After a split which saw four members of Sabaton walk away from the band, the pressure to present a strong album has never been higher. Despite touring with the band and featuring on a DVD, this is the new guitar players trial by fire along with the introduction of the new drummer, Hannes van Dahl. It’s also a stressful time for primary song writer, Joakim Broden, who, in a way, has the reputation of these new musicians resting on his shoulders, if the album flops, the new guys will get the blame.
Luckily a flop is exactly what this isn’t.
It’s a slight departure from the Sabaton sound we have known for the last decade or so with the keys taking a backseat instead of being at the front with the guitars. Instead it’s a heavier direction, perhaps the heaviest Sabaton release to date. The traditional elements of Sabaton are still there of course, the choirs, the catchy choruses, the three minute history lessons, but they’re presented in a slightly different package.
Smoking Snakes has a feel of The Art of War mixed with Coat of Arms, yet the Ballad of Bull is relatively untouched ground. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of the Guns n Sabatons style ballad at first but by the end I was sold (I’m a sucker for a big power chord).
Inmate 4859, the spiritual successor to The Final Solution, is one of the darkest sounding tracks with the choir almost giving it a symphonic edge, albeit it briefly.
Most of you will have heard To Hell And Back by now and are familiar with its folky direction. As a fan of all things folk metal this was a pleasant surprise. Although walking around whistling that melody line is starting to give me a headache.
Resist and Bite, the latest single, is as catchy though without the whistling. It’s perhaps destined to be the song that transitions the best from studio to stage, under Far From The Fame. Some will recognise this as it has been circulating for a while since it was performed live. It has the bouncy edge to get the crowd jumping, a catchy chorus to sing along with and an obvious point for Broden to get the crowd going with a few “HEY’s.”
Sabaton are one of those bands that really come into their own live. As powerful as the songs are on an album, when performed in front of a crowd the tracks take on a whole new level. In a way, this is the true test of a good Sabaton album, if the songs sound as good, if not better on stage, then it’s a success story.
7734 is one of my favourite Sabaton tracks and one I’ve always felt was underrepresented so it was a nice surprise to learn of the rerecording. I’m not sure what version I prefer, I like the original for that bouncy heavy riff, yet this version has a much more epic sounding keyboard backing.
As a website that ripped its name straight out of a Manowar song, I don’t think anyone would be surprised to hear how eagerly I was anticipating Man Of War. When it turned out to be a Manowar version of Metal Machine/Crue/Ripper my day was thoroughly made.
As you’ve probably come to realise, I’m a bit of fan which may bias my opinion a bit, but to hell with it (and back, bad um tshhh). The band has bounced back from what could have been a career crippling break and the reputations of the new additions are more than safe. Bring on the tour.
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