Stormtroopers of Death, known as S.O.D., was an American crossover thrash band formed in New York in 1985. They are credited as being among the first bands to fuse hardcore punk with thrash metal into a style sometimes referred to as crossover thrash.
Speaking to Mammoth Metal TV, Ian stated about his time with S.O.D.: “I’ve only really fond memories of anything I’ve done with S.O.D. That being said, I just felt like we did too much. For me, it’s something that was always something very, very near and dear to my heart, something that I’ve always carried very close to the vest, as they say.’
He continued: “We made ‘Speak English Or Die’, and that record, it’s a fucking anomaly. We weren’t trying to do anything when we made that record. We wrote a bunch of fucking ridiculous songs that made us laugh. The whole twenty-two minutes, or whatever it is, is just a big inside joke. And it worked; it fucking worked. And people… Well, not everybody, ’cause some people hated it. Some people thought we were racist, and those people are stupid. But a lot of people got the joke all over the planet and laughed along with us, and it was fucking awesome.”
Ian added: “The sad thing is that in the ’80s, we never had a chance to exploit it, and I don’t say ‘exploit it’ in a negative way. When I say ‘exploit it,’ I mean, we never got a chance to tour in the ’80s with S.O.D., because ANTHRAX got so busy. And Danny [Lilker, bass] was busy with NUCLEAR ASSAULT and then Billy [Milano, vocals] got busy with M.O.D. and we never gave it a chance, because we couldn’t. It’s not like we were trying to; there was just no way that was gonna happen in the ’80s. And getting to go out on tour, certainly, in ’99 and 2000, with S.O.D., was something that I was very happy to do, because it gave people at least one shot — people who never got to see it — at least it gave some people around the planet a chance. ‘Okay, here’s your chance. We’re comin’. Here’s your chance to see it.’ And I was happy we did that. It’s when we kind of came around in the States for a second run through, then it became a fucking… That’s when it actually became like a job. All of a sudden, it was, like, ‘Wait a minute! I already have a band with fucking baggage and issues and business problems, and now I’ve got two.’ And I couldn’t handle that; I couldn’t handle having two bands struggling at that time.
“So, yeah, it was when we went back through the States on a second U.S. leg, and all of a sudden, instead of sold-out clubs, we had half-filled clubs. It was just kind of, like, ‘This is exactly what S.O.D. isn’t supposed to be. It’s only supposed to be fun. It’s not supposed to be, ‘Oh, we’re in fucking Bumfuck-wherever on a Tuesday night. This is not fun.’ And that’s my personal feelings about it — that I just felt like we should have just kept it a little bit more special. But, you know, still, getting to play S.O.D. shows, for me, when it was on, it was fucking awesome. It was great.”
After finishing his guitar tracks on the ANTHRAX album “Spreading The Disease”, Scott Ian would draw pictures of the face of a character known as “Sargent D.” The pictures would be accompanied by slogans such as “I’m not racist; I hate everyone” and “Speak English Or Die,” and Ian would write lyrics about this character. He decided to form a hardcore band based on Sargent D, so he recruited ANTHRAX drummer Charlie Benante, ex-ANTHRAX bassist Dan Lilker, and PSYCHOS bassist Billy Milano on vocals.
The 30th-anniversary edition of STROMTROOPERS OF DEATH’s classic debut album, “Speak English Or Die”, was made available on November 27 via Megaforce. The set includes the original album as well as the demo recordings from the pre-STROMTROOPERS OF DEATH project CRAB SOCIETY NORTH.