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4.20 | 20 ratings | 3 reviews
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Album · 2012

Filed under Power Metal


1. Dominium Maris Baltici (0:29)
2. Lejonet från Norden (4:42)
3. Gott Mit Uns (3:15)
4. En Livstid i Krig (5:45)
5. 1648 (3:54)
6. Karolinens Bön (6:14)
7. Carolus Rex (4:53)
8. Ett Slag Färgat Rött (4:24)
9. Poltava (4:03)
10. Konungens Likfärd (4:09)
11. Ruina Imperii (3:21)

Total Time 45:09


- Joakim Brodén / vocals
- Oskar Montelius / guitars
- Rikard Sundén / guitars
- Daniel Mullback / drums
- Pär Sundström / bass
- Daniel Mÿhr / keyboards

Guest musicians:

- Christian Hedberg / Vocals (backing)
- Pelle Hindén / Vocals (backing)
- Hannele Junkala / Vocals (backing)
- Pontus Lekaregård / Vocals (backing)
- Sofia Lundström / Vocals (backing)
- Marie Mullback / Vocals (backing)
- Thomas Nyström / Vocals (backing)
- Åsa Österlund / Vocals (backing)
- Marie-Louise Strömqvist / Vocals (backing)
- Anders Sandström / Vocals (backing)
- Christer Gärds / Vocals (backing)
- Bosse Gärds / Vocals (backing)
- Peter Tägtgren / Vocals (Track 3)

About this release

Release date: May 25th, 2012
Label: Nuclear Blast

This is a concept album about the Swedish empire. Swedish historian Bengt Liljegren helped the band with the lyrics on the theme.

The track listing shown is for the original Swedish version of the album, which is a single disc album available only in Sweden. A single disc version of the album with lyrics in English is available with the Swedish song titles translated:

1. Dominium Maris Baltici
2. The Lion from the North
3. Gott mit uns
4. A Lifetime of War
5. 1648
6. The Carolean's Prayer
7. Carolus Rex
8. Killing Ground
9. Poltava
10. Long Live the King
11. Ruina Imperii

There's also a two-disc version of the album featuring both the English and Swedish versions.

Thanks to Wilytank for the addition and DippoMagoo, diamondblack for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

Kev Rowland
‘Carolus Rex’ was originally released in 2012, a concept album about Sweden’s 17th and 18th century empire, with a special focus on the rise and fall of Charles XII, the tragic king who devoted his whole life to war but could not prevent his empire’s downfall. They were the first Swedish metal band to gain platinum status in their home country, and it was recently certified as quadruple platinum, so it has been reissued with new artwork, additional tracks and even blu-ray discs. I always think of this as the beginning of the Sabaton at the top of their particular power metal tree, although strangely enough I have always preferred the albums which followed this.

The powerful riffs, strong anthems and vocals are of course all in place, but it never really has the spark which is so prevalent on the later works. Strangely enough, the live album which followed this and includes plenty of these songs is probably the one I would suggest people listen to first when coming across the band before moving on to ‘Heroes’ and ‘The Last Stand’. There are some bonus songs on the new version, including a Sabaton-ised version of “In The Army Now”. It may fit with their lyrical vision, but it certainly doesn’t fit musically! Made me smile though. Sabaton have released great albums throughout their career, and while I don’t think this is one of them it is still certainly worth investigating in the new expanded versions.
There are some albums by my favorite bands that I respect as much, if not more so, than I personally enjoy them. While it's hard to say that about a band I love as much as Sabaton, where all their albums entertain me greatly, that is somewhat the case with their fifth full length album Carolus Rex, which many of their fans consider to be their all time best. Obviously, I love the album as well, and definitely understand why some folks would think of it as a masterpiece. However, as much as I enjoy the album, I have to admit that personally, I find it doesn't quite entertain me as much as most other Sabaton albums, with even its predecessor, Coat of Arms, ranking slightly ahead of it for me. It's hard to talk negatively about a band as great as Sabaton, though, so don't get me wrong: There's definitely quite a few incredible tracks here, including three of my all time favorites, and overall it's certainly an album I'd take over the majority of all other power metal bands, as well as being miles ahead of the band's own weakest effort, The Last Stand.

