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Music / Stormtroopers of Death

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The band in 1985.note 

"You think that you're really hard
You'd better wear armour you fucking fool
We mosh until you die!
We mosh until you fry!
You think that you can try!? But can you!?"
Milano Mosh

Stormtroopers of Death or S.o.D. were a crossover thrashnote  band from New York that formed in 1985 and was sporadically active until splitting for good in early 2002. The band was the side project and brainchild of Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian, who recruited Anthrax drummer Charlie Benante and ex-Anthrax bassist Dan Lilker, as well as local vocalist Billy Milano. It spawned after Scott Ian drew several comics depicting a character he called Sargent Dnote  while out on tour during the winter of 1985. Later, shortly after recording his parts for Anthrax's Spreading the Disease album, he wanted to publish a full comic book featuring Sargent D, but since he didn't know how, he opted instead to write songs about the character. Although still true to his thrash metal background, the riffs he wrote also incorporated influences from local hardcore punk acts such as Agnostic Front, and his the lyrics (mainly written from Sargent D's perspective) took on a similarly tongue-in-cheek punk tone. After calling up some of his friends to play his material with him, the newly formed S.O.D. finished work on their debut album in just under a week.

The band's music is an inhumanly fast and crushingly heavy Epic Riff-driven affair (especially by the standards of the time) straightforwardly designed to mosh to as their punk influence would suggestnote . Their lyrics are infamous for their vulgar tongue-in-cheek humor and being very, very offensive by intention, with the title of their debut album Speak English or Die serving as a prime example. However, Milano's vocals are so incomprehensibly fast they put some rappers to shame, and luckily the most offensive portions of their lyrics are largely unintelligible. The band has also stated that none of their lyricism is intended to be taken seriously and is actually supposed to satirize the petulantly nihilistic attitudes they portray, although some still thought the band to be legitimately racist and sexist at the time.

Despite having only two half-hour studio albums to their name, the band were very influential among many metal and punk circles (they are credited as being one of the pioneers of crossover thrash) and their debut LP is still held up as a masterpiece of thrash metal riffage.

Discography:Studio Albums:

Live Albums:

  • Live At Bukodan (1992)
  • Kill Yourself: The Movie (2000)
  • Speak English or Live (2001)


  • Rise of the Infidels (2007 - although technically classified as a studio EP, it is mostly a compilation of live performances and previously released songs as it was released 5 years after the band's breakup)

SoD provides examples of:

  • Badass Boast: The song "Sargent D and the S.O.D." is a mixture of this and really violent threats. "Once you meet him, there's no time to pray" is a good example of the former.
  • Ballad of X: Quite a few - but never about "people we love or people that we miss", but people that are "fucking dead". See the Never Speak Ill of the Dead entry below.
  • Bigger Than Jesus: Bigger Than the Devil. The title track is about an Apocalypse Cult worshipping Sargent D, warning the Devil (as well as every big religion) that his cult is inferior to Sargent D's.
  • Black Metal: Parodied on Bigger Than The Devil with the latter half of "King at the King/Evil Is In", where Milano periodically screams with an exaggerated traditional black metal rasp.
  • Character Signature Song: "Sargent D and the S.O.D.".
  • Cluster F-Bomb: It would be pretty hard to name an S.O.D. track that doesn't feature this.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Billy was known for his onstage banter - especially whenever the band would play their infamous ballads.
  • Dem Bones: Sargent D is a skeletal and Ax-Crazy Undead military sergeant.
  • Groove Metal: Bigger Than the Devil, having been released at the tail end of The '90s, leaned much more into this style as many other notable thrash bands had with thrash metal's relative unpopularity at the time. Scott Ian's friendship with Pantera probably also played a significant role - the album (especially the title track) sounds like something they would have come up with.
    • The band's thrash sensibilities still persisted on some level though, with tracks like "Skool Bus" and "Evil Is In" harkening back to the blistering speed of the first album.
  • Miniscule Rocking: Almost the pinnacle of this trope. Quite a few of their tracks are only seconds long, and compared to most conventional bands, their more typical songs still last roughly two and a half minutes anyway.
    • Even that's Epic Rocking compared to Anti-procrastination saaaaawwwwng! at 6 seconds, and "Diamonds and Rust (Extended Version)" at slightly over 2 seconds.
    • "The Ballad of Jimi Hendrix" clocks in at 5 seconds and only consists of an off-key "Purple Haze" riff followed by "You're dead".
    • Taken up to eleven with ''Crab Society North'', a 15-minute demo tape with comically subpar audio quality they recorded entirely as a joke in the kitchen of Pyramid Sound Studios with a walkman recorder shoved in front of a PA speaker. The longest track on it isn't even a minute.
  • Motor Mouth: Billy Milano's vocal delivery can get wildly fast. "Pussywhipped" and "Kill Yourself" are prime examples.
  • Never Speak Ill of the Dead: Averted without fear with their ballads. The basic formula would be to take a brief piece of music from a dead musician's work, and then end it abruptly by shouting "you're dead!". Their first studio album has the five second "Ballad of Jimi Hendrix" (with the riff from Purple Haze), and Bigger Than the Devil has "the Ballad of INXS" and "the Ballad of Phil H". but they've also recycled it into:
    • "The Ballad of Kurt Cobain", which Billy Milano proudly boasted to playing in Seattle and pissing off "everyone in Seattle".
    • "The Ballad of Jim Morrison"
    • "The Ballad of Frank Sinatra".
    • "The Ballad of Freddie Mercury"
    • And finally in the Bigger Than the Devil era, they did ballads for literally anyone who had recently died, regardless of whether or not they were musicians - including "The Ballad of The Midget From Kid Rock", "The Ballad of Walter Matthau", "The Ballad of Benjamin Orr", "The Ballad of Euronymous", "The Ballad of Cliff Burton" and "The Ballad of Charles Schultz". The band also jokingly alluding to wanting to play "The Ballad of Princess Di" on a few occasions, but were unable to since "we couldn't fit a car wreck onstage".
      • A subversion occured in "The Ballad of The Scorpions", where Billy simply chanted "they are bald" over the main riff to "Rock You Like a Hurricane".
  • Refuge in Audacity: Can honestly describe the entirety of their lyrics and image, but songs like "Fuck the Middle East", "Speak English or Die", and "Aren't You Hungry"note  are sung from such an absurdly and cartoonishly racist and generally tasteless point of view that they're difficult to take seriously. Unsurprisingly, the band has taken some flack from those who either didn't realize it was supposed to be pure parody or think it's too straightforwardly offensive to serve as such.
  • Sergeant Rock: Sargent D.
  • Shout-Out:
    I'll have a whopper with no pickles,
    An apple Piiiieee, I'll take it to go.
  • Singer Namedrop: The band is named in "Sargent D and the S.O.D.".
    "With his Stormtroopers of Death
    He will come to your town"
  • Something Blues: "Pre-Menstrual Princess Blues" from Speak English or Die.
  • Something Something Leonard Bernstein: Milano's more Motor Mouth moments naturally result in this. Listen to "Pussywhipped" without reading the lyrics, and the most anyone will be able to decipher is "Whatnotyounotineufhacocommittedhieicmorijqmoanjiokrmaokemanokmasuhmitoimiyloveoiyuoijface PUSSYWHIPPED! PUSSYWHIPPED!".
  • Stylistic Suck: Crab Society North is full of this.