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God Dethroned - Passiondale - 80%

ThrashManiacAYD, September 3rd, 2009

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

A Monumental Achievement - 94%

OzzyApu, July 19th, 2009

God Dethroned took no small task in manifesting such a release, but I feel as though they effectively channeled the horrors of war into this album without taming it. Bolt Thrower can be seen as the be all / end all of war-themed death metal, but God Dethroned got the job done in their own way, just as this particular war should be looked at in its own way. While the Battle Of Passchendaele (1917) (the spelling is all jacked up, but “Passchendaele” is the English documented spelling) wasn’t the most costly single battle of the war (that unfortunate distinction goes to the Battle Of The Somme (1916)), it was downright one of the most horrific: men were killed in the most appalling ways, conditions were beyond shocking, hope continued to fade, and the situation looked bleaker than ever. Casualties were staggering on both sides and the battle bogged down into another bloody stalemate. Passiondale is an album that depicts this battle musically from the optimistic start of the offensive, through the nasty standstill, and on to the finishing push.

It’s a lot of history to take in all at once, but the band redefined their existence with this move. Hearing this album makes me respect the history so much more, thus helping me give harmony to a (through pictures and video) silent war. The whole album captures the carnage, chaos, bloodshed, and intense aggression while still holding on to melody and a formidable style. The austerity and poignant emotions flow naturally through each song while not sounding clichéd or overvalued whatsoever. The peak of all these emotions can be heard in the more tuneful sections, such as the outro to “Poison Fog” or the driving melody of the title track. In “Poison Fog,” there’s a timeless climax that occurs in the middle (with the cleans) and with the outro. When this outro occurred, it felt like the whole conflict took a dive in slow motion: the battlefield fixed in a moment of serenity, men catching one last breath as they move forward, gunners praying for forgiveness, and the artillery showing one last moment of mercy. I thought during this pivotal moment, “This scene could use a charging double bass and a solo." So what do you know, God Dethroned delivered just that. Such spirited harmonies lie throughout this album with each song, and I have yet to find a dull moment that doesn’t evoke feelings such as this.

Henri Sattler contributed all the guitar parts and vocals, which is quite a spectacle since he sounds overwhelmingly dominant. He represents the British and German pieces of the battle – much of the music is devoted to his leads, rhythm, and terrifying vocals. His style his a hefty, beastly growl that suits the theme really well, but he also applies clean vocals in rare fashion and only at the proper times. These cleans don’t sound diluted and are key in their respective places, providing a more heartfelt touch to the already grievous tone. Guitars are booming, powerful, extremely varied in craft, and never let up the carnage. There’s a great sense of melody without watering down the mood of the songs, and much of this is present in even the most straightforward ways. The atmosphere of the album is focused, tight, and varied when need be, providing for an all around enjoyable experience on different levels.

Bass I’m surprised to find actually provides more than just backing of the rhythm, since essentially it could have done well just doing that. Nay, I find third grooves to be complimentary to the supporting offensive of this entire album. It acts much in the same way as the Anzacs, who were a loyal and devastating key player against the Germans not only during the battle, but also to the Central Powers during the entire war. The album bows to the might of the bass, which isn’t drowned under the bloodbath but doesn’t steal the show either. Drumming I expected to be grouped with countless other bands, but I’m astounded at the amount of detail in patterns and changing rhythms that Roel Sanders employs. This guy is a maniac, catering to different ways to inflict maximum damage in the field. I find myself becoming engrossed to his playing as he adjusts speeds, dips in double bass, accounts for all blast beat casualties, and makes playing the drums seem more fun than playing the guitar.

Everything from the note of the lead at 1:27 on “Behind Enemy Lines” to the tom being hit at 2:37 of “Under A Darkening Sky” to just about anything on this album is marked by outstanding production. Considering the type of album this is supposed to be, everything sounds rich and balanced; it’s polished, but not burnt out to take away the qualities it worked for. Since the album traces the battle itself, it closes much in the same way with extra care and precision put forth to capture the listener and throw them into the last flickering inferno. This represents how the Canadians were forced to overcome all obstacles in capturing the village of Passchendaele during the final stages of the battle, thus securing a costly victory for the Entente while immortalizing themselves in history.