In terms of ambition, Carolus Rex is certainly an impressive release, as while the band had done a concept album before in The Art of War, this one is a full scale narrative concept, chronicling the rise and fall of the Swedish Empire, specifically focusing on King Charles XII, from whom the album gets its title. Lyrically, I find the album quite interesting, as instead of focusing on different themes or on one particular theme but scattered across different battles, this release tells a full story and does quite a great job of it, with some very emotional moments, and it even has the first ballad the band released since their demo days, which unsurprisingly manages to be one of the best and most powerful tracks on the album. Another interesting thing about this album is that the band actually recorded two separate versions of it, with a “full” English version and a full Swedish version. It's not too surprising when bands do multiple versions of one or two tracks, but to have two “full” versions of one album in different languages is pretty awesome (and yes, those quotation marks are deliberate and I will explain their presence much further into the review.) Musically, the album continued where Coat of Arms left off, except it feels even more epic, with the symphonic keys being more dominant than ever, giving quite a few tracks a symphonic feel, and the band uses choir vocals quite a bit, to excellent effect. It's also quite the varied release, having a good mix of speedy tracks and slower tracks, as well a few of the most unique tracks the band has done in quite some time. For the most part, the songwriting is amazing as always, but I find this release has two weaker tracks which stick out just a bit, and help prevent the album from reaching the heights it could have. One last thing that must be noted, is that this was the last album for the band in its original form, with everyone except vocalist Joakim Brodén and bassist Pär Sundström leaving to form Civil War. As a swan song for them, it's an excellent album and a great way to go out, even if I don't consider it to be one of my personal favorites by the band.

Obviously, the vocals are not a problem, as Joakim Brodén sounds amazing as always, delivering his epic, deep, powerful and melodic vocals as smoothly as ever. The use of choir vocals is quite prominent and comes in many forms throughout the album, but these are always used to great effect and help enhance the choruses, which are of course outstanding as always.

One area that's almost never a problem for Sabaton is the songwriting, and as expected, that's largely the case with Carolus Rex as well, with the majority of the tracks offering up the same mix of heavy riffs, epic keyboard melodies, incredible vocals and huge choruses as always. The album certainly comes firing out of the gates, with a brief but nice orchestral intro giving way to “The Lion From the North”, one of the band's most symphonic influenced songs ever, with some pretty epic choral arrangements during the chorus. It charges along at a blazing fast pace, with heavy guitars and epic keys, and has a super fun and catchy chorus, further enhanced by those choirs, as well as an absolutely stunning section in the middle where the choirs fully take over, until Joakim briefly appears near the end to steal the show again. Overall, it's an explosive and stunning opening track that certainly sets the bar high for the rest of the album, and I'd even go as far as to say it ranks up there with “Ghost Divison” as one of my two favorite Sabaton openers ever.

The quality doesn't drop from there, though, with “Gott Mitt Uns”, being one of the band's most unique tracks to date, moving at a nice pace with some very smooth rhythms, while the guitars have a very folk feeling to them, which enhances the melodies and makes it more epic than it already is. Even Joakim attempts some slightly higher notes than normal and of course nails it, as always. The chorus is spectacularly catchy, and overall the track is another instant winner. Next is “A Lifetime of War”, an epic ballad enhanced by some symphonic elements, and of course dominated by an incredible, very emotional and powerful vocal performance from Joakim, with the chorus in particular being absolutely stunning. It's a beautiful track that really shows the potential in the concept of the album, and it only gets more and more epic and stunning as it goes along. it's definitely one of my all time favorites by the band, along with “Lion From the North”. Surprisingly, the quality still doesn't drop off much from there, with “1648” being the kind of super fast, hard hitting yet melodic and super addictive track the band specializes in, with energetic riffs and a very powerful, super catchy chorus.

Unfortunately, the quality does drop off a little bit on the next track, “The Carolean's Prayer”, the longest track on the album. It has an epic opening and it definitely has some great melodies and a pretty awesome chorus, as usual, but I find it to be one of the times where they tried so hard to recreate something like “Wolfpack” or “The Art of War” and came up just a tad short, with verses being a little bit on the boring side, at least by Sabaton standards. It's still a great track overall, with the symphonic elements enhancing it and the chorus really is amazing, but overall I find it to be just a bit below the usual Sabaton quality. One track that sure doesn't come up short is the title track, which starts off with some pretty epic drums, and only gets better from there. It's a bit unique, as it is one of their slower songs, but it has a more minimalist approach, throughout, dominated by vocals, drums and somewhat by keys in the background, but it doesn't have the full sound one would expect from a Sabaton track, instead slowing building up tension until chorus comes and completely blows your mind with how awesome and incredibly epic and badass it is. The vocal section near the end is also stunning, and overall it's a really awesome track, that stands as my third and last personal favorite on this album.

