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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

God Dethroned

The Toxic Touch

Review by Mike Korn

Holland's God Dethroned has been so consistently good for so many years that it's very easy to take them for granted. They have turned out unique and interesting death metal on a very regular basis since the early 90's and show no signs of slowing down. With their latest effort The Toxic Touch, they throw some stylistic changes into their usual stew of aggressive but melodic sonic violence and I feel that this will help stretch the band's longevity. In the conservative extreme metal scene, you walk a shaky tightrope when you change your style, especially when you decrease the aggression beyond what your faithful hordes are used to. It can take years for a band to get back their "underground rep" after such a change. Here, God Dethroned tackle the shift in the best way possible, keeping very true to their past sound on "On Wings of Pestilence" and "Macabre World" while tossing in surprises like the bluesy instrumental "Away From Emptiness" or the more accessible (but still crunchy) "Falling Down". Throughout it all, the musicianship remains tight and the hateful vocals of Henri Sattler maintain their venom...no clean vocals from him. I really do think The Toxic Touch will appeal to the God Dethroned faithful while attracting new fans to this underrated but vicious band!

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2007 Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Faithless
This brief opener does kind of make you wonder what's going on, with its staccato, Fear Factory-type riff and short spoken passage. But it doesn't last long at all.
Hating Life
This takes the basic riff of "Faithless", amplifies it and then switches gears to a very smooth, speedy vibe that is classic God Dethroned. The lyrics details the thoughts of a man about to commit suicide and Henri's bitter vocals mirror his despair perfectly. The tune switches back and forth between the industrial metal feel and the more typical fast thrashy tone.
2014
A scorching thrash riff kicks this off and the pace is generally very fast throughout, but injecting the little touches of melody which are typical of God Dethroned. A pulsating groove arises in the mid-section and there's a cool rock-influenced guitar solo from Isaac De La Haye. "In 2014, they take the world by storm/ We don't know who they are, but they'll come, that's for sure!"
Falling Down
There’s no let up in speed and aggression here, but the tone of this seems less death metal and more in the vein of modern thrash like Pantera and The Haunted. A lot of down-tuned chug is included on this one. A whole album of this would have been off-putting but it fits fine in the course of The Toxic Touch.
On Wings Of Pestilence
Now this is blasting God Dethroned death metal at its best and matches very well with their classics. The song tells the gruesome tale of a succubus named "Mary" (not the last time we'll encounter that name on the CD). There's some very cool epic sounding guitar riffs here, well-matched with subtle keyboard work and also a very surprising but not out of place slower bluesy grind. Great stuff...nobody else in death metal sounds quite like this!
The Day You Died
This is a heavily rhythmic cut, driven by the powerful drumming of Arien van Weesenbeek. It's a slower, more pounding vibe and Henri's vocals are lower and gruffer than usual. The main body of this track is pretty sluggish and it's not an album standout.
Away From Emptiness
This instrumental is different from anything the band has done before. It begins with a pretty but melancholy acoustic melody and a choir softly singing in the background. At the minute and a half mark, it gets heavy and Isaac Delahaye cuts loose with a beautiful guitar solo that is reminiscent of the late Randy Rhoads. In fact, the whole track has a feeling of early Ozzy to it - an excellent track.
Macabre World
It's back to death with this brutal cut, which reminds me a lot of the material on God Dethroned's classic Grand Grimoire album. Another choir helps to embellish the flowing but vicious riffing. This is one of the best tracks on the album and ranks right up there with "On Wings of Pestilence". "What's happening? I can't find my way/Macabre world, I think I've lost my mind."
Typhoid Mary
Once again, a naughty character named Mary shows up...a recurring theme throughout God Dethroned's body of work. It's again a little slower than we're used to, but heavy in a doomy, downtrodden way. Check out the really cool, almost classical sounding guitar scales in the mid-section. This is a much better slower tune than the earlier "The Day You Died.”
Fail To Exist
This is a strong track but I would have probably ended with the totally stand-out "Macabre World.” The cut is the fusion of pulsing thrash and sad melody that typifies God Dethroned. When the speed kicks in on this one, it's fast but not the blast beating we might have expected from the band.
 
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