Originally released by Hit The Deck, Lands Of Sodom never saw a level of proper distribution. Copies did make it around the world and the band released a couple variants, but many missed out, which is a shame because this is a great EP. A389 recently brought Lands Of Sodom back, making some adjustments along the way. This round, dubbed Land Of Sodom II, unleashes perhaps the most primal Gehenna material in their discography.
As soon as the EP starts, you're thrown into a violent world. The streets are littered with debris; dirt-caked people fight in dilapidated buildings, spilling blood on glass strewn floors. This is the soundtrack to violence. Land Of Sodom II is like the link between Gehenna and Sangraal, the black-metal/thrash band inside the Cult Of The Seven Crowns. The sound is punishing and relentless, attacking the listener with the band's signature malice and hatred.
“Tormentor” doesn't ease you in, it grabs you by the throat. The drums sound savage, leading into Mike Apocalypse's demonic vocals. Like any other Gehenna track, the riffs are well done and commanding. As soon as “Tormentor” finishes, it seamlessly transitions into “Possessed”, another under-two minute thrash attack. I enjoy this version better than the original; there seems to be more layers and the vocals have an interesting echo quality to them. That and the repetition at the end closes things out nicely.
That nice feeling disappears as “Caveman” begins. The same punk / thrash sound is there, but seems like the intensity is raised even more so – if that's even possible. The pace is breakneck and unfortunately over way too quick. I'd love to see more material like “Caveman” from the band.
“Land Of Sodom” closes the release with an instrumental piece. The repetition reminds me of Upon The Gravehill's closer; the pace is still as urgent as the faster tracks but there's a sense of a lurking monster, brooding. As the track moves along, that monster prepares to attack. And just when you think it's going to strike, it recoils back into the shadows, satisfied with your fear. A long track like “Land Of Sodom” could grow boring but there are enough layers to keep the listener so engaged that the time flies by.
For listeners of the first release, you will hear some differences. Nothing major but a little retooling and defining of the sound. Like I mentioned before, the repeating vocals at the end of “Possessed” really works. That and the vocals seemed a little more muted – Hit The Deck's version reminded me of Haymaker's Lost Tribe EP, where the vocals almost drowned out everything else. The overall changes makes Land Of Sodom II a better release and continues to show just how deadly Gehenna is.
A389 still has these in stock so hurry up and snag them. It should also be noted that this EP comes with a poster and a CD copy of Upon The Gravehill, which was a vinyl only release. The Cult Of The Seven Crowns is always active and Land Of Sodom II doesn't disappoint. It does however whet the appetite for more Gehenna so hopefully it won't be too long before we see the new full-length or the rumored splits. But, you can't rush perfection.