SABATON

Power Metal • Sweden
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Sabaton is a Swedish power metal band, formed in 1999 by vocalist Joakim Brodén and bassist Pär Sundström. They play a very epic brand of power metal, which often includes symphonic elements and most of their albums contain heavy metal elements on a few songs. All their albums contain lyrics that deal with themes of war, and particularly stories about historic battles, especially WWII.

They soon brought in Rikard Sundén (guitars), Oskar Montelius (guitars) and Richard Larsson (drums), though Larsson was replaced by Daniel Mullback early on. In 2000 and 2001 they recorded two demo tapes, that ended up being released together in a compilation titled Fist for Fight. They were quickly signed by Underground Symphony, who released a digipak version of Fist for Fight in 2002. Shortly after, they began work on what was meant to be their first full length album, titled Metalizer. Due to complications with the
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SABATON Discography

SABATON albums / top albums

SABATON Primo Victoria album cover 3.40 | 12 ratings
Primo Victoria
Power Metal 2005
SABATON Attero Dominatus album cover 4.50 | 6 ratings
Attero Dominatus
Power Metal 2006
SABATON The Art Of War album cover 4.42 | 9 ratings
The Art Of War
Power Metal 2008
SABATON Coat Of Arms album cover 4.34 | 8 ratings
Coat Of Arms
Power Metal 2010
SABATON Carolus Rex album cover 4.18 | 16 ratings
Carolus Rex
Power Metal 2012
SABATON Heroes album cover 4.80 | 7 ratings
Heroes
Power Metal 2014
SABATON The Last Stand album cover 4.46 | 4 ratings
The Last Stand
Power Metal 2016
SABATON The Great War album cover 4.71 | 6 ratings
The Great War
Power Metal 2019

SABATON EPs & splits

SABATON live albums

SABATON World War Live: Battle of the Baltic Sea album cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
World War Live: Battle of the Baltic Sea
Power Metal 2011
SABATON SWEDISH EMPIRE LIVE album cover 5.00 | 1 ratings
SWEDISH EMPIRE LIVE
Power Metal 2013
SABATON Live on the Sabaton Cruise 2014 album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Live on the Sabaton Cruise 2014
Power Metal 2015

SABATON demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

SABATON re-issues & compilations

SABATON Fist For Fight album cover 3.00 | 1 ratings
Fist For Fight
Power Metal 2000
SABATON Metalizer album cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
Metalizer
Power Metal 2007
SABATON Metalus Hammerus Rex album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Metalus Hammerus Rex
Power Metal 2012

SABATON singles (10)

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Masters of the World
Power Metal 2007
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Cliffs Of Gallipoli
Power Metal 2008
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Coat of Arms
Power Metal 2010
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Screaming Eagles
Power Metal 2010
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A Lifetime of War
Power Metal 2012
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The Lion from the North
Power Metal 2012
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Carolus Rex
Power Metal 2012
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40:1
Power Metal 2013
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To Hell and Back
Power Metal 2014
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Resist and Bite
Power Metal 2014

SABATON movies (DVD, Blu-Ray or VHS)

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Swedish Empire Live
Power Metal 2013
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Heroes on Tour
Power Metal 2016

SABATON Reviews

SABATON The Great War

Album · 2019 · Power Metal
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Kev Rowland
The Swedes are back, doing what they do very well indeed, providing bombastic power metal with lyrics pertaining to their favourite subject, war. This time around we have two versions to choose from, namely a standard release and the “History Edition”. The difference between the two is the former has just the music, while the latter has some spoken explanation between each piece so that the listener has some of the background. I was somewhat surprised to see they had done this, as I would have thought the History Edition was the way to go, but I guess there are some who just want the music, and others who will have to buy both so in terms of sheer commerciality it makes good sense.