While the title track is the last absolutely incredible song here, the album doesn't lose much steam afterward, with “Killing Ground” being another winner, moving at a pretty fast pace and having some epic melodies, though it has its own unique feel to it, being a bit more of a harder hitting, classic metal feeling track compared to usual. The chorus is awesome, as is the big vocal section towards the end, and it's definitely another excellent track that stands out quite a bit. Next is “Poltava”, another speedy track that has some heavy riffs, excellent vocals and a great use of keyboards, as well as another super addictive and extremely catchy chorus. It's probably my favorite of the last few songs on the album. After that is a slow but very epic track in “Long Live the King”, which is pretty close to being a ballad, though it has just enough heaviness to not quite be one, I think. Either way, it's a slow moving track with some awesome melodies and another extremely powerful and emotional performance from Joakim, with the chorus being one of the highlights of the album, and overall it's an amazing track, for sure. Lastly, we have “Ruina Imperii”, which sadly ends the album on a bit of a disappointing note. Musically it just never did much for me, being the one and only Sabaton track where I find the keyboards to be slightly annoying and overdone, and while Joakim sounds great as always, it reminds me of “Wehrmacht”, in that the vocal melodies simply lack the kind of hooks and epic moments I expect from the band. It also feels odd that this the one and only track on the album to not be recorded in English, which is disappointing, because as someone who doesn't understand a word of Swedish, I can follow the entire rest of the album and then have no clue how the story ends, which is quite the letdown, indeed. Honestly, I think I'd go as far as to say that outside of their demos, this is my least favorite Sabaton track ever and it really brings the album down a bit. I haven't really been mentioning bonus tracks in these reviews, but one rather amusing one is here in the form of “Twilight of the Thunder God”, a cover of the Amon Amarth track, which officially confirms the theory I've always had, that if Amon Amarth were to ditch their growls and only use clean vocals, they'd essentially be a very hard hitting power metal band. Which would of course be awesome!

Overall, Carolus Rex is Sabaton's most ambitious album to date, being a full scale concept album telling the story of the rise and fall of The Swedish Empire, released in two languages. While one particularly weak track keeps it from being among my favorites from the band, it's a very entertaining album overall, with all the great melodies, choruses and epic war anthems fans have come to expect from the band, as well as some as their most emotional and powerful tracks. It'll never be my favorite Sabaton album as it is for some people, but overall it's still a must hear for fans of the band and it's an excellent album with three of my all time favorites by the band.

Carolus Rex is the charismatic Swedish Power Metal band Sabaton’s sixth full-length studio album. The Gold-Certified album was produced by Hypocrisy’s Peter Tägtgren (and indeed features some guest contributions from him) and released on Nuclear Blast Records in 2012, just before a radical line-up shift that saw all but two members (singer Joakim Brodén and bassist Pär Sundström) leave the band.

Its too early to tell at time of writing, but this magnificent album feels like a future classic to me. This is such a strong, perfectly crafted, and interesting and entertaining album that it really feels like something of a landmark. It is the culmination of everything the band had always been excelling at. Its got brilliant lyrics about interesting Swedish historical subjects with surprising depth and occasionally quite good characterization (the Title Track especially), its got fun riffs, a nice mix of tempos and superb confident melodic vocals. I can really see it going down as a genre classic in a few years time.

Tracks like “The Lion From The North,” “Killing Ground,” “Gott Mitt UNS” and the Title Track are among the best in the band’s repertoire, and there is absolutely no weak moments or filler. It’s a good length that feels substantial but doesn’t overstay its welcome, and there’s a fine balance of variety versus consistency.

Most of all; there’s just so many great choruses that will stick in your head for days. Sabaton have always been masters of the hook, and this catchy masterpiece is no exception. These are memorable songs that make you want to sing along. Combine that with the bombastic, big, grandiose sounding music and you’ve got some serious umph going on here.

Overall; Carolus Rex is an excellent, catchy album full of memorable, well-produced and well-written songs. If you are a fan of the band its an absolute must-have and if you are interested in checking the band out it’s a fine introduction. I highly recommend anyone with an interest in this sort of music to give them a try.

of the band its an absolute must-have and if you are interested in checking the band out it’s a fine introduction. I highly recommend anyone with an interest in this sort of music to give them a try.

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