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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.

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