Netherlands´ GOD DETHRONED are a band most people in the Metal audience know about, and have come to love or hate, be that as it may, the point is you´ve at least heard about them somewhere down the road. Early records garnered many a praise, while albums from recent years have been met with somewhat average success.
Not familiar with any of their albums, I must say that “Passiondale” is not that bad alltogether. The biggest selling point is that this is their most epic release to date, as one would´ve gathered looking at the lyrical concept of the album. Mixing some of the brutal aspects of modern day HYPOCRISY, ancient thrash tempos of SLAYER and traditional Melo Death Metal elements together with the surging melodic wrath of AMON AMARTH and some epic keyboards arrangements, founder and sole original member Henri Sattler and his comrades take you back to WW1 and its brutal nature.
As for measuring the overall quality of the album, well, it has some great moments (not as many as I would´ve liked), like the truly captivating outro of “Poison Fog” and the MAIDEN inspired melody lines in the title track. As a concept album, it works good as well although a bit minimalistic. The atmosphere´s intense (with the lyrical ideas revolving around what might´ve been one of the bloodiest battles in the eighteenth century, it better be intense), but I would´ve loved to have some interludes between the combatant tracks. Some rather ineffective clean vocals appear once or twice on the album to counter the loud yet standard quality growls, don´t really know why the clean singing ended up on the album because it certainly does not appear to be in sync with the warlike vibe, pretty odd.
I might be far off, but for a band that´s two years from rounding up a two decade career and often being referred to as the flagship of Dutch Death Metal, I feel that “Passiondale” could´ve, and to some extent, should´ve had more expanding songwriting and production. Nevertheless, a good album that also pays homage to one of the many conflicts during WW1.
(Online May 17, 2009)