SABATON – Heroes
Purveyors of military/ war themed power metal, it is little wonder Sweden’s Sabaton are rising to heights rarely seen in today’s fickle scene. Headlining festivals for over half a million people in Poland, attaining gold, platinum and top ten charting in various parts of Europe – the demand for these gentlemen is more than evident, and they seem to chug along despite retooling 3 members of the band during 2012-13 because of their relentless road warrior schedule.
"Heroes" is the seventh studio album, and a tidy affair at that as the 10 songs whirl by in just under 37 minutes. For vocalist Joakim Brodén and bassist Pär Sundström, the easiest thing to do at this point would be to coast on past accolades and create material that is consistent with classics such as "Ghost Division" and "Primo Victoria". But given the new, fresh blood of guitarist Thobbe Englund, guitarist Chris Rörland, and drummer Hannes Van Dahl, I’m not surprised that the quintet confidently stride into new shades of their established power platform.
Let’s start with "To Hell and Back" – the Celtic/ flute oriented folk keyboard strains lifting this track to stratospheric body movement, as I for one witnessed the instantaneous shouting and bouncing of audience members when this song premiered on their North American tour w/ ReVamp and Iced Earth. "No Bullets Fly" is more of a melodic metal number, a lot of the guitar chord and harmony choices in line with Judas Priest or Gamma Ray as Joakim commands the aural landscape through his vibrant, slightly accented English inflections. Another highlight "Resist and Bite" includes a lot of back and forth guitar/ drum tradeoffs in a mid-tempo march template – the chorus and main verses tailor made for audience participation (‘all alone… with our guard!’).
Even when a slower number such as "The Ballad of Bull" comes in, Sabaton choice to use natural piano and build through tender emotion instead of pure pomp and bombast. My favorites come and go as I’ve aired "Heroes" a good hundred times – currently the snappy drum-oriented "Far From the Fame" and culturally hypnotic "Inmate 4859" resonate the most for me. Ultimately, "Heroes" throws another ten songs into the Sabaton repertoire, and should go down comfortably with the growing legions.
Enjoy the war theme stories, live for the songs, and be sure to seek out Sabaton when they perform in your local area – they are primed for the big time.