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God Dethroned's Henri Sattler: "We have always opposed the abuse of power and sexual abuse specifically when it comes down to religion. Those bastards always get away with it unpunished…"

Interview with Henri Sattler from God Dethroned
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 30 January 2020, 11:03 PM

Beyond the demand of the fans, there was a feeling that it was time to discuss aspects of old, stuff that still matters, with disregard to when, past, present or future. Setting a strong statement has always been a undeniable when it comes to the Dutch God Dethroned, whether through their earlier days, to their WWI epics and into the now, with their secretive "Illuminati", going back into channeling the hidden truths about religion. Steinmetal had the pleasure to talk to the band's leader, Henri Sattler, about going back to attack, songwriting, developing the music and onwards.

Hello Henri, it is quite an honor to have you for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine, how have you been doing sir?

It’s my pleasure to do this interview with you. I have been quite busy this past year with the writing and recording of the Illuminati album and lately with all the interviews, but it’s been so great to see so many positive reactions from the press on our new album.

To be honest, I have been expecting this. Though I truly enjoyed the World War I theme last three albums, there was an inner craving for your earlier brutal criticism over religion. God Dethroned’s new album, “Illuminati”, provides the answer for that craving. Other than the fans’ demand, when did you feel that enough is enough with World War I conceptual?

Back in the day when we did the "Passiondale" album, the first one of the trilogy it was a quite successful move to go into the WWI theme. That’s why I decided to do another one, "Under the Sign of the Iron Cross" and at that time I made the promise to our fans to make it a trilogy. Then we went into the 3 year break and I still felt I had to keep my promise, so we made the "World Ablaze" album. By that time, I felt I had said everything there was to say about that war and felt relieved that I didn’t have to go on with it. In the meantime, our fans started requesting us to go back to the dark side again with lyrics about religion and the occult, so I basically was a no brainer to do so. It felt like a total relief to be able to write about whatever came to my mind. This time we added the Illuminati and freemasonry to the concept and it seems people really value that.

While the larger sum of bands of God Dethroned’s spectrum usually confront Christianity from the front, you chose a sort of a secret doorway, mangling the secretive, and I might add mysterious, society of the Illuminati order. Truth be told, it is like the FreeMasons, their intentions are unknown, yet a salvo of stories and half-truths have been established over the years. What drew you to Illuminati?

Like many other people I also was drawn towards the mysticism around the Illuminati cult. I did a little bit of research and found out that they were basically a secret society out of necessity to gain certain freedom. Freedom to read the books they wanted to read for example, because many books were forbidden by the reigning Christian organizations of that time like the Jesuits. The Illuminati tried to break the rules from within, in secrecy instead of being open about it. Just to stay safe. I took this concept further by stating you could infiltrate leading world organizations and replace the ones who are pulling the strings, in this case to eliminate religion as a whole…

Does it really take a mastermind to take over the world and reshape it without religion? Do you still find religion as you did back in the days of God Dethroned’s earlier journey against it?

I have always been and still am against organized religion. I’m not against people who believe because it’s usually on a personal level. We have always opposed the abuse of power and sexual abuse specifically when it comes down to religion. Those bastards always get away with it unpunished, simply because they are above the law. As long as that stays the same I will rebel against them by my lyrics. And I don’t care if people think I'm an idiot or not. This is how I see it.

In connection to the whole “Illuminati” album as a perspective, and upon its songs, do you make analogies to events that have been happening in the world lately? Is there a basis to your anti policy of religion due to the greater damages made by religion?

No I don’t use specific or recent events that happened in the Christian world, because it’s always the same thing that happens. Like I said in your previous question, there’s always abuse coming from their side. Covered by hypocrisy and falsehood. When I write my lyrics, I write them in a way so everybody can create their own image in their head while listening/reading them. To some it may mean nothing, but I know from stories from some of our fans that many find something in there of great value to them.

After being rather consistent throughout the last three albums musically, “Illuminati” may as well serve as a newly discovered land for new God Dethroned listeners, and with little tweaks and surprises for veteran followers of the band. How do you find the musical approach made on “Illuminati”?

We tried to bring extra layers to the music. As usual I try to come up with strong melodies that stay in your head, but maintain a certain amount of extremity in our music as well. On this album we added a lot of keyboards to the music to create certain depth and darkness and lift the atmosphere. We did the same with the vocals by adding choirs and singing and grunting at the same time. I believe it made the album a lot more interesting. And don’t worry, GD is and always will stay a guitar oriented band.

How do you find your development as a songwriter after the creation of “Illuminati”? Would you say that you found it a personal challenge? Did you have an inner wish to come with both new lyrical concept and evolved music direction?

Somehow it took me a few years to get to this level. As soon as the guitar riffs are coming out of my brain it usually goes fast and we have the basis for an album very soon. It has been like this for all my life. It’s just that this time we managed to come with stronger ideas than ever before I would say. During the recording process all the melodies come and we experiment a lot to get a result we really like. I also think that we went beyond the realms of death and black metal this time. It’s just very difficult for me to label it, so we leave that to our fans.

