Sodom has been a powerful name in the Metal world since their debut album Obsessed by Cruelty dropped in 1986. Originally formed in 1981, the German act started out a Black Metal and Speed Metal effort, eventually changing gears to the aggressive Thrash Metal powerhouse we've come to know today. However, loyal enough fans could pick up on changes to the band's recent output when compared to releases in that vein like Code Red and 2006's pinnacle outingSodom. It's clear there has been interest in reverting back to the Black/Speed Metal ways of the group's youth, and with the 2014 (2015 for North America) EP Sacred Warpath, a deceleration to a world going to hell has been made. Acting as a teaser for what Tom Angelripper claims is "going to get raw, brutal and will be a reflection of all the things that we’re afraid of and that give us nightmares", does this new song and accompanying three live tracks do their job at bracing you for what's to come, or is it just a reflective piece worth nothing more to a fan than a collector's price tag?

Sacred Warpath is, in essence, an expanded single. The goal of this recording is to use a song originally composed for the band's impending next full-length album to make fans aware of the journey back to their roots, while including some live tracks to give you a rough idea of what else to expect. "Sacred Warpath" re-introduces you to the group's Black Metal side, blending the established Thrash Metal elements with it from time to time such as the introduction and a little in the chorus. The overall song, however, has more the prior than the latter, utilizing a rough analog quality that tries to capture the essence of the In the Sign of Evil EP, even Obsessed by Cruelty, but without that Speed Metal presence. It's an abrasive piece that has its share of colder passages and raspy vocals mixed into the shouting, and ends up a pretty good performance overall, but nothing too spectacular.

The live songs, however, are worth hearing for the one thing you never thought you'd hear in your lifetime: Sodom playing "Surfin' Bird". "The Saw is The Law (Live)" starts with the band performing a Thrash Metal version of that very song (something fans of Onkel Tom Angelripper will be familiar with) before heading into the original composition, which actually has a crisp audio quality compared to the freshly recorded counterpart. This isn't necessarily a bad thing though, as this track sounds as great on stage as it does from the studio. There's also "City of God (Live)", which continues with that modern Sodom sound, making you start to wonder how much of this is going to sound like a throwback if these are meant to represent the "raw" and "brutal" side of things to come. But then there's "Stigmatized (Live)", which builds up the blackened side of the group once more. Those unfamiliar with the track, it's much like early Sepultura with harshened vocals and what comes off as the most natural and enthusiastic cut of the three next to the "Surfin' Bird" introduction.

If you're a devoted Sodom fan, there's no denying Sacred Warpath will intrigue you. The problem is that the claims from Tom about how this EP will reflect the album have yet to be witnessed, so right now this four song collection is all up for interpretation. But, as a standalone release taken at face value, Sacred Warpath offers an interesting change of pace that will make you want to break out the early recordings, or at the very least the recent The Final Sign of Evil. While it grows on you, it is the live material that really steals the show, throwing three Sodom classics your way that prove their staying power outside the studio. Sacred Warpath is definitely a judgement call, but, like Tom has pointed out in the accompanying press release, this is "guaranteed to become a rare collectors’ item", which it can come across as.

Review originally composed for Apoch's Metal Review.