In our oh so humble opinion, God Dethroned‘s Passiondale was one of the best albums of 2009 — even though, in our typically half-assed fashion, we didn’t get around to reviewing it until January 2010, nine months after its release (here). It was unusual in that it was a concept album about one of the most horrific battles of World War I, fought for control of the village of Passchendaele near the town of Ypres in West Flanders, Belgium.
In that battle, the British launched massive attacks, without any decisive success until the Canadian Corps took Passchendaele in November 1917. The result? The Allies had captured a mere 5 miles of new territory at a cost of 140,000 combat deaths — about two inches per dead soldier. And then five months later the Germans recaptured the ground they had lost, without resistance.
Passchendaele became a symbol of “grinding attrition warfare” and the heedless sacrifice of human life by inept military commanders. It would have remained a symbol of senseless sacrifice to this day, except with the passage of time, most people now know nothing about it. But God Dethroned resurrected the memories and constructed a masterful soundtrack to the horrors of that war.
But Passiondale did not exhaust Henri Sattler‘s interest in World War I. He and his bandmates in God Dethroned have now released the second concept album about “The War To End All Wars”. Under the Sign of the Iron Cross (the band’s 9th studio release) is, if anything, even more intense, more emotionally powerful than Passiondale, and it’s simply brilliant — a raw, ravaging assault on the senses that’s also loaded with infectious riffs and dark melodies. If we had the ambition to make our own list of 2010’s best albums, Under the Sign of the Iron Cross would be on it. (more after the jump, including a track for you to hear . . .)