God Dethroned was subject to one of the most celebrated comebacks to me. Favorites of mine since forever, the Dutch blackened death war tank spent seven years without blasting out new material from 2010 to 2017, and their return with ‘The World Ablaze’ was a fitting one for a band of their magnitude. Gladly for us, the death masters are once again crawling through the trenches of extreme music to deliver us ‘Illuminati’, an album that brings with it the same old God Dethroned we are used to, and more.
As the first chords of the title-track start to fill the void of silence, the heavy aura and ethereal elements are revealed as protagonists in almost every song here. Despite having moments of pure rawness and brutality, we see God Dethroned relying more in atmospheric passages and stronger melodies in comparison to more direct efforts like ‘Bloody Blasphemy’ (1999) or ‘The Toxic Touch’ (2006). The lyrics, on the other hand, go side-by-side with the anti-Christian, blasphemous approach of earlier albums like ‘The Christhunt’ (1992).
Having a more heterogeneous nature than its predecessor, several different death/black memories surface here, especially regarding speed and instrumental parts. The Necrophobic-esque “Broken Halo”, the clear Bolt Thrower influence in “Spirit of Beelzebub” and “Blood Moon Eclipse”, an almost Behemoth-like transition in “Gabriel” and even some memories of Nile in “Eye of Horus” all make for a masterful homage to the genre as a whole.
As far as the melodic moments go, it’s easy to remember Wolfheart in the first part of “Book of Lies”, as the opposite is called upon in “Satan Spawn”, where chaos and rage dominate Henri Sattler and his acolytes. Sattler’s growls sound as great as ever, and the lower tones fit him perfectly, as do the songwriting, clearly constructed to support his voice.
Sorrowful, anguished emotions are illustrated brilliantly with harsher, weighty excerpts like in “Gabriel” and instrumental “Dominus Muscarum”. Being a non-conceptual album helps a lot in terms of listenability, especially because of how the songs are spaced in the record, which significantly improves the replay factor. The album production is great, though it could have fared better in terms of dynamic range, and the mixing sounds stellar.
Focusing more on the band’s heydays and adding some twists to their instrumental formula, God Dethroned have stood clear of the hive mind once again and got back to haunting us with tales of forced evangelism, demonic frenzies and the good ol’ Satan love.
‘Illuminati’ thrives in terms of cataclysmic, no-frills death metal. Indomitable in spirit, God Dethroned masterfully rose from the ashes in ‘The World Ablaze’ and carved their name in the current metal scene, as well as justified once again their legendary status. A step above its predecessor, and a must-buy for every black/death fan.