S.O.D. - Speak English or Die
Megaforce Records
Crossover Thrash
21 songs (28:38)
Release year: 1985
Megaforce Records
Reviewed by Tony
Archive review

One of my very first Thrash cd's was Speak English or Die by Crossover legends S.O.D. The title of this album and the lyrics included in this album have oft been labeled controversial. Billy Milano's lyrics often preach intolerance, violence, and other rude sentiments. I always blast this cd when I drive through Miami for kicks and giggles, it has become somewhat of an anthem for my friends who have trouble ordering a cheeseburger in South Beach without their Spanish dictionaries. Laughs and hijinks aside, lyrics set apart, with Speak English or Die, Billy Milano, Scott Ian, Dan Lilker, and Charlie Benante serve up a steaming order of boisterous Crossover Thrash with a no holds barred in your face attitude that had politicians heaving rocks at them on day 1.

I was originally going to review some Black Metal (which is somewhat of my specialty) but I'm on a 767 somewhere over the Rockies leaving San Francisco for Miami, so the din of the engines drown out any sound quality that the guitars would present. I searched my MP3 player for something I know hasn't been reviewed and I settled on Speak English or Die. This album absolutely needed to be reviewed. It is a trailblazing, hyper fast, witty album played by four hooligans who wanted nothing more than to inject some searing pace into their hybrid of Thrash and Punk while drinking frequently and pissing people off. S.O.D. (which stands for Stormtroopers of Death) to me are four guys that know what Thrash Metal is about and embody the attitude and excitement that come with a lifestyle of open string runs, power chords, and flying solos. When I think of Thrash (which is usually my music of choice when jamming with a drummer, as it's easiest to improvise riffs and shred the listeners heads off with a pointless but awesome solo) I think of a beer pounding, fast and hard, in your face disposition. As the Punk rocknroll terrorist GG Allin once said: "Live fast, die fast." To me, S.O.D. really have the fun loving hilarity infused in their head banging clamor that make them a Thrash staple and a necessity to document in the storied histories of both Punk Rock and Thrash Metal.

The album starts off with a 2 part song beginning with a short instrumental with just some simple power chord arrangements thrown forth in a menacing manner. The way Scott Ian puts the chords together somehow makes me think of something heavy and dark approaching. March of the S.O.D. quickly gives way to a short bass riff by the underrated Dan Lilker (who I swear looks like an Ent from the Lord of the Rings movies) before the guitars and everything else enter the picture in a really heavy and headbang worthy track entitled Sargent "D" and the S.O.D. Sargent D is somewhat of S.O.D.'s version of Eddie or Vic Rattlehead This song involves some cool little riffs, some nice gang vocals, and some savvy drumming and funny yet violent lyrics about the brutal things that Sargent D would do to one of us if he got his hands on us.

Next up is probably the most mentally satisfying song I've ever listened to. While I wasn't around for the dark ages of metal while the PMRC was on a witch hunt, Kill Yourself is simply a song directed at the tyrant Tipper Gore and her pursuit of Metal and her campaign to destroy it. Why politicians attack art relentlessly is beyond me. After all, isn't art the ultimate and freest form of expression? There are paintings at the Louvre of biblical warfare that probably make a Cannibal Corpse album cover look like the cover of a Dr. Seuss book. Milano Mosh is somewhat of a forgettable song, but soon after is the title track. The song is scarily relevant and it feels like it should have been made today and not in the 80s. The song is a somewhat prejudiced look at illegal immigration. While I don't appreciate the lyrics necessarily, they echo the sentiments of many Americans, and certainly seem more controversial today than they were 25 years ago.

There are many awesome songs on this album, but next up is probably my favorite track, and the only one on the album that features a solo by Anthrax rhythm guitarist Scott Ian. That song is basically the national anthem of the Crossover nation, it is entitled United Forces. Believe it or not, Scott Ian has it in him, proving that even rhythm guitarists (some) can answer the call in the absence of a lead man. The coolest part of the song is the fastest part of the song, which leads up to the well constructed solo. The solo is mixed in a Slayer type way, dialing in the illusion that there are two guitarists taking turns shredding.

Following songs like Pi Alpha Nu and Chromatic Death the former probably being some sort of ode to Billy Milano's college days, a few very short (under 10 seconds or so) songs follow in on the album. There are still highlights like Freddy Kreuger which is a bloody tribute to the clawed creeper. I happened to be mortally terrified of Freddy as a child, so this song (I bought the regular version in 7th grade) still scared me somewhat as 12 years old isn't exactly a decade from my younger years. Most songs are between 2 to 3 minutes, Freddy Kreuger being no exception, having some lovely riffs and again showing the power of S.O.D.'s gang vocal attack, something that has been somewhat lost over the years. Milk is a track that showcases a further dimension to the skills of Charlie Benante. Much of the song has blast beats laid under Billy Milano howling about how he has no milk to wet his cereal or lighten his coffee. This song is actually probably the most hilarious and relevant song. Many a night I've come home late from a party or my fiancee's house and all I want is milk to dampen my much needed carbohydrates or make instant banana cream pudding while I watch the highlights. When there is none to be found, I feel like screaming much like Milano does all throughout the minute plus of the song.

Next is another funny but kind of gross track highlighting the horrors of dealing with a woman in her menstrual cycle. Pre Menstrual Princess Blues features Milano screeching the verses in his best female impersonation, screaming at "Irving" about the tribulations of both a woman having her period and dealing with said woman. It's a pretty funny song. Pussy Whipped is another track highlighting the troubles of dealing with an overbearing woman. Something in me makes me think that at least mentally, Billy Milano is one of the most inappropriate and irreverent personalities in Metal. He once told a story in an interview about how he was accused of Nazism by a French media person and responded by saying "My grandfather died in the Holocaust, he fell off the guard tower." Snippets like these bring forth the folks who head hunt Milano and his music.

Fist Banging Mania is another top track, another hilarious rant this time about the guys at the front of the stage simply pumping their fists to the beat of the live set. Milano expresses himself openly about his disdain for this crowd. Amongst the controversy in songs with lyrics suggesting suicide to a top politicians wife, insults hurled at immigrants, or ramblings about nightmarish women on their periods he finally crosses the line with the song Fuck the Middle East. I distinctly remember in the weeks following 9/11 much of America grew to hate the Muslims as family and friends ( We lost friends to the attacks) were reduced to rubble. It's almost scary how the most political songs of S.O.D. were more of an obvious allusion to the feelings of many Americans during this millennium than the past. While Milano's beliefs aren't mine, I simply wanted to show how Milano almost predicted the future of the American mindset (or about 50% of Americans). If this album came out in 2001 or a few years after, there would have been a huge outcry and potential congressional attention.

I certainly am not one who listens to music for the message or one who won't listen if there are politics I disagree with. I have frequently stated that while my family fought for years to stop fascism in Europe and the war crimes in Asia, I still will listen to NSBM from time to time, even though its vile teachings are certainly against everything I have ever believed in. What I'm saying is, take the lyrics with a truck full of salt, stretch your neck muscles, and strap yourself in. This is a ballsy, heavy, speedy attack that is sure to whet the appetite of the thrasher in all of us and keep us hooked until the final riff.

Killing Songs :
All except the micro songs.
Tony quoted 90 / 100
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