God Dethroned
Passiondale

God Dethroned is a band that we’ve witnessed in either one of two forms: “on” or “off.” It’s a little harder to prove when God Dethroned is “on” nowadays, considering many of their detractors haven’t thought them good since 1992’s Christhunt. That said, it’s terribly easy to point at the bad in the God Dethroned discography, in particular 2003’s Into the Lungs of Hell and 2001’s Ravenous, both bearing sparse high points and abounding mediocrity. Rocky past aside, God Dethroned’s latest offering, entailing the bloody and muddy battle of Passchendaele, sees the band at its most “on.”

The First World War is an oft-overlooked avenue that metal musicians take, and while that’s fair, considering World War II features some of the most depraved acts of inhumanity ever witnessed on a global scale, World War I is not without its veritable horror stories. Passchendaele (or Passiondale, in its anglicized glory) is one of the war’s most horrible, resulting in approximately 900,000 dead altogether over the course of six months. How these dead came to be, well, that’s God Dethroned’s charge in storytelling, and Henri Sattler seems rapt in showcasing (not besmirching) the dead in all manner of excruciating ways. Whether men saw their doom inhaling the muck from the marshes of the Yser, or choking to death on the mustard gas the German armies used to flush out allied soldiers, Passchendaele’s participants were ringing Hell’s bells louder than anyone else at the time. Sattler, though not himself a soldier, reverberates the most guttural aspects of the frontlines over ten tracks of melodic death metal, countering Gothenburg’s foothold on the genre with a thrash-heavy Dutch assault.

I’ve liked these guys for a long time, but their material has tended to work its way towards tired and treaded ground in the latter half of the CD. Fortunately, Passiondale does nothing of the sort. It does throw its best track out fairly early in the CD (that’s “Poison Fog,” undeniably the best song they’ve written in a long, long time), but this one is chock full of new God Dethroned classics. “No Survivors” decimates with a hefty thrash riff, decent guitar solos, and clean vocal passage courtesy of Marco van De Velde from fellow Dutch band, The Wounded. “Passiondale” strums a funeral march with its high wailing guitar licks in the opening bars of the song, leading to a simple but memorable chorus. “Artifacts of the Great War” ends the album on an instrumental that calls crows from the skies to pick apart the remains of the day, in the form of a cleverly disguised waltz, no less.

Passiondale doesn’t have an ounce less venom than previous God Dethroned records; just more focus. Probably didn’t hurt that Roel Sanders (drummer on The Grand Grimoire and Bloody Blasphemy, arguably their best two albums) rejoined the band after eight years. What else can I say about this record? If you didn’t like them before, give them another shot. Those of us that have followed their career up to this point can gladly exclaim “YES!” to a God Dethroned album on par with their potential.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Kris Yancey
May 11th, 2009

Comments

  1. Commented by: Staylow

    This album is full of win. A sure shot top 10 for me. Good write up.


  2. Commented by: Erik Thomas

    Yeah – its solid

    Man I was listening to Lair of the White worm over the weekend, and the opeing “Nihilism” is simply stunning.


  3. Commented by: Kenny

    The opening cut of LotWW is excellent but I find that the album trails off in quality in the second half, which means I rarely revisit it.

    This review has certainly put to rest any fears that this new album may do the same, thanks Kris – I’ll definitely give it a go.


  4. Commented by: jeremy

    Pretty damn good album through and through.


  5. Commented by: Blog › Teeth of the Divine Staff Picks of 2009 › Teeth of the Divine

    […] Dethroned – Passiondale – This was a very close contender for my AOTY spot. This album is just a beast, from the monster […]


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