It’s very possible the Grand Old Party in the United States has turned into a cult. If you’re a Trump supporter and that sentence upsets you, the back button is right above you. There are other websites for you. But things have increasingly become more deranged and, uh, brainwashy that it’s terrifying to think what might happen in the next few years if they aren’t defeated.
Cults, secret societies, weird religious groups, and other such associations have been a part of the entire world for as long as people knew how to assemble, and honestly, they fascinate the hell out of me. That’s one of the main reasons I was immediately intrigued by “Illuminati,” the new record from Dutch death metal crushers God Dethroned, the other being that this band kills it every time out, and this is no exception. The band had been focused on World War I themes their past three albums (their recent profile in Decibel detailed how they’d essentially run out of material for more songs about it), and instead they took a stab back to death’s past when lashing against religion was one of the primary goals. The theme makes this one of the most interesting God Dethroned records to date and one of the most varied. It’s heavy and blistering, but it’s not straight skullduggery. The band—Henri Sattler (vocals, guitars), Jeroen Pomper (bass, vocals), Dave Meester (guitars), Michiel van der Plicht (drums)—employs more atmospherics and injects a lot of synth into the songs, making it hazier. But make no mistake: This is a piledriver of an album that does ample damage.
The title track gets us started with powerful chugging and Sattler howling to “create a new world order without religion.” The bridge before the chorus is a strong one, and melody fires up before the track deals its final blows. “Broken Halo” charges up and rips out your guts as speed sets the tone, and the leads lap up the flowing plasma. Dual lines unite as Sattler wails, “Set fire to the Garden of Eden,” as a furious assault takes the song out. “Book of Lies” delivers melodic riffs and gruff vocals, and the chorus is catchy as well. A devastating display is launched, opening up the floodgates and soaking you totally. A razor-sharp solo then works its way in, and the track ends up in a cloud of dust. “Spirit of Beelzebub” is fast and relentless, as grisly growls lead the way, and the band unloads forcefully. Clean singing adds a different texture to the chorus, and later on Sattler calls, “Cast a shadow upon this world,” as the track ends in a blast furnace.
“Satan Spawn” is grisly and violent with a simple, effective chorus that devastates you. Guitars boil and erupt before a manic pace is launched, and everything comes to a gut-wrenching end. “Gabriel” is slower driving with scary growls and some melody to ease the knife into the ribs. Sattler howls about the “jealous angel” as the fall of Satan arrives, with him wailing, “This war is never ending, but we’ll win at all costs.” “Eye of Horus” has chant-like vocals scarring as the guitars chug with the verses pummeling bruised flesh. The playing is catchy but thorny with the chants returning later, and the final moments punch into your side. “Dominus Muscarum” is a quick instrumental interlude with organs crying and pastoral chants, and we end with “Blood Moon Eclipse” that utterly explodes through the doors. The chorus is a crusher while the tempo makes a quick shift later as Sattler calls, “Seize the demons in your mind.” Strong leads rumble while their playing even steers toward proggy, eventually fading out into relentless flames.
Here we are, 11 records into their run, and God Dethroned still have tricks up their sleeve, which they demonstrate on “Illuminati.” If you’re like me, these songs will have you doing deep Google searches to brush up on your knowledge base, which makes the adventure into these cuts even richer. As long as the band is digging into religious fervor and strange groups that have existed through time, they could never run out of inspiration or material ever.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/goddethronedofficial
To buy the album, go here: https://www.indiemerch.com/metalbladerecords
For more on the label, go here: https://www.metalblade.com/us/