I’d highly, highly recommend you check out this album and all it encompasses. You may not take it in as heavily as I have, but that’s all right if you see if for what it is: and ode to those who fought in the battle and, overall, the war that stripped humanity of its virtue greater than anything before it. Never had humans taken part in such a travesty against each other on such a scale, but it wouldn’t be the last time we made such a mistake.

Fucking killer! - 92%

The_Boss, July 15th, 2009

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.

The Band's Best Of Releases - 93%

Stein23, June 22nd, 2009

Passendale, Belgium or in Dutch, Passchendaele , is where one of the bloodiest battles in World War I occurred, in its end the town was leveled to rubbles. The battle of Passendale took place in 1917; it consisted of various operations made by the Entente alliance against the imperial Germany. In 2009, 82 years after this famous battle, the Black / Death Metal band , God Dethroned, have unleashed their new album , Passiondale, a nickname for the name of the town , to teach you , members of the world wide Metal communion, a little history lesson on what happened in Passendale in the first of the two bloodiest world wars.

Formed in 1990 by their leader , Henri Sattler , God Dethroned made their way into the Metal world with albums like The Christhunt , Bloody Blasphemy and Ravenous by playing an attacking form of Black and Death Metal blend , while keeping the Black Metal elements in their music more dominant. Passiondale, released through Metal Blade Records, is well suited to their demonstrations of skill and it turned out to be a well constructed piece of musicianship.

Passiondale’s lyrics were arranged after full-scale research regarding this dreadful event. With the aid of the band’s ex-guitarist on the research part, Henri built a well written concept album that offers no political opinion what so ever regarding the war. The band stated that they are not stepping on or placing blame on any country that participated in the fighting, as they have no political agenda here.

As for the band’s music on Passiondale, you'll hear strong influences of Old School Death and Black Metal melded with modernized components like their guitar tuning, additional keyboards for the atmosphere and a strong drama effect, soft clean vocals sections – although they are minimal.

Since the band was one of the first to mix Black and Death Metal, you can hear that they have not lost their touch. They were able to make energetic, armed with hellish grinds of total velocity , that feels like machine gun fire, alongside mid tempo heavy riffs of marching armies , and dark music full of Black Metal trills to preserve the essence of the band’s intentions.

In Passiondale there are also various add-ons of melodies and emotional solos that balances the story from being too brutal. The album has more moments that are brutal because war is brutal so the music accordingly flows. But the band’s usage of instruments to enforce this sort of drama, like in the track “Poison Cloud” - where you can actually feel and hear a small story of an Entente soldier about the gas wars, his suffocation and even his own death, is absolutely remarkable and is not common in this sub-genre.

Passiondale has more than a handful of great moments and story. What unrolls before you is fierce and violent, yet serving as an eye opener for past events that maybe some of you didn’t know actually occurred. So you don’t have to look through your history books to listen to highlights like: “Under A Darkening Sky” which is the beginning of the massacre fest with massive artillery bursts and machine guns by the angry and charging music of total hell – “Now It’s Time To Settle The Score”. “Poison Cloud” is a well written story that deals with the influences of Mustard. “Passiondale” , the destruction of this small town after a great battle – and excellent and even catchy track, “No Escape From Passiondale”. “No Survivors”, feels like a Bolt Thrower song , like some of the others, like in many bloody battles , there isn’t too much left to salvage – this track is an awesome mayhemic track with catchiness.

“Fallen Empires” , represents the end of the war and fall of Germany, but not only Germany fell while prisoners of war remained on both sides. Here you can sense that this war is only “To Be Continued” to the next world war, and indeed that even happened and the killings returned. God Dethroned won’t let you forget that .”Artifacts Of The Great War” is what remained in field. This track, with its enchanting music and leading solo, helps you gaze upon the horrific horizons of your imagination and behind the ruins and the black smoke.

