Originally written by Erik Thomas
Considering death metal’s general empathy for all things violent, bloody and brutal, I’m surprised there are not more death metal albums about WWI – indisputably the most violent, bloody and brutal conflict in recorded history. Well, Dutch veterans God Dethroned have decided to give it a go, but at least narrow the scope down to a single battle of WWI, Paschendale, a four month operation that resulted in almost 600,000 military deaths on both sides.
While I’ve always considered God Dethroned one of death metal’s most consistent acts, they have yet to match 1997’s classic The Grand Grimoire as far as the prefect mix of death metal and melody, though to their credit, the last two efforts (2004’s Lair of the White Worm and 2006’s The Toxic Touch) have all gradually improved from the rather forgetful trio of Bloody Blasphemy, Ravenous and 2003’s Into the Lungs Of Hell (just my opinion mind you). And thus, Passiondale sees that improvement continue, bolstered by the somber themes of the album’s concept.
The formula is still in place, despite yet another line up change in the drum and guitar dept; melodic death metal with equal parts venom and melody mixed perfectly to present material that never veers into Gothenburg schlock, but still delivers supine solos and well crafted songs amid blasts beats and harsh rasps. Passiondale shows that Henri Sattler is still on top of his came with some truly memorable and catchy, yet seething moments as heard on the likes of “Behind Enemy Lines,” “Under A Darkening Sky,” “No Mans Land,” “Drowning In Mud” and the somber, Hail of Bullets –ish rumble of the title track. The end result is the best album since The Grand Grimoire(though I’ve been saying that since Lair of the White Worm).
With God Dethroned there is no filler. The albums are all direct and to the point and all hover around the golden 40 minute mark, neither drawing out too long or going too quickly and each of the songs is generally chock full of killer riffs and searing, harmonic leads. Add to the mix some very well placed synths and well done, melancholy clean vocals by Marco van de Velde of fellow Dutch act The Wounded on standout “Poison Fog” and “No Survivors” and you get what is truly a complete and enjoyable album further adding to God Dethroned’s deserved legacy.