Bigger than the Devil
Released: 1999, Nuclear Blast Records
Reviewer: Nathan Robinson
So what does S.O.D. mean to you? To me, S.O.D. means HEAVY. Think about it, in 1985 there was nothing as heavy as Speak English or Die. I mean NOTHING! Not Slayer, not Metallica, not Megadeth, not even Death's Scream Bloody Gore could compare. I mean heavy as in weight, mass, and density. Just listen to the opening chords of "The March of the S.O.D.". The production on Speak English or Die captured the energy and intensity of the band. The drums were loud and sharp and the guitars extremely thick, loud, and crunchy, with Scott planted in the midrange and Danny tucked away in the deeper end. And then you had the ferocity of Billy yelling his balls off. S.O.D. was something special, and their first album will always be unique and stand as one of the heaviest albums of all time.
Whether or not S.O.D. should have released a second album is debatable. Sure they were a great band, but after 14 years, with all of the changes in the metal music scene, how could they create something as special as the first album? Or should they even have to live up to their legend? After all, wasn't the whole point of S.O.D. supposed to be fun? Well, as stated earlier, the name "S.O.D." is synonymous with the word "heavy", so upon purchasing the new album, my hopes were rooted in this belief first and foremost.
But as it turns out, my hopes were let down a little. Bigger than the Devil is overproduced. Too much bass and not enough guitar. Scott's guitar sounds tuned down also. Yeah it sounds cool, but it just builds on that warm and cuddly bass sound the album has. Instead, they should've kept the guitar tuned normal, with more distortion added to create that raw midrange sonic destruction that Speak English or Die had.
But enough complaints about the production, how are the songs? Well, you know S.O.D. is one-half Anthrax. And you know Anthrax's songwriting has shifted from thrashy, moshy riffs to more rocky and perhaps hardcore-ish riffs. Well expect a little of that to carry over into the new S.O.D. material. In fact some of the material reminds me of the last two Anthrax albums and even latter day M.O.D. But a good quantity brought me back to the old days of the crossover between thrash and punk…like old D.R.I. and Suicidal Tendencies. A great feeling indeed! And of course a small portion reminded me of the first S.O.D. album. But the album does have its ultra-extreme moments, courtesy of those numerous blast beats. Yes, that's right…but knowing how much everyone loves "Milk" you should have expected that! Lyricwise S.O.D. still piss on various people and trends, conveyed by Billy Milano's unmistakable voice. His vocals pretty much sound like those on the last two M.O.D. albums, but there's some great fast parts where he sings faster than a helicopter blade. Great to hear that style again! And it's also cool to hear some old-style gang vocals plus backups by Scott, which remind me of the old M.O.D. days and Anthrax days.
Highlights on the album include the nice intro to "Evil is In", in which Billy sings his order into the speaker at a Burger King drive through. I am sure this didn't really happen, but it's damn funny! "Evil is In" is a piss on black metal perhaps, and has some killer guitar work by Scott. "Charlie Don't Cheat" is a song about how Charlie doesn't cheat on his drumming, and he totally whips a llama's ass on this one! Blast beats all the way through along with Billy singing way too fast for me to follow along with in the booklet! But then there's "The Song that Don't Go Fast"…pretty much self-explanatory, although not entirely true. Stupid lyrics make this a really stupid song, but of course this is good! "Noise That's What" is maybe what "What's That Noise" was supposed to be on the first album…nice little mosh tune. "Every Tiny Molecule" is about breathing in bathroom odor…yum! And the original version of "Aren't You Hungry" makes an appearance. Although they played this live back in '85 (refer to their home video) it was never released on album. After S.O.D. disbanded Scott stole the music to create Anthrax's "Imitation of Life", while Billy took the lyrics for the version of "Aren't You Hungry?" on M.O.D.'s USA for M.O.D. There's a bunch of short songs on Bigger than the Devil too, keeping in line with the first album. And of course there's a couple of ballads too! But the best song on the album is "Celtic Frosted Flakes", where the band ponders the disappearance of Celtic Frost. Extremely stupid lyrics and sung rather half-assed, I can't help but laugh every time I listen to this song! Classic!
As you can see there are lots of highlights, making this album a worthwhile addition to your collection. And it's a fun CD! Not too many bands out there are making fun music anymore. Last thoughts: where are the lyrics to Xerox? Will someone at Kinko's be offended if those lyrics are printed? Also, great booklet layout! Lots of artwork and photos make up the lyric sheet, while an old-style photo collage dominates the reverse side. Aside from my disappointment with the production, this album rocks!