God Dethroned really came through with a great release that sets them as a mature band in a sub-genre meld. This concept is ,without a doubt, one of their future classics in their long career.

pretty damn good - 85%

gk, June 4th, 2009

Holland’s God Dethroned has been at it since 1991. Starting off as a death metal band then moving onto blackened death, the band has slowly toned down their music till over the course of their last few albums they’ve gone off into melodic death metal territory and the results have been a little inconsistent.

Passiondale is the band’s most recent effort and 8th album overall and is a concept album based on the battle of Passiondale from World War I. The band sounds a lot more confident with their delivery here than they have on the last couple of albums. The music is catchy and melodic for want of a better description but it’s not of the Gothenburg or Bodom varieties. Instead, Passiondale could sit quite comfortably next to the likes of Taetre’s The Art or even Desultory’s Bitterness where you could be extreme and melodic without being cheesy in any way.

The album starts off strong with first song proper, Under a Darkening Sky which comes charging out of the speakers like Marduk gone death metal with its precision riffing and steady melodic undercurrent. Poison Fog illustrates the horrors of World War I from a first person perspective even as the band introduces clean vocals for the first time in the album. The song moves from a brutal opening to a melodic section with main man Henri Sattler doing a pretty decent job with the clean vocals and sounding a bit like Jonas Renske. Drowning in Mud is probably the most aggressive song here and harks back to the blackened death days of the band but it’s the super strong latter half of Passiondale that lifts this album from good to pretty fucking great. Title song Passiondale is mid paced and heavy with a strong performance from drummer Roel Sanders and really reminds me quite a bit of Desultory. No Survivors starts off in trashtastic fashion before going off into more Renske-alike clean vocals that are ridiculously catchy. Behind Enemy Lines and Fallen Empires close the album on an aggressive note with Artifacts of the Great War acting as the outro to the album.

God Dethroned has not done anything particularly new here. The music is mostly a more focused take on the last two albums. Where Passiondale scores is in the fact that the band has stuck to tried and tested formulas but written songs that are just really enjoyable. Henri Sattler and co. also sound quite rejuvenated and Passiondale is the bands best in a long while. If you liked the last two albums then chances are you’ll love this and if you’ve never heard the band before then Passiondale is pretty much the perfect place to start.

Originally written for

Bombastic crunch for the fallen dead - 80%

autothrall, May 9th, 2009

I was rather underwhelmed by the Dutch band's previous effort 'The Toxic Touch', especially after 2004's 'The Lair of the White Worm' was so good. 'Passiondale' is their 8th full-length and a concept based around the city of Passendale in WWI. It falls between the last two albums in the quality of songs, but the execution of sound here is superb, crushing.

God Dethroned have always had a Swedish melodic death influence in their sound, and this album is no exception. The first few tracks "Under a Darkening Sky" and "No Man's Land" are crushers which alternate faster melodic riffing with some ravenous grooves. Despite the fact that the tracks sound great, they didn't do a lot for me. "Poison Fog" improves the situation considerably with a nice grinding riff and a nice touch of atmosphere during the bridge. "Drowning in Mud" kept the blood flowing with a good rock out riff intensified into speedy melodeath riffing. The title track "Passiondale" opens as a slower paced, epic march rhythm, and remains at a lax pace but quite beautifully executed, with a repetitious, effective melody under Henri Sattler's cries of no escape from Passiondale! The rest of the album is also pretty good, with highlights of the quickening "No Survivors" and the great "Behind Enemy Lines".

The killer here is the tone. The guitars swerve and groove with bombastic Marshall crunch and you'll not find a better sounding record in the band's entire discography. This album also has that simplistic 'war metal' style which should appeal to fans of Bolt Thrower or Hail of Bullets, though God Dethroned are faster. It took a few songs to get going, but once 'Passiondale' had me in its clutches I was attentive for the rest of the ride. Good to see this band standing strong with a partially new lineup. Well worth a listen.