Interview by Dr. Abner Mality

Despite being one of the most colossal and horrific confrontations in human history, World War I doesn't seem to get much respect. It is largely overshadowed by its younger sibling, World War II, which boasted a more memorable cast like Adolf Hitler, Winston Churchill and FDR and ended with an atomic bang. Yet World War I was a watershed event in history...the dividing line between the world of empires and the modern world of technology and democracy...and it took a terrible human toll.

Henri Sattler, Field Marshall for long-running Dutch death metallers God Dethroned, is a man who definitely wants to see WWI get its due. With the album "Passiondale", God Dethroned focused on one titanic conflict of "the war to end all wars" and created a metal masterpiece. But Sattler was not finished with the conflict yet. Hence, we get the new album "Under The Sign of the Iron Cross", which looks at WWI as a whole. It is also the fastest and most brutal effort from God Dethroned yet.

I managed to hit the trenches during a Boche mustard gas bombardment to speak with Henri about his fascination with all things related to World War I, the lengthy career of God Dethroned and what the future may hold for this under-rated outfit. Stand by...communique follows...

WORMWOOD CHRONICLES: Henri, do you feel that God Dethroned's line-up has finally stabilized with the addition of Danny and Mike?

HENRI SATTLER: Yes i'm pretty sure that this will be our final line-up.

WC:  What elements do the new guys bring to the band that were maybe missing before?

HS:They don't bring anything that's been missing before, they're just very good musicians. Their skills have made the new album even better than I could wish for. I've never been dissatisfied with the quality of our former musicians, it's just that they didn't stay in the band.

WC: "Under The Sign of the Iron Cross" is the heaviest, angriest God Dethroned album I've ever heard. What fuelled the rage behind this album?

HS: The music just fits to the concept and the grim lyrics. Writing about World War One and the trench fights, the bombardments and poison gas attacks asked for the most intense and aggressive tunes possible.

WC: When you finished with the "Passiondale" album, did you already know the next record would also deal with World War I?

HS: No not immediately. I was really satisfied about how it turned out, but I didn't know then that the overall response on the album and the topics that we used were so great. When I found that out I decided to do another album about this war.

WC: What aspects of World War I do you explore on this new album that maybe you didn't on "Passiondale"?

HS: I choose all different topics. That was easy since there's so much to tell about this war. Some songs are based on a diary written by a soldier who fought in the trenches. Other songs are based on the battle of Verdun, The Red Baron and the Schlieffen Plan.

WC: When you do research for the last two records, do you actually visit the sites of the battles, talk with historians? What kind of research do you do for these records?

HS: I've been to Ypres and Passchendaele and there you can find tons of historical material, but mostly I read about the war.

WC: What have you learned about the history of World War I that maybe you didn't know before you started these recent projects?

HS: Basically everything. This war was just as unknown to me as to most other people nowadays. The war is overshadowed by World War Two, so most people don't know anything about it. So when I ran into it, I was amazed by all the things that had happened.

WC:Will you continue to explore World War I in the future or is "Under The Sign of the Iron Cross" the last time?

HS: That is undecided for the moment.

WC:  The band has undergone a lot of line-up turmoil in the last several years. Was there ever a point where you thought God Dethroned was near the end?

HS: There wasn't a lot of turmoil. Mostly when people left the band it was on good terms. Usually there are other reasons outside the musical aspect that make people decide to go seperate ways. Usually it's work or other priorities that people have.

WC: With the album "The Toxic Touch", you tried a slower, more melodic style, but the last two albums have been very fast and heavy. Was "The Toxic Touch" something you regretted doing?

HS: No, I definitely don't regret that album. It was just something that came out that way. A big influence on that was the fact that some of our members were more into technical and melodic stuff. Since that album was more a band project instead of me writing all the songs (as usually happens) it came out a lot more melodic.

WC: "Under The Sign of the Iron Cross" came out pretty quickly after "Passiondale". Did some of the "Iron Cross" songs date back to the "Passiondale" sessions?

HS: Nope, everything was written fresh from the start and in between tours. I just felt like writing a new album since I had nothing better to do anyway.

WC: What inspired you to write about The Red Baron? That's my favorite tune off the new record.

HS: Well, since World War One is such an unknown war, I felt like I had to come up with something that everybody would recognise. I'm pretty sure that everybody has heard about the Red Baron, even though many people don't know that he was a fighter pilot during that war. It was a great opportunity to write a song about him.

WC: Your vocals have become harsher and more gruff on the last two records. Is this the most comfortable style for you and will you stick with it in the future?

HS: I returned to my roots more and more over the last couple of albums. I didn't even have a specific idea about how my vocals should sound on the album. It just came out this way.

WC: How important is the addition of melody to your music? No matter how brutal the song, God Dethroned has always had a unique sense of melody in their music.

HS: Yes, I think that the melody makes the song. It's a pretty old school way of thinking, but in my opinion those songs will be remembered. A good melody always sticks in your head and makes the difference between a good song and just a song.

WC: The band has now been in existence 20 years. Did you imagine it would last so long when you first started out?

HS: No, definitely not. But somehow those years went by like nothing. And we had great fun.

WC:  What would you say the lasting legacy of God Dethroned is?

HS: No idea. I guess that would be a question to ask our fans. I'm far from objective when it comes down to our band.

WC:  What are your touring plans for 2011? Any plans to come to the States?

HS: No touring plans yet. We'll see if we make to the US. Would be great of course and it's one of my favorite countries to tour anyway.

WC: What was the last record/CD you picked up because you wanted to check out the band?

HS: The latest Behemoth album.

WC: What was the last band you saw in concert because you wanted to see them?

HS: Type O Negative and we happened to share the stage with them that night.

WC: Are there any good "Spinal Tap" stories of things going crazy for God Dethroned that you could share with us?

HS: Nope!

WC: Any last words to the faithful?

HS: Check out the new album! Cheers & grind!