SABATON — Heroes

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SABATON - Heroes cover
4.80 | 7 ratings | 2 reviews
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Album · 2014

Filed under Power Metal
By SABATON

Tracklist

1. Night Witches (3:01)
2. No Bullets Fly (3:37)
3. Smoking Snakes (3:14)
4. Inmate 4859 (4:26)
5. To Hell and Back (3:26)
6. The Ballad of Bull (3:53)
7. Resist and Bite (3:27)
8. Soldier of 3 Armies (3:38)
9. Far from the Flame (3:47)
10. Hearts of Iron (4:28)

Total Time 36:57

Limited Edition bonus Tracks:
1. 7734 (3:32)
2. Man of War (3:47)
3. For Whom the Bell Tolls (Metallica cover) (5:22)
4. En hjältes väg (Raubtier cover) (4:26)
5. Out of Control (Battle Beast cover) (3:36)

Line-up/Musicians

- Pär Sundström / Bass
- Joakim Brodén / Keyboards, Vocals
- Thobbe Englund / Guitars
- Chris Rörland / Guitars
- Hannes Van Dahl / Drums

Guest musicians:

- Christer Gärds / Vocals (choirs)
- Anders Sandström / Vocals (choirs)
- Bosse Gärds / Vocals (choirs)
- Pontus Lekaregård / Vocals (choirs)
- Pelle Hindén / Vocals (choirs)
- Marie Mullback / Vocals (choirs)
- Åsa Österlund / Vocals (choirs)
- Hannele Junkala / Vocals (choirs)
- Sofia Lundström / Vocals (choirs)
- Marie-Louise Strömqvist / Vocals (choirs)
- Philip Lindh / Grand piano (Track 6), Programming, Orchestral arrangements
- Daniel Beckman / Programming, Orchestral arrangements
- Pär Hulkoffgarden / Vocals (backing) (Track 13)
- Ken Kängström / Guitars (additional)
- Snowy Shaw / Vocals (backing) (Track 15)

About this release

Release date: May 16th, 2014
Label: Nuclear Blast

Thanks to diamondblack for the addition and DippoMagoo, adg211288 for the updates

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SABATON HEROES reviews

Specialists/collaborators reviews

Kev Rowland
This 2014 release was the first since the stunning ‘Swedish Empire Live’ set the previous year. For me that was Sabaton at their stunning and pummelling best, so I was always intrigued to understand if they had managed to keep up the pace and power when back in the studio, but I needn’t had worried. In some ways Sabaton have a very simple formula, research battles or wars and use that as a basis for the lyrics, pit that against crunching power metal with a few keyboards and an over the top choir to provide backing vocals and that’s it. Simple, eh? Well, if it was that simple then they would have been copied for years, but as it is the Swedes are a long way ahead of any pack that are daft enough to try to chase them. Hannes Van Dahl is as solid as a rock at the back, but also knows how to drive the band forward in a manner not too dissimilar to the mighty Gene Hoglan. He ties in with Pär Sundström to create the foundation of the sound, a driving rumble that allows guitarists Thobbe Englund and Chris Rörland to either keep on the riff, solo independently or together. They are sometimes just keeping it tight and piledriver Judas Priest heavy, and at others they are playing around the melodies. Added to that are the keyboards and incredible vocals of Joakim Brodén, whose voice seems to be as broad as it is deep, so that one feels that one can saddle the notes coming out of his throat and go for a ride. Add to that the choir providing the perfect backdrop, and yet again this album is a real thing of beauty.

