God Dethroned – Illuminati (Metal Blade Records)
Review by Milos Sebalj
Here’s a band that never reached the ultimate stardom some of their contemporaries (or country mates for that matter) have gained. They never had that one (two or three) song or album to propel them to greatness. Sure, “Villa Vampiria” is a regular part of their live set, along with a few more tracks, but still… On the other hand, most of death metal ‘stars’ have at some point gotten to a supernova and sunken in the ears of their fans. Not God Dethroned. They keep delivering mighty punches time and again. You might not be able to separate their albums without knowing exactly which is which, but there is no denying that all of them far surpass the average. About that separating… You will surely know “Illuminati” whenever it spins!
A brand of death metal performed by God Dethroned should be well known among the fans by now. They have not changed. It’s that same brutality, complemented by a certain thrashing feel and melodic black metal.
However, this time they have enhanced it with enormous atmospheric touches. Brought to you by the omnipresent background keyboards, it makes this album a giant leap into the unknown for the band. To an astonishing degree, to be perfectly honest. One might think the keys would dull the blade, but the Dutch quartet made good use of them. “Illuminati” has this huge epic aura around it, while still sounding like a tough death metal album should. There is a real sense of presence at some secret meeting of the famed Illuminati created in the title track. Also, “Gabriel” bears the feel of the archangel’s very own trumpet being taken by force and used to foul end.
Another notable difference to their previous outings are the choirs, used in a couple of tracks as a supplement to Henri’s growls. Combination of those, with the above mentioned keyboards and traditional death metal… Try it on the best speakers you are able to find. Makes the hair on the back of my neck stand still in salute to the mighty impact. Again, I shall mention the opening, title track. No wonder God Dethroned made the song their first single off the album. There’s a compelling video for the song as well, if that is not enough.
A side note, for those going straight for the visuals now. Before you check out the video for “Illuminati”, you must first see “Book of Lies” and “Spirit of Beelzebub”. So, reverse order to the one in which they were published. Believe me, it will be worth it.
As with the shift in sound, the themes change too. It would be quite weird to have such a huge wall of sound cover some gruesome and terrifying scene from World War I, right? Since the lyrics cover a vast array of religious topics, from ancient Egypt to biblical images and secret societies, the music that underlines them fits perfectly. Blasphemy is the obvious point of view, though there is some thought to the poetic side of “Illuminati”, so the clichés have mostly been omitted.
God Dethroned certainly made a move. As witnessed from the beginning of this review, this may have just been a signal of their downfall. History has taught us that fans usually do not appreciate sudden changes to their favorite band’s sound. I definitely never believed I could have a favorite album by God Dethroned. But this one… Absolute killer!