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Probably never getting the credit they have deserved, we have here the Dutch blackened death metallers God Dethroned on release cycle no. 8 for "Passiondale". I hope I don't have to explain to you just what Passiondale is, so I'm not going to, but as a concept album I find it a rather inspired choice. We know many extreme metal bands who fixate on war/battle in a more general sense but this is the first instance I can remember where a whole album has been dedicated to one battle and being the fiend I am for all things World War II, this is easily close enough to that area to have my interest from the start.
The fact that I have also borne witness to three of their past albums and two excellent live sets supporting Bolt Thrower three years ago was enough to peak my interest in this new album and I am instantly rewarded with the first track proper, "Under A Darkening Sky". General consensus on the internet is that "Passiondale" represents the band's finest work to date and with the likes of "Under..." and the brutally catchy "Poison Fog" in the first half it's hard to argue with this theory as God Dethroned thunder along with the blast and barbarism of Belphegor and the melodic inclinations of more recent Amon Amarth. The title track is most akin to Amon Amarth in it's chorus of "No escape from Passiondale!" where Henri Sattler comes across like Johan Hegg himself and the revolving riffs ring of the massive ones found large on the works of the aforementioned Swedes. Most of the songs follow such a pattern, not varying from the band's template dramatically but it is always entertaining, in part through the clean chunky production and the good songwriting on show. Worthy of mention is the use of clean vocals in "Poison Fog" and "No Survivors" which incredibly do not sound like a homosexual broke into the studio as is usually the case but provide an interesting counter-punch to the snarl of Sattler, notably in "No Survivors" where the lyrical topic is seen to be dealt greater respect and authority in this moment of clean singing.
Similar artists that come to mind in repeated listens of "Passiondale" include Amon Amarth, Kataklysm, Bolt Thrower, Belphegor and Kreator, and like the first three of those God Dethroned maintain a solid, steady line of progress where one knows what they'll get from album to album, minus a few tweaks and changes. It is this consistency that will hopefully get the band's name more recognised if they can give it some decent support on the road, because "Passiondale" is very much an album to appeal to those who count themselves fans of the sound of recent, real death metal. It possesses a fine balance of extremity, technicality and melody that should catch the ear of anyone out for some good solid extreme metal.
Originally written for Rockfreaks.net