Sabaton have proved to be incredibly consistent since they released their debut back in 2006, taking power metal, blending it with some symphonic elements, and then mixing it into a whole new level. Simply put, there is no-one else quite like Sabaton, and that in itself is quite a statement. It may have taken me too many years to get across this album, but I am so very glad that I did, and if you enjoy metal then you should too.
DippoMagoo
Some albums are challenging and complex, meant to force the listener to spend several hours of their time with them, before fully opening themselves up. On the other side of the spectrum are albums which immediately engage the listeners from the first play, but do little to keep them interested over a long period of time. And then there is the rare masterclass album that manages to instantly impress on first listen, while still proving to be just as addictive and mindblowing as ever some 30 listens later. Honestly, I don't usually get to the 20 listen mark with most modern albums, not because I don't enjoy them enough, but because I spend so much time listening to various new albums every year, finding the time to go beyond that point is tough, and yet one such album that has managed to not only pull that feat, but go further and approach the 35 listen mark in less than four years, is Heroes, the sixth full length album from Sabaton, which also happens to be the last of their albums I have left to review, at least until their inevitable next album is released (and as of the time of this review it's already said to be in the works.) While the band has always been one of my favorites, with The Art of War in particular standing out as an exceptional album, Heroes is by far my most played of all their albums, and is also by far my most played overall since I started tracking that stat back in 2013.

Following the comparatively more complex and ambitious Carolus Rex, Heroes is a very simple, very quick and to the point kind of album, clocking in at just under 37 minutes (excluding bonus tracks,) and it's definitely the kind of album that works best when played around 3-5 times in sitting, so the songs have enough time to pound their way into your head and never let up. I've always found Sabaton's music to be extremely fun and catchy, even as far as power metal goes, but Heroes is by far their catchiest and most addictive album ever, with only two songs going past the four minute mark, and every song on the album is designed to kick in, impress with their fun riffs, melodies and choruses, and then end before even beginning to drag on. This is an album that's all about the flow, as it moves seamlessly from highlight to highlight, with no less than amazing moments on the entire album, and not even a single second is wasted. It does somewhat continue trend Carolus Rex started, of Sabaton moving more towards slower songs, but unlike its immediate successor, The Last Stand, which reaches a point where I get a bit tired of all slower songs after a while, on this album the track placement is so perfect, I'm always getting exactly what I want at every point of the album, with the faster songs being spaced out enough and slower songs kicking in exactly when they should, with even “The Ballad of Bull” kicking in at the absolute perfect point just past the halfway mark. While it's not a full scale concept album like Carolus Rex or The Art of War, the album does have a over arching concept, with each track being focused less on battles and more on individuals and squads who performed some particularly heroic deeds in battle. This leads to a very cheery tone to the album overall, which fits the music perfectly, and when you combine these lyrics with the catchiness, epic melodies and pure fun of a Sabaton album, you know you have an instant classic on your hands. I don't even need to give a full paragraph for vocals at this point, as my thoughts are obvious, as once again Joakim Brodén is absolutely perfect and the accompanying choirs are also amazing and help makes the choruses even more than they already are.

Moving on to songwriting, then, and that's where this album absolutely knocks it out of the park, without a single less than perfect song to be found. I already mentioned the album having a perfect flow, so it's no surprise that things get off to an explosive start with the super hard hitting, incredibly addictive opener “Night Witches” quickly pounding its way into your head. This track is of course about an all women military squad, which is pretty cool. After a brief tease at its chorus, the riffs kick in quickly and the track speeds up, moving at a frantic pace, with Joakim and the choirs leading the way, bringing us to one of the catchiest and most pure fun choruses I've ever heard, and every time it appears throughout the track I just get more and more into it every time. There's a really nice guitar solo in the middle, and overall it's simply a super fast, heavy and just plain ass kicking opener, that ranks right up there with “Ghost Divsion” and “Lion from the North”.

After that incredible opening, “No Bullets Fly” keeps the momentum going, moving at a reasonably fast, though slightly more relaxed pace, with some excellent melodic leads. This album on the whole strikes a nice balance between the heavier sound of their earlier albums and the really light, keyboard driven sound of The Last Stand, and this track is a perfect example of that, as it's not as heavy or intense as some of the band's work, but it still has some excellent guitar work, including an excellent solo and some nice riffs during the chorus, and it certainly has more speed and energy to it than most tracks on the latter album, while still having some excellent melodies and of course an absolutely epic and unforgettable chorus. Next is the unbelievably cheery and upbeat track “Smoking Snakes”, one of the most triumphant sounding metal songs I've ever heard, with some incredibly happy sounding melodies, while still hitting pretty hard with its riffs. It moves at a slightly faster pace than “No Bullets Fly”, though still not quite as fast as “Night Witches” and it's another super addictive track, with Joakim and the choirs completely stealing show during the chorus, where the title of the album appears, and it's possibly the very best chorus on the entire album, while the bridge section is only even more epic. This is a case where the song would easily be my favorite even on the absolute best albums by just about any other band, and yet here it's just one among ten masterpieces, which are pretty much all impossible for me to rank.

