Wow, this album has quickly risen to be one of my favorite new albums of 2009. God Dethroned’s newest release “Passiondale” is an amazing concept album that deals with World War I in 1917, and it’s also named after a village which is located in Belgium, where some of the most bloodiest fights and wars took place. The tone of this album is very dark and brutal, it really matches all of the events that took place there. I just got my hands on “Passiondale” on my birthday recently at FYE down in Eau Claire, and I really like it alot. I’ve been listening to this album almost every day especially on the way to work in the morning, I just can’t get enough of it, and I’ve also been becoming a bigger fan of God Dethroned lately. This is only the second album of theirs that I own, the other one being “Lair of the White Worm” which is an awesome album as well. The lyrics on “Passiondale” deal with the horrors of trench warfare, mustard gas, machine guns firing and ripping through soldiers, etc. The band have also incorporated real war propagandas in cuts such as “Under a Darkening Sky” and “Drowning in Mud”, as well as statements from survivors (“Poison Fog”) and dead soldiers (“No Survivors”) in the lyrics which is really cool, and they add a nice touch. The production of this album is terrific and the band’s musicianship is just flat out devastating and amazing to say the least. They also make great use of keyboards in a handful of songs as well. The guitarwork on here is absolutely top notch, the riffs are just heavy, brutal, and sick beyond words, but also melodic at times as well, and there’s lots of awesome tremolo picking and some amazing solos to boot. Please keep in mind, that all the guitars on this album were done by Henri Sattler (read the album credits on the back of the booklet for instance). I can sure tell that he put a tremendous effort into writing and performing all of the guitar parts on this album. Mr. Sattler himself also delivers an awesome vocal performance as well, charging and ripping throughout with mean, angry snarls and growls with sheep passion and intensity. Roel Sanders’s drumming is just monstrous and off the hook throughout. His blast beats are just wickedly fast, sick, and pummeling, and he also performs excellent straight ahead thrah metal-esque fills, and double bass kicking, but he also knows when to tone it down a bit at times as well.
Passiondale kicks off with an intro “The Cross of Sacrifice” which features spoken words by Midori Hass-Kayanuma, that leads into one of my favorite cuts “Under a Darkening Sky” which immediately goes into an unrelenting and unforgiving assault of hammering blast beats, sick, vicious guitar riffs, and Sattler’s angry growls soon quickly come into play, and there’s also a wicked sounding solo, and a great chorus to boot. “No Man’s Land” and “Drowning in Mud” are both among some of the album’s most brutal and pummeling cuts with the former mentioned song featuring more wild, brutal riffage, mad pummeling skins, visceral vocals, and some wild soloing, and the latter mentioned song being highlighted by a catchy chorus, along with more rapid thrash-like drumming and ripping double bass kicks and some great tremolo picking. Other favorites include “Poison Fog” and “No Survivors” which both feature some additional clean vocals from Marco v.d. Velde. “Poison Fog” is my favorite song on the whole album, for it is highlighted by more pummeling blast beats, savage riffing, and more great vocals and lyrics from Sattler, and we also have an amazingly, majestic and melodic guitar solo which is followed by a fantastic keyboard outro, and they really add to the atmosphere of this song. “No Survivors” is highlighted by of course more sick, wicked machine gun-like blasting, along with more straight ahead thrashing, pounding fills, and brutal, shredding guitars, and wailing leadwork. This song also features some of my favorite lyrics: “Our Last Assault For Victory”, “Shattered By Machine Gun Fire”, “Bombs Rain Down In Cataracts”, “Carnival Of Death”. The title track is another one of my favorites that features an awesome melodic guitar and drum intro, which leads into more melodic riffing, slower yet steady paced double bass drumming, and great vocals to boot. Other highlights include “Behind Enemy Lines” which begins with a slow yet heavy riff that leads to an all out battering assault of hammering drums, savage, blistering riffs, and ferocious vocals, and “Artifacts of the Great War” is a terrific closing instrumental that features fantastic melodic guitarwork that is downright tasty and atmospheric.
Overall, there’s not even one bad song on this album, they’re all great. This whole album is an epic death metal beast to say the least with no fillers whatsoever, and it’s also one of the best death metal albums of 2009 that I’ve had the pleasure of listening to. Anyways, if you’re a fan of God Dethroned, death metal, melodic death metal, blackened death metal, or just metal in general, then by all means, you’ll definately like “Passiondale”. Even fans of thrash and black metal will really like this too. Highly Recommended!!