As good as God Dethroned’s last release, Passiondale, was, halfway through it seemed to have lost something. Perhaps it was the addition of the clean vocals, or went too melodic, whatever; still, I went into the album thinking “This is great! One of the albums of the year!” and came out slightly disappointed. It wasn’t that the album was un-listenable, but threw me off.
Their latest release, Under the Sign of the Iron Cross, due for release in North America on Tuesday, picks up where that extremity left off. The music on this album maintains the band’s signature groove, yet downplays it. The result is a well-balanced mix of melodic brutality. The title track is a perfect example of this. There are some clean vocals, but don’t distract from the extreme metal behind them. The symphonic ending works, but would have made the song better placed at the end of the album.
The non-brutal elements of this album, such as the aforementioned clean vocals, intro, and guitar solos are kept short and sweet. For the most part, God Dethroned storm in, blast you away, and leave. The song “The Killing is Faceless” suffers at the end with a fade-out, but that is only a minor low point amongst what is otherwise an excellent death metal album. The production is awesome, giving the instruments room to breathe while staying tight at the same time. Production on Extreme metal albums in general have come a long way, and this album is a prime example of this.
Under the Sign of the Iron Cross is a must-have for not just God Dethroned fans, but death metal fans in general. This album receives a double horns up.