Elements such as various vocal arrangements, which aren’t necessarily growls and grunts, keyboards, all creating a kind of sweltering drama of sheer aggression. Would you say that God Dethroned of “Illuminati” came to punish, angry as ever, yet still a pictorial of dramatization?

I think the best answer to this question is to say that it just happened. When Michiel and I laid the foundation for the songs it was just rhythm guitars and drums, the rest just evolved later by itself while recording the album. I like to have spontaneity during such a process instead of having worked everything into detail beforehand.

Though it has an aggressive manner, I found “Illuminati” to be rather melodic in comparison to its recent predecessors. Not necessarily the soloing, yet melodic lines of both guitars, halo of keyboards and vocals. How do you find the implementation of melodies in “Illuminati”?

I think melodies are the key elements in any song whether it is disco or death metal. Without melody there is no song to me. It’s just my personal taste I guess. I create melodies on the spot. I let the recording with rhythm guitars run and I play along, not knowing what I'm playing, but just feeling and listening and absorbing the atmosphere in the music. I can go with this for hours until I know I have the best melody possible for the song. And so I work on for days and weeks until I'm completely happy.

I believe that “Book Of Lies” is one of the album’s strongest suits, listening to it with headphones is a must in order to capture the melodic guitars dancing with the keyboards. How do you find this track? What was the vision behind its creation?

I also think that this song is one of the strongest when it comes down to the melody and the feeling that it generates. Again there’s many layers in the back, so it will take some serious listening with or without headphones to discover everything that’s hidden in this song. We made a video for this song and it will be presented by Metal Blade on the day of the release on February 7. The hardest part when writing this song was to get the correct tempo and beat. Michiel and I have been struggling for a while to find the right way of playing this song, but it turned out great in the end.

With blinks of Post Metal orientations comes the wicked “Gabriel”, based on the movie “The Prophecy”. Musically, I found it to be intriguing, as it set uncanny aspects to God Dethroned’s music. Would you say that this sort of orientation would be a guide for next releases? As for the song’s influence, why this particular movie?

I think this was the first song I wrote for the album. I just love the movie and the words were just perfect for the lyrics. The atmosphere it creates is just phenomenal. I think what I discovered when writing this album is how to make the prefect mix between slower and faster songs and how to make good use of all the extras like keyboards and vocals, so this album could very well become some sort of blueprint for the future.

You recently put out a video for the self-titled track, which turned out to be quite understandable, especially with the first scene at the church and ending with the demise of the priest. What can you tell about the video’s creation? Was the general idea simply to shock?

The ideas for the videos came from me as well. We fight against the abuse of power by the church. The video is a statement against sexual abuse by the church. The second and third videos are interlinked with this one as well. I’m talking about the videos for "Spirit of Beelzebub" and "Book of Lies".

Recently you recruited the highly skilled guitarist of Apophys, Dave Meester. With his band out of commission, you got yourself a talent. What is your appreciation of his skills? Was he able to contribute to the songwriting of “Illuminati”?

Dave replaced Mike during our European tour with Suffocation and Belphegor. After that tour we decided to keep Dave in the band. Not because we didn’t like Mike, but simply because we knew Mike wouldn’t be able to make it on more tours in the future and we didn’t want to look for a different guitarist every time again. The album was already recorded by then, but there was still time for Dave to record his own guitar solos. He asked about it, because then he had something of his own on the album and wouldn’t have to play other peoples guitar solos all the time. We of course understood this very well so we let him do his thing. As you can hear on the album, he did an amazing job.

Soon enough it will be three decades of God Dethroned, looking back to your early works up until today, what maintains your motivation to continue to create? To push forward without looking sideways?

Yes, this year it’s 3 decades, but that doesn’t mean that my hunger to create is diminishing. Not at all I would say. I think that as long as I will stay a musician I will always try to do better with the band. The day I lose that feeling, it is time to quit.

What do you think are the main challenges for God Dethroned, concerning its music alongside the Metal market and supporting “Illuminati”?

It is not so easy to reach a really big audience as a death metal band. And especially not when your band name is God Dethroned. There’s many new subgenres in Metal that are very popular nowadays, so it has become harder to find your space, but there’s always space for quality bands. In that light I think I can be confident about our future. At least our near future.

Other than the tour recently announced, which is pretty fantastic, where it is expected for folks to catch God Dethroned live in 2020?

We will play some festivals here and there this year and definitely do another European tour this year as well as tours in Latin America and North America. When all goes well we will continue the touring schedule like this from now on.

Henri, many thanks for this interview, it was a pleasure to have you in for it. I wish you all the best with the new release, you once again made your mark.

Thank you very much for the interview, it was a good one!

Cheers, Henri
God Dethroned


 



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