War is hell, and the concept of it scares Sodom’s Tom Angelripper to death. To deal with his dread, he paints some of the most horrifying scenes of bloody carnage imaginable in the gory, death-obsessed lyrics smeared all over the bombed-out walls of Sodom’s catalog. His fears haven’t abated in recent years; neither has his seething anger.

There’s a bonus track on the limited-edition digipak version of the German thrash-metal juggernaut’s newest LP, Epitome of Torture, called “Waterboarding,” where Angelripper winces at just how far sadistic interrogators are willing to go behind closed doors. And then there’s the blistering “Katjuschka,” which finds Angelripper shaking his head in disgust over a Russian rocket launcher – responsible for death and destruction on a massive scale – that has the same name as a folk song by Mikhail Isakovsky about a young girl. Nobody’s laughing at the irony, especially not Angelripper, whose descriptive lyrics are as intellectually sharp as the point of a spear on Epitome of Torture.

Fortunately for him, Angelripper has a vehicle for expressing his outrage, and that’s Sodom, whose latest album – quite possibly one of the hardest-hitting and most rugged of their career – simply spits nails and inhales mustard gas like it was French perfume. “S.O.D.O.M.” and “Stigmatized” are particularly brutal and ferocious sermons of apocalyptic devastation and intensity, with new drummer Markus “Makka” Freiwald setting a frantic pace and throwing down a frenzied gauntlet of double-kick drum fury. And the title track jumps right into the fray, throwing brass-knuckled riff haymakers left and right – as guitarist Bernemann does throughout Epitome of Torture – and repeatedly thrusting its sharp bayonets into the song’s sinewy flesh. Perhaps inspired by Freiwald’s manic drumming, an energized Bernemann unleashes some of the most potent and rabid riffage of his career. And his solos are just as explosive.

Never taking a breather, although “My Final Bullet” and “Cannibal” have their melodic parts, Epitome of Torture is a wildfire that consumes everything in its path. The speed of “Shoot Today, Kill Tomorrow” is blinding, while “Invokating the Demons” flies around in dizzying fashion. And although Epitome of Torture often feels like it is constantly going 120 miles per hour, without ever slowing down, there are dynamic shifts in tempo and moments of crushing heaviness in tracks like “Into the Skies of War” and the closer “Tracing the Victim,” with its gripping, almost seductive hooks closing their fingers around your throat.

Mad as hell on Epitome of Torture, Angelripper is not going to take it anymore. His guttural growls and in-your-face rages demand your undivided attention as he regales you with tales of human depravity and callous disregard for the sanctity of life. It’s tough, hard-nosed and graphic, just like the over-the-top violence depicted on the Epitome of Torture cover, sort of a tamer, but more politicized, version of Cannibal Corpse artwork. Sodom will not be silenced, and with records like this, Angelripper’s roaring voice should be heard.

Label: Steamhammer/SPV (the album on vinyl format can be purchased here)