Released: 2006, Metal Blade
The transformation of God Dethroned from blackened thrash/death band to melodic death/Gothenburg is complete with their release of THE TOXIC TOUCH. I have to say emphatically that this is not a bad thing, NOT a bad thing at all. I know that “Gothenburg” has become a dirty word in recent years, partially through the metalcore movement cribbing all their riffs from classic In Flames and At the Gates, and also through the crap releases of Gothenburg heavyweights like In Flames and Soilwork themselves. But God Dethroned have released a superb record, one that could stand proudly beside THE JESTER RACE and THE GALLERY. Could this be the rebirth of the Gothenburg sound?
I would welcome it. God Dethroned have retained slight black influences, most noticeably in the vocals, and also in the atmosphere created. But the guitar sound, the melodies, the drumming takes us back to the heyday of Swedish melodic death. Think heavy thick guitars weaving melody after melody, riff after riff around the hypnotic keyboards (which are used very minimally – it’s all about atmosphere). Think slow heavy drumming, interlaced with fast brutal kicking and rolls. Think snarled vocals. Think searing leads. Think the best of Sweden – and that’s not Volvo or blonde nymphomaniacs.
The album starts off with a great chant-along lasting a few seconds, but when the album starts proper with “Hating Life” you know you’re happy. You’ve got a smile on your face when the gallop starts you headbanging. The vocals are clear, not growled beyond recognition. Lyrically, the album is extremely depressing, and why not. And listen to when they slow it down, the melancholy and depression is overwhelming (“Away From Emptiness” and “Typhoid Mary”). The funny thing is that although one can almost immediately identify the album as Swedish melodic death, one can’t really place a finger on who they sound like. Surely this must say something about their originality, that they haven’t just copied the riffs and sounds from the Swedish bands. Very peculiar.
I thought about going through the album song by song, but that would be quite tedious. Overall, I love this album, it’s a real throwback to the good old days where In Flames, Soilwork, Carcass, Dark Tranquillity and At the Gates were producing great albums. THE TOXIC TOUCH is not a copycat record by any means, it’s a great standalone album, with no filler among the songs. There is enough variation and brutality in the songs, enough punch and power to keep a listener interested. A great effort.