God Dethroned have been releasing bloody blasphemies for nearly 30 years. Illuminati follows their 2017 effort, The World Ablaze. Their previous trio of albums: Passiondale, Under the Sign of the Iron Cross and The World Ablaze featured lyrics centered on World War I. With Illuminati, the Dutch group return to their anti-Christian/occult roots.
As the title suggests, “Illuminati” is a song about the secret society of the same name. “Horus” deals with the Egyptian god of the underworld and the balance of good and evil. “Book of Lies” is an anti-Christian song about forced conversion. “Satan Spawn,” “Spirit of Beelzebub” and “Blood Moon Eclipse” are good old fashioned evil death metal songs.
To flesh out these occult themes, the group adds mystical atmosphere through keyboards and choir vocals. They use keys throughout the album, something they didn’t do on the previous album, The World Ablaze. “Illuminati” sets the vibe early, opening the album with keys, which find a crescendo paired with clean voices during chorus parts. “Spirit of Beelzebub” starts fast, but the group moves into epic choirs during the chorus. “Eye of Horus” nails the divine idea in the title through keys, chants and guitar harmonies, while double bass churns in the background. “Book of Lies” meshes guitar harmonies with keys in pure majesty. “Dominus Muscarum” is a gothic intro consisting of choir voices and organ keys.
Keys and choirs make Illuminati a mystical album, but these aspects are only parts of the whole. In terms of pace and instrumentation, Illuminati is the band’s most varied album. Although the album is made up of melodic sections and mid paces, most compositions include blasting sections and harsh vocals. One thing about mastermind Henri Sattler’s vocals, though, is his they are easy to understand, which allows his lyrics and stories to be heard and not lost in guttural emissions. “Satan Spawn” begins with buzz saw guitars and pounding drums. “Blood Moon Eclipse” is perhaps the fastest song, starting with blast beats and a monstrous scream.
For all the heavy hitting parts, there seems to be more melodic sections. The mystical vibe is what makes Illuminati a good listen, but there are moments I wish they would pick up the pace a bit. The mixture of mid-paces, atmosphere and speed are fairly balanced, but I still want more ferocity. That’s the only thing that keeps this album from getting a higher rating. God Dethroned have stayed consistent in their sound. Illuminati continues that tradition. It even hearkens back to their earlier material, at least lyrically.
(released February 7, 2020 on Metal Blade Records)
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Watch God Dethroned – “Illuminati” Video