Albums that revolve around one unifying lyrical theme often walk a fine line between being immersive and being gimmicky. Acts such as Nile, Melechesh, and Bolt Thrower have proven that it is can be done well, but only with some serious dedication and research. While God Dethroned have already proven their passion for WWI history with Under the Sign of the Iron Cross and Passiondale (Passchendaele), The World Ablaze takes it a step further and establishes the theme as more than just a lyrical phase within the band. War is a very familiar subject when it comes to metal, but God Dethroned still managed to make their latest effort a memorable one.
The World Ablaze starts out on the blacker side of the God Dethroned sound, and as the album progresses, more and more death metal riffs are slipped in as the album reaches it’s climax. The riffs tend to slow down the pacing of the album and stir up a thick gloomy atmosphere, which has an exhausting and spirit-breaking effect, but the rigorous and unrelenting drumming works as a counter to this and keeps the album from falling into doom territory. By the end of the record, everything, including the drums, slow down considerably and things end just as WWI does. It’s strange to hear a death metal album that ends on a positive note, but the focus on the guitar and the all around tempo actually works as a satisfying conclusion.
The production flirts with sterility and it could have benefited from a dirtier mix, but the sound still manages to hold a consistent presence throughout the album. Everything ties together nicely, and yet there’s still this underlying feeling of mediocrity. I wouldn’t call The World Ablaze as a whole a mediocre album, but there’s still this feeling of a potential that was never reached. Most of the songs are memorable, if a tad bit formulaic, and tracks such as “The World Ablaze” and “Escape Across the Ice (The White Army)” manage to really shine through and establish themselves as more impressive notches on the belt of the band. That said, the remainder kind of blurs together, especially on further listens. So while The World Ablaze may be a good/great release in it’s entirety, there’s a certain punch that is missing when you break everything down.
Blackened death metal can mean very different things depending on which band is making the music, and it’s nice to hear that God Dethroned embraces the blackened side enough to let the colder sound sit with the listener. War, even WWI specifically might be a tired trope at this point, but the historical accuracy and subtle details sewn into mix are able to keep things interesting enough for at least a single listen. The World Ablaze isn’t groundbreaking, but it’s still a reasonably impressive and undoubtedly satisfying release.
The World Ablaze is available now via Metal Blade Records.