There’s nothing wrong with a healthy work ethic. This is demonstrated by Henri Sattler and his God Dethroned gang with their second instalment of World War One themed albums. Passiondale was released only a year ago and now the band are back with a new album, entitled Under The Sign Of The Iron Cross. Its predecessor is a tough act to follow up on in terms of quality and critical acclaim, but then again Henri Sattler and Co never failed in delivering quality albums. Let’s see how solid their latest album is.
Under The Sign Of The Iron Cross is very much in line with Passiondale, but there are some twists and turns as well. First of all the new material is more layered and complex, making it quite a challenge to get to the essence of this album. Secondly, the band stepped up in terms of technicality and sonic violence, which turns Under The Sign Of The Iron Cross into a very intense listening experience. None of the previous God Dethroned albums are exactly “easy listening” or “middle of the road” music, but this album tops them all in terms of sheer savagery. Songs like Storm Of Steel, Fire Storm, The Killing Is Faceless and Chaos Reigns At Dawn certainly get the point across.
Placing all your bets on a single element tends to make things one-dimensional and that’s exactly where expert song writing abilities make the difference. As on Passiondale, The Toxic Touch and any other previous albums there’s lots of melody and mid paced breaks present which add a lot of texture and depth to the album in general. This is certainly the case on Through Byzantine Hemispheres, The Red Baron and On Fields Of Death And Desolation. Those songs remind me of Under A Silver Moon, Soul Capture 1562 and The Somberness Of Winter and give this album an unexpected feeling of grandeur.
The rough, relentless and uncompromising nature of Under The Sign Of The Iron Cross certainly mirrors the unimaginable horrors soldiers had to face at Ypres, Verdun, Gallipoli and The Somme. This album isn’t a political statement in the sense of novels like Im Westen Nichts Neues by Erich Maria Remarque or Le Feu by Henri Barbusse. It’s simply a historical account of what happened during The Great War.
Under The Sign Of The Iron Cross is a very solid album and it has the same level of quality as Passiondale. It’s rough around the edges, relentless and uncompromising, yet surprisingly melodic at the same time, but above all it’s very much vintage God Dethroned. I can’t wait for the third and last instalment of Henri Sattler’s trilogy on The Great War!
written by Raymond Westland