Speak English Or Die

Stormtroopers Of Death

Megaforce / Caroline Records, 1985


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Stormtroopers Of Death -- better known as S.O.D. -- were meant to be nothing more than a joke. What was born as a side project written and recorded while Anthrax was working on their second album Spreading The Disease has become a legendary album in the metal circle. If you didn't own Speak English Or Die, you weren't one of the "in" crowd.

And yet there are probably still people who get their undies in a twist when they hear songs off this album such as "Speak English Or Die," "Kill Yourself" and "Fuck The Middle East". The simple rule of thumb is this: if you're getting pissed off, you don't know the inside joke. If you're trying to slam your head in time with Charlie Benante's hummingbird-on-caffiene drum work, you don't need any further explanation.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The brainchild of Benante, Anthrax bandmate Scott Ian (guitar), singer Billy Milano and bassist Dan Lilker, S.O.D. is a joke featuring songs written from the perspective of the album's main character, "Sargent D," a character who is kind of like G.I. Joe, only with an attitude. It is brutal, powerful thrash music that dares to challenge anyone who listens to it - even 15 years after its release. In short, it's a classic.

I might as well get the one drawback out of the way early on - well, besides the fact that the album is too short. Sometimes, you can tell that this album was recorded in a hurry, as the overall sound of a few songs seems to be a bit muddied (and this isn't the fault of producer Alex Perialas). Listen to Ian's guitar work in the bridges of "Sargent D And The S.O.D." on Speak English Or Die, then compare it to the way he played on Live At Budokan. Granted, we're talking seven years that Ian had a chance to improve his style of playing, but it just doesn't sound as tight in the studio as it could have.

Nitpicking out of the way, Speak English Or Die is the kind of album you'll want to blare on the stereo as long as no one else is home. Songs like "Chromatic Death" and "Milk" have taken on new lives of their own over the years, but at least in the case of "Milk," nothing beats the original. (Sorry, but I kinda like the stylistic changes Anthrax did to "Chromatic Death" when they covered it on Attack Of The Killer B's.)

And frankly speaking, this album is a lot of fun to listen to. From the band driving Milano crazy on the track "What's That Noise?" (a track my college buddy Mark used to love to quote from) to the all-out thrash attack of tracks like "Fist Banging Mania," "Pi Alpha Nu" and "Freddy Krueger" - and even down to the short bursts of songs like "Anti-Procrastination Song," "Hey Gordy!" and "The Ballad Of Jimi Hendrix" - Speak English Or Die is an album you'll want to listen to over and over.

Is it politically correct? No, but who cares? Is this a must-own for anyone who appreciates the metal scene? In the words of some of my buddies, "Yeeeeaaaahhhh!!!"

Rating: A-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2000 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Megaforce / Caroline Records, and is used for informational purposes only.