I liked Where Iron Crosses Grow a lot, so my expectations to the Swedish death metal machine Dismember was fairly huge. Unfortunately The God That Never Was quickly turned out to be a rather bumpy ride.
Musically Dismember haven't changed much during the years, and I'm thankful for that. However, the band doesn't appear to have quite the same energy and nerve as earlier on. The music is still dirty, aggressive and fairly varied. It also starts out good with the first couple of tracks, but some of the songs, like for instance "Autopsy" and "Trail of the Dead", tend to be rather tiresome after a while. After a couple of listens, I found myself repeatedly jumping back and forth between "Time Heals Nothing" and "Where No Ghost is Holy" which both have the well-known Dismember trademark sound of the aggressive and the melodic. Another track that immediately sank in was the instrumental almost Iron Maiden-like "Phantoms [of the Oath]". The twin lead work on that track is just stunning. Songs like "The God That Never Was", "Shadows of the Mutilated" and "Blood For Paradise" also reek of classic Dismember, but for some reason Where Iron Crosses Grow appeared better. The God That Never Was most of all sounds like a stew of the band's other material.
The production isn't very powerful, and it does wear off on the songs. It's clear that Fred Estby has tried to capture the sound from their early albums, but it doesn't sound that convincing. A thicker guitar sound would probably have made The God That Never Was a much more enjoyable effort. Overall The God That Never Was is a good album, but it's far from being the best that the Swedish death metal institution have released.