissociation of the upper and lower realms of the psyche much like the world today.
Pictorially this is a nuclear explosion which turns into a goats head with horns (hidden but there) forming a symbol of the lower realms erupting. The barbed wire crown a symbol for oppression and incarceration that was keeping his head / psyche from erupting is now a crown of thorns. The snake skeleton on the left is symbolic for the U.S.A. whose bones spiraling downwards morph into human DNA and form the North American continent. The bear skull on the right is symbolic for Russia and the European continent with the Middle East leads down to the falling victims of war and mass destruction.
The cave painting at the bottom left is the Neander Valley and our humble ancestral beginnings as well as our first encounters with warring against one another. The valley of death is depicted on the right side. Historically the painting reads from the bottom up or from the quagmire to the present, if we aren’t careful it could also read from the top to bottom. That having been said; all is not lost, there is hope seen in the crosshairs of the sight pointed at Knarrenheinz’s heart. This circular shape can also be a mandala / quaternity symbol for wholeness — if we can kill off the lower instincts it’s possible achieve transformation and a new world or aeon.
You’ve never really outright attacked religion before, but you have attacked religious fanaticism. What message are you trying to send on “Who Is God?”
There is no god! So I am shocked that people killed each other cause of their religious orientation. Paris was one of these terrible attacks. So many were killed in a place packed with innocent people who just want to have a good time by watching a rock concert. These things running out of control. Religion causes most of the conflicts in the world, but it seems that's just the beginning…
Is there any chance we’ll see a Sodom U.S. tour either as a headliner or a support slot? We’re dying for some Persecution Mania over here!
We hope to find a serious promoter to help us over. We had a lot of chances for a tour or just some single dates, but we were always f--ked up by some locals and stupid entry requirements. It's like a curse, but it's always so sad for the fans when a band is announced and get canceled in cause of faults, that others are responsible for. It’s a shame, but the day will come to return. Thanks for your loyal support, hope to see you soon…
Thanks to Tom Angelripper for the interview. Pick up your copy of Sodom's 'Decision Day' through Amazon or digitally through iTunes. Keep up on all of the band's activities by following the Sodom Facebook page.
Joe Petagno With Full Decision Day Artwork
Sodom, Decision Day Album Cover
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