Rise Of The Infidels
posted on 9/2007 By:
Not so hot on the heels of 1999's Bigger than the Devil comes Rise of the Infidels, the improbable new release from S.O.D., made up of a pair of newer unreleased tracks, two covers, and live stuff from a show during the tour for Bigger than the Devil. Given the public feud (public mostly on Billy Milano’s side, that is) between Milano and Scott Ian and Charlie Benante, it comes as a bit of a surprise to see another S.O.D. project, but I guess cash has a way of smoothing things over. Milano seems the likely Sgt. D tomb raider here, as he did the liner notes and seems to cling the most ardently to the S.O.D. legacy. M.O.D. has a new album coming up in the not too distant future, as well. Coincidence?
The seminal Speak English or Die was one of my first underground metal albums back in the mid-80's, and I’ve always had a soft spot for the band, so I was glad to get my hands on this release. Still, even from a fan’s perspective, this is a bit of a lackluster offering. The “unreleased” material (non-album tracks that have been available on other releases) leans heavily toward the hardcore side. The band delivers solid and capable covers of Agnostic Front (“United and Strong”) and Negative Approach (“Ready to Fight”), and the original tracks--“Stand Up and Fight” (formerly called “Pathmark Song”) and the one-minute “Java Amigo” are similar-minded, although the latter packs a bit more crunch, as well as the familiar Milano ornery jackassery that you’d expect. They’re decent enough songs, but fairly nondescript and they pale next to the majority of the Bigger than the Devil material.
Most of the fifty-five minute “EP” (read: full-length at a reduced price) is made up of a 1999 show from The Fenix in Seattle. Milano brags in the liner notes about the boldness of opening the show with “Ballad of Nirvana”–you guessed it, the intro to “Smells Like Teen Spirit” before the old punchline is delivered. Why he finds such an old joke, used five years after Cobain’s suicide on a Seattle crowd that’s unlikely to care much about Cobain anyway, to be such a defiant and edgy statement is a mystery, but that’s Milano for you (he also rants about Starbucks in his commentary on BOTH original songs). And the ballads don’t stop there, you also get odes to Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, INXS, Frank Sinatra, Nirvana (yep, again), and Freddy Mercury. Yet there’s no room for any Bigger than the Devil tracks.
The sound is closer to bootleg quality than you’d hope, but it’s still pretty listenable. And of course, the old favorites–tracks like “Speak English or Die”(complete with the now-expected “Raining Blood” teaser) “Sgt D and the S.O.D.,” “Milk,” and “Milano Mosh”--slay just like they did back in ‘85. With only two studio albums to their name, the two live albums (there’s also a handful of quality live tracks on the Platinum Edition of Speak English or Die) and three home videos give S.O.D. a recycling rate that would make Iron Maiden blush, and the 1992 Live at Budokan is superior in every way, and speaking of Nirvana, you’ll hear Milano fumble through a cover of “Territorial Pissings” (as well as Ministry’s “Stigmata” and “Thieves”). The good news is that this release should be fairly cheap, so it just might be worth picking this up for one last waltz, or Milano Mosh, as it were, down memory lane. Just don’t expect anything you haven’t already heard the band do better before.
*A note on the scores–since this type of blended release doesn’t fit into our scoring system I just assigned one overall score.
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