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I had my introduction to God Dethroned with their previous album The Toxic Touch a little while back; it was decent but it just didn't seem to catch me very much for whatever reason, I don't really remember much other than not finishing the album and deleting it afterward. I had heard much praise towards this new 2009 effort, Passiondale. Much acclaim and effort came towards it's release and at first I didn't seem to care too much, but the massive amounts of positive feedback I got from friends and online press mixed with the cool concept of the World War theme and lyrics tipped the scales.
The opening track is a strange little track, The Cross of Sacrifice with whispered voices over an atmospheric like instrumental track, opening way for an unbelievable assault upon your senses. Right from the get go, you are bombarded with bullets and artillery, riffs and blast beats, everywhere. Under a Darkening Sky is a ridiculously catchy and killer opener, at this point I'm thinking, "Holy fuck where did this come from, is this the same band I previously heard!?". I continued to headbang and scream along to the catchy riffs and chorus of the opener. Following along the similar formula throughout Passiondale, God Dethroned employs an effective and powerful combination of short and to the point songwriting mixed with catchy riffs, hooks and vocals. Songs like No Man's Land, Poison Fog, the title track and No Survivors all are examples of how perfect the songwriting is on this album.
The Dutchmen also use a strong sense of melancholic atmosphere and dreariness with the addition of clean choir-like vocals, which surprised me. I had not been exposed to their earlier stuff, albums that apparently are masterpieces like Lair of the White Worm and Christhunt. The clean vocals, most prominent on Poison Fog and No Survivors are absolutely epic; in every sense of the word. Highly reminiscent of ICS Vortex from Dimmu Borgir fame, or even the choir-like approach found in Anaal Nathrakh. I don't know if Henri Sattler does both vocals, but whoever does is highly talented and deserves to be awarded some sort of fucking award. Sattler's harsh vocals are vicious and to be noted as well, more of a death metal growl that packs a definite punch. Mixed with excellent guitar work, combining a rhythm and lead section that often times reminds me of Vader and Malevolent Creation, God Dethroned certainly have found a winning combination. Pummeling riffs off of No Man's Land are pure and true death metal, as well as the typical Vader-like death metal solos; short, hyper fast and shredding, somewhat Slayer-like in nature.
Metal-Archives shows God Dethroned's genre to be "blackened death metal", which is mostly accurate. I haven't heard their previous work really, which is apparently more in that direction, but the music found here on Passiondale, is probably more straight up death metal with heaps of melody. The blackened influence is probably more prominent on the newer Behemoth albums than it is here. The epic war like theme is very apparent as well, with the lyrics and choruses chanting of battles and death, with Poison Fog being a pure anthem to the death of the war. Sattler's ominous growling over top the pounding drums on the title track gives off a very prominent war theme and vibe which is really cool and scattered throughout the rest of the album as well.
God Dethroned's eight full length album has finally made it's impact, I really am kicking myself for the hindrance a previous listen has given me; I am going to immediately check out their previous material, although I can't get my hopes up too high as this has certainly raised the fucking bar on their material. Passiondale is a killer album, with loads of catchy hooks and riffs as well as vocals, something I don't often find in death metal anymore. This is exactly what I'm looking for in death metal, a very composed and intelligent approach on war themed death metal. If you haven't heard this and really like Vader's newest works, Malevolent Creation or just killer death metal in general, you definitely need to check this out. I've been absolutely blown away and proved wrong by these Dutchmen. God Dethroned has struck gold in my eyes with this formula and approach and they are rising up to a legendary status if they haven't already.