Somewhere between Black and Death Metal there is a rather dark blend referred to as Blackened Death Metal. It uses the atmospheres and raw power of Black Metal with a more brutal edge. Harder guitars and harder gutturals and harder drums. It can be a rather difficult midway to spot but there are some fantastic bands to come out of this sub-genre. One such band is God Dethroned. Known for a rough rounded Death Metal feel with a constant hook of melodies hidden within its darkness. God Dethroned are perhaps a lesser known, but none-the-less important part of Extreme Metal history – or at least earlier albums have been. Illuminati is the eleventh album, following from their third run with the band and is their second album of this modern era.
As mentioned there is a melodic edge to God Dethroned, Illuminati is no exception. Their mastery of Metal is within the guitar licks but with the occasional vocal line, Illuminati is another example of this. If Illuminati is going to reach you, in any way, it'll be the guitars and vocal lines. The brutality of the guitar riffs and drums will always have that rough edge of atmosphere though. It builds around you, like an air of foreboding, but the lead guitar rings out in the darkness, whilst the growls of Henri T.S.K. Sattler is that surprising element. In itself his vocals aren't special within Metal, they're effective and powerful but never too distinct to be noticed in themselves. But each song manages to offer up something to remember: 'Spirit of Beelzebub' is one of the better examples. “I am the Spirit” being an iconic God Dethroned element layered on to something new with this album, a chant-like approach to singing with “I am the Spirit of Beelzebub'.
Songs to really hammer in the melodic guitar lines, slow but amazing in much the same way that bands like Amon Amarth or At the Gates are able to achieve, are the albums namesake as well as 'Broken Halo', 'Book of Lies' and 'Blood Moon Eclipse'. To vary these up we have slower and less brutal songs like 'Gabriel', but it never manages to feel too powerful. Distinct when listened to but not quite to remember in much the same way as other tracks. It does vary the album up though and it keeps it all alive. It's just not quite as with you as other tracks. Previous God Dethroned albums have offered a lot more in the way of their vocal lines, which is one of the key things really missing here. It is evident that the new approach, including the occasional chants, are the substitute for this.
Illuminati therefore stands as a victim of God Dethroned's success. Fact is, their other albums have been more successful at laying down the God Dethroned sound. It is not to say that the album isn't powerful and even the less memorable songs have that exciting atmosphere that runs through each God Dethroned song. Furthermore, Illuminati manages to keep a listener listening through its many different tracks, livening up what could be lost to the white noise of Metal. This tends to be a pitfall of many other albums, which Illuminati manages to side-step. This makes Illuminati well worth a listen, it may not be God Dethroned's best, but it still is God Dethroned.