The pace slows down a bit with “Inmate 4859”, the darkest track on the album. It's a slower paced, more keyboard driven track, though keyboards take a more atmospheric sound to them than on most Sabaton tracks, and even the choirs are used to add a bit of a haunting feel to the song, with Joakim singing in an even lower pitch than normal. The track is very subdued, but still has some pretty heavy riffs as well some awesome melodies, especially during the instrumental section in the middle, and of course the chorus, while more laid back than usual, is still absolutely incredible. After that is the lead single “To Hell and Back”, which has a pretty upbeat and playful sound at the start, before settling into a nice groove, settling into a mid paced rhythm, with some fun verses where Joakim steals the show, before opening up for a huge, unforgettable chorus that stands as another one of the album's best. It's certainly energetic, fun and super catchy, making it the perfect choice for a single, and it only gets better during the final run through at the end.

Perhaps the most controversial track on the album is “The Ballad of Bull”, a track I've seen many people criticize, but it's actually one of my absolute favorites. It's a beautiful piano ballad, where Joakim's voice gets to shine throughout, and while the melodies, vocals, piano sounds and chorus already make it epic, the lyrics also help make it a big highlight. The track is about Australian Corporal Leslie “Bull Allen”, who saved twelve Americans during World War II, and hearing this amazing tale set to music and being sung so amazing by Joakim just makes all the more inspiring and epic. Plus, anyone who says it's out of place on the album clearly needs to look at the album name,“Heroes”, read the lyrics, and then understand exactly why the track fits in perfectly.

The pace picks up again after that, with “Resist and Bite” being another mid paced track that has a ton of energy to it, opening with a light intro with just Joakim and some lead guitars, before everything else kicks in over time. The verses are fun enough, but again it's the chorus that stands out for being super addictive, melodic and catchy, with an amazing use of choral vocals. It's a track like the title track of Carolus Rex, which uses minimalism in very effective ways, and is definitely another great pick for a single. The last speedy track on the album is “Soldier of 3 Armies”, a typically hard hitting speedy track from Sabaton, with a great mix of keyboards, lead guitars and vocals. The riffs hit hard, the melodies are great and the chorus is amazing, super melodic and catchy as always, making it another instant winner. After that is the slower paced but super epic “Far from the Fame”, which opens up with some nice drum rhythms, before settling into a nice groove. It again has some nice lead guitars, while also being one of the lighter, more melodic and more keyboard driven tracks on the album, with of course another stunning chorus, an amazing guitar solo in the second half. Lastly, we have “Hearts of Iron”, which opens up with a huge choral section that briefly teases at its chorus, before slowing down and settling into a nice groove, with some great drum work and awesome vocals from Joakim. It's another surprisingly laid back track for being the closing track, but then the chorus hits and is absolutely gigantic, with some incredible choir vocals, some insanely catchy vocal lines and an incredible performance from Joakim. In the middle of the track is an unbelievably epic choral section that brings the epic factor to its absolute maximum, and overall the track is the perfect ending to a perfect album.

While The Art of War stands as the best, most cohesive and possibly the most varied Sabaton album to date, Heroes has overtaken it to become my favorite, due to its super addictive, quick and to the point tracks, which strike the perfect balance between immediately engaging and still holding up perfectly after 30+ listens. It's by far the most addictive album I've heard since I've been actively listening to metal, and it offers a perfect mix of speed, energy, heavy riffs, great melodies and incredibly catchy and epic choruses, while also taking it to the next level with some inspiring and uplifting lyrics. I doubt Sabaton will ever top this album for me, but that's okay, because it would take a Timeless Miracle for any power metal band to pull that off again, I think.

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