VERSUS: Agent Orange vs. Beneath The Remains
Welcome to another edition of Versus, the series where we look at two albums in metal history, and compare them to each other and see which one was the better record.
On this edition of Versus, we are getting thrashed, only this time, we are going international. Two bands, one from Germany and one from Brazil, who have thrash classics that are over thirty years old and put themselves and their country on the thrash metal map. Let's get this battle going, with what I'm calling "The International Thrash Bash".
In this corner, we have Germany's Sodom, with their third album, 1989's Agent Orange. Considered the band's commercial break through, Agent Orange is a classic thrash record and showing internationally that thrash was not just U.S. only with bands like Kreator, Coroner, and another band we will talk about later in this article. The follow up to 1987's Persecution Mania, Sodom left their mark on thrash metal with this release and let's see what makes it a contender in this fight.
Opening with the album's title track, starting with a great opening riff by Frank Blackfire, the drums have a nice reverb and punch in the mix. Chris Witchhunter's drumming is so frenetic and fast, adding to the driving guitars. With Tom Angelripper's vocals and bass adding the trademark thrash snarl in the delivery, Sodom brings ferocity and aggression with this album opener. Even picking up the pace even faster with lightning fast double bass at the three quarters mark of the track.
One standout track is "Tired and Red". the driving double bass in the intro adds to the frenzy and the pedal to the metal feel of the song. It's just endless speed and thrash metal tenacity. We get a nice acoustic interlude at the halfway mark to give the listener and their neck a short break from headbanging, before we slam on the gas and continue the thrash fury. With a nice guitar solo performed by Blackfire, the song ends with such ferocity and definitely a Sodom classic.
Songs like "Remember The Fallen" and "Magic Dragon" bring a nice mid-tempo opening riff to the album with "Remember The Fallen" almost leaning more towards a traditional heavy metal song, with a sound similar to Peace Sells era Megadeth. "Exhibition Bout" is another song that starts with booming drums into fast-paced guitars and snarl vocals by Angelripper. The album has another standout in "Ausgebombt" which has a great driving bass and double kicks accenting the bass, almost giving the song a Motörhead feel to the song and ends with another great solo. The album closes with a cover of the Tank song "Don't Walk Away" in another heavy metal, with another Motörhead feel to the track.
Their opponents, Brazil's Sepultura, with their third album, 1989's Beneath The Remains. Following the previous releases, 1986's Morbid Visions and 1987's Schizophrenia, Sepultura refined their sound, and moved away from the death metal and Celtic Frost influence of their first two records, and went for a full on thrash sound on this release, a sound they would continue on the follow up with Arise. With a bigger budget & production, and now being on Roadracer Records (who would later change their name to Roadrunner Records), the band wrote what some consider one of the top albums in the thrash metal genre.
The album opens with the title track, a nice acoustic introduction with in and out fading effects, then BAM! we are thrashing. The guitars of Max Cavalera and Andreas Kisser just hit hard in the mix with Igor Cavalera's driving drums punctuating the fury and speed of the guitar playing. Max's barking/shouting vocals add to the fury and anger in this opener. Kisser plays a short but nice guitar solo before the band even picks up the tempo even more as this five minute thrash track almost just flies by.
Followed up by a chuggier and slower riff in "Inner Self", Igor's drums & double bass still make it thrashy as hell even if the guitar isn't playing that fast. Max's vocals are more in a singing style with his accent and add a gravelly tone to his voice. Drums and guitars turn back into that thrash tempo when the drums pick up and another short solo by Kisser. "Stronger Than Hate" opens with another heavy driving thrash guitar and drums. Kisser's leads shine in the background and add tension to the playing until the vocals kick in and return to that classic down-picking guitar playing thrash is known for. Igor's drumming is another standout on the track especially right before the chorus kicks in with his insanely fast double bass.
Another standout track is "Mass Hypnosis". With its pummeling drums and intricate opening riff, it just makes you wanna bang your head the minute the riff kicks in. So much energy and the song has such great energy. Guitars are fast paced with Igor's intricate start/stop playing after the chorus. Max's vocals are gritty and guttural, standing out in the production. I love the breakdown halfway through the song, leading into an almost clean guitar section drenched in reverb while the drums drive and keep the beat fast paced. Kisser's solo is nice, not too over the top and fits the beat perfectly. One hell of a track and must be insane to see live and be in the pit during. Songs like "Sarcastic Existence" and "Lobotomy" also continue the brash and aggressive feel they deliver that cements them as one of the greats in thrash metal all the way to the album's closer "Primitive Future"
So after we've returned home from this international journey, who had the better record? This one goes to Sepultura and Beneath The Remains. This record is relentless in its speed, intensity, pure aggression and overall energy to the record. I tried to compare which album I would hit replay again on after completing and Remains had that. Sodom's album did have some great songs on it, but i felt there were one or two songs I would/could skip over, while Remains didn't have any of that. Sodom does have some amazing thrash records, I loved their 2020 album Genesis XIX and the band is still going strong to this day. Both bands delivered thrash metal classics, and both releases you need to check out if you haven't
Do you agree with my decision? Who do you think should have won this battle? Leave your comments in the comments section below and your suggestions who you think should step in the ring next. I’m Justin, your friendly neighborhood metalhead, for This Day in Metal and this has been Versus.