SABATON - PRIMO VICTORIA - BLACK LODGE
Sabaton is a Swedish band with a keen interest in history and war. As much as the preferred subject matter here is contemporary this band's sound, music and vocals are reminiscent of Manowar and Running Wild. The comparisons are undeniable. Sabaton has a character mostly its own though which makes it all endurable. The band specializes in riff-oriented heavy metal although has sadly included background keyboards on certain tracks. The melodies work with the guitar solos, in particular, which help in that particular area. Another element worth pointing out is the easily understood words emanating from the comprehensible vocals. Be it fast or mid-paced songs, Primo Victorio is all about world war operations and more as heard on songs like Stalingrad, Panzer Battalion and Reign Of Terror. - Ali "The Metallian"
SABATON – THE LAST STAND – NUCLEAR BLAST
Few European bands have risen in popularity as much in recent years as Sabaton has. Yours truly saw them supporting Edguy once in Germany for the Rocket Ride tour, and I thought: “Well, not bad, but also not very original.” But they worked hard on improving their songwriting and toured like hell. The reward: now playing in major arenas in Europe that bands like Deep Purple or Iron Maiden would normally book. Sabaton has two things going against them for metal purists: they use keyboards – a lot. Also, they only write about war – mostly about historical battles or military campaigns. It is their band concept and limits them lyrically, but their songs are often captivating. The recent album only deals with famous last stands – songs titled Sparta, Blood Of Bannockburn, Rorke's Drift, Shiroyama – all are famous battles where one side was completely obliterated. The variety is great – Blood Of Bannockburn features bagpipes and a very optimistic atmosphere (the Scots were outnumbered against the English, but defeated them anyway), Rorke's Drift is fast and almost progressive in its structure, Shiroyama is epic (the last 500 Samurai were wiped out by guns and heavy opposition in that battle). The album's highlight, however, is the title track about a little-known battle of the Vatican Swiss Guard against marauding Holy Roman Empire soldiers in 1527. All 189 soldiers of the Swiss Guard died protecting Pope Clement VII. to help him escape to Castel Sant Angelo. The song is fantastic – it opens with church bells, rises up to an epic chorus, has a great melodic solo, and the final chorus is half an octave higher than the previous ones. Think of a mix between Demon at their best and Savatage during their most symphonic years. For those who do not know the band, singer Joakim Broden has a mid-range voice closer to people like Dio or Jeff Scott Soto. He rarely uses falsetto and is the counterpart to the melodic elements of the band. - Andreas Herzog