|Review: God Dethroned - The Grand Grimoire|
|The Grand Grimoire|
Label: Metal Blade Records
Year released: 1997
Review online: May 6, 2020
Reviewed by: Mjölnir
for:The Grand Grimoire
God Dethroned are basically a household name in Blackened Death Metal at this point, and a big part of that is due to this album. While their debut The Christhunt was well received in the underground, it sold poorly when it came out, largely due to their label doing nothing to promote it after refusing to let the band put a dissected rat as the album cover, and the band broke up shortly afterwards. Band leader Henri Sattler reformed the band with a new lineup a few years later and released their sophomore album, which got them a lot of attention and effectively launched their career. After listening to it, I can say that now, over 20 years later, it's still easy to see why.
Far from the more traditional Death Metal of The Christhunt, The Grand Grimoire is a very melodic strand of Black/Death that takes as much from bands like Vital Remains as it does Dissection, mixing in the aggression of their debut with a sharp sense of melody that it mostly lacked. The guitar sound is a bit thin on this, but the excellent riffs and sometimes jaw-dropping rolling harmonies shine through, and Sattler's blackened bellows add a real sense of urgency throughout. The melodic sensibilities on here border on Melodeath in places, but rather than dampen their sound, they only add to the blasphemous rage of songs like the opener "The Art of Immolation", the excellent title track, and the murderous "Colosseum Serenade". There are places where they don't incorporate it as well as they could, as on the moody midsection of "Under a Silver Moon" and the closing section of "The Somberness of Winter", but they're still filled with ferocious and sometimes stunning melodies, so I can overlook that a bit. The only song that doesn't work is their cover of Arthur Brown's "Fire", which just sounds ridiculous when given the Black/Death treatment.
The band would go on to reach dizzying highs with Ravenous and Passiondale along with disappointing lows with Into the Lungs of Hell and The Toxic Touch, but it's doubtful they would have gotten that far without this album. It's not as good as later works, but it established the band as a real contender in the Black/Death, and even today it holds up as a fine example of how you mix the two genres to make something that's as barbaric as it is sometimes beautiful. Killer stuff.
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