God Dethroned – “The World Ablaze” (Metal Blade Records)
A well established act since the early 90s especially in the Benelux region having played famous festivals like the Dynamo Open Air, Graspop, Wacken and Summer Breeze, Henri Sattler and his death metal commandos have gone much further playing the Earthshaker and New England Metal & Hardcore fests, not to mention 70,000 Tons of Metal! The last in the trilogy of World War I themed albums, “The World Ablaze” is overall the band’s 10th release, and pretty much continues in the same fine but destructive style as its predecessors. Quite why this band is so popular in its longevity is simple: superior death metal honed since the beginning of the genre laced with tasteful melodies and monster hooks making for extremely memorable material indeed! With a background in thrash, Sattler has evolved the band through death to also incorporate blackened aspects and in the case of the more recent releases, become comparable to the war mongering brutality of the much mourned Bolt Thrower. From the assault of ‘Close To Victory’ with its whirring driller killer riffs and blast barrage drumming, not to mention Sattler’s raw drawls to ‘charge…shoot to kill… and take no prisoners’, the grimness is superbly contrasted mid song by some funeral doom melodies and an even more uplifting guitar solo as if in the pleasant eye of a raging storm – bringing false hope before the darkness closes back once again! With the guitars switching to a heavy chugging tempo on ‘Escape Across the Ice (The White Army)‘, you almost feel like part of a marching battalion as Sattler’s dry tones tell the tale allowing Michiel Van Der Plicht to shine with plenty of precision drum breaks before the meaty melodies take the song to a new high. I love the way Sattler has added this in intelligently so that it’s not contrived or over indulgent, but most of all, doesn’t take anything away from the furor of the material, not to mention the atmosphere of battle horror. On the reverb drenched and crushing ‘Breathing Through Blood‘ with the guitars wailing like air raid sirens and Plicht’s double bass drumming beats slowing to sound like a WWI machine gun, the dark melodies are nothing short of gripping as Sattler’s bestial growls take on monstrous proportions before the inevitable blast beating is executed like detonating shells. Closing with ‘The 11th Hour’, the grim guitars take a slight step back as Sattler introduces more heavy metal influences in Maiden-esque soloing amid the epic tone of the song, with its peaceful ambient interlude, before returning to close off the song and ultimately this captivating release. A truly superior album by all accounts, there is nothing more to say than it’s great to have these guys back once again!