The narrator is Bethan Dixon Bate, and she provides just the right amount of gravitas to the role, not adding any excitement as there is no need – as soon as she finishes peaking the war machine which is Sabaton are there to take over. This is another band who always produce a huge sound, with singer Joakim Brodén both at the head of the band and also at the helm as he is tasked with ensuring the sound is just right. I note with interest that one of the supporting singers is Floor Jansen, I bet she had a blast. Multi-tracked backing vocals makes one think that at times they have a huge choir supporting them, and they would need to be big indeed to cope with the over the top (boys we go!) approach. But even though it is a huge sound there is always a tremendous sense of melody, and music which really grooves along. This is metal with purpose, not a direct assault to the sense but rather one that ensures the listeners keep turning up the volume so the neighbours can also join in the fun.

The guitars are quite intricate, while the rhythm section keeps it nailed to the floor, and all one can do is smile even though the subject is no laughing matter whatsoever. Sabaton have long set out their stall, as they play a certain type of metal with a certain type of lyric, but there is no-one in this particular field who can live with them. Sabaton continue to deliver the goods some 20 years on, and long may it continue.

SABATON The Great War

Album · 2019 · Power Metal
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DippoMagoo
Sometimes, even my favorite bands will leave me a bit disappointed, which happened with Swedish power metal band Sabaton in 2016. They’ve been among a short list of my few absolute favorite metal bands for close to 10 years now, so I always have sky high expectations for them, which means even an album that could merely be called “very good” instead of “incredible” will leave me feeling somewhat disappointed. Sadly, that’s what happened with their sixth full length release, The Last Stand, as while it was still a highly enjoyable release, with a few particularly amazing tracks, it felt a little low in energy and inspiration compared to normal, and it had some songs that simply never grabbed me the way the band usually does. Despite that slight setback, I was excited when I heard the band had a new release coming in 2019, and I was hoping they could get back on track and blow me away once again. Early indications, from the first single as well as hearing the concept of the album, had me very optimistic, and now that I’ve listened to their seventh full length release, The Great War, 20+ times, I can officially say that whatever happened last time did not happen again, as this release represents the Swedes at their best, most energetic and most fun, while also having some truly powerful and awe inspiring moments!

There was a slight lineup change in between albums, with guitarist Thobbe Englund departing and being replaced by Reinxeed singer/multi-insturmentalist Tommy Johansson, who of course does a fantastic job, as always. I’m not sure if it’s specifically because of his presence, or just a general burst of inspiration, but the performances on this release feel even stronger than normal, with some otherworldly good melodies at times, as well as some of the most inspired solos I’ve ever heard from the band. They’ve always been known to have some incredible memorable choruses, but on The Great War, even the verses are infectious, as well as the bridges. In fact, there really isn’t a moment on the entire album that isn’t memorable or epic in some way or another. With all that being said, though, it’s still fairly similar to their previous few releases stylistically, in that the tempos are generally a bit more restrained compared to some power metal bands. In fact, the tempo rarely goes full speed on this release, aside from on a couple tracks, but instead, most tracks end up feeling fairly upbeat and move along at a pretty nice pace, without fully speeding up. It very much reminds me of Heroes, with how the songs are short, straight to the point and move along at a good pace, with each track having plenty of memorable moments, while all going by quickly enough to let the album flow from highlight to highlight.

As with many of their previous releases, The Great War is a concept album, and in that regard, the band has really gone above and beyond with how well they’ve covered their main theme. Obviously, all Sabaton songs (with a few exceptions) are about historic battles in one way or another, with most albums tending to focus on one specific theme. This time around, they’ve chosen to make an entire album focused on World War I, which is obviously a very important, logical topic for the band to tackle, and they’ve done it perfectly, covering many important moments, as well as historical figures, units and the like. While all their albums have very good lyrics, I think this one might have their best yet, just due to the important of the topic, as well as because of how well they’ve covered it. The album really feels like it flows together perfectly, and the concept helps everything to feel unified, while still allowing each track to stand out in their own way, which is pretty much exactly what I want from a concept album. Obviously, the production is as perfect as always, all musicians do an amazing job as always, and Joakim Brodén’ deep, powerful yet melodic vocals are as epic and amazing as always.

While I’ll always love Sabaton’s core sound and Joakim’s voice, their songwriting tends to be one of their biggest strengths, as well, so I was hoping The Great War would deliver in that area, after The Last Stand was a bit disappointing, and thankfully it does. Similarly to Heroes and The Last Stand, it’s a fairly short album, containing 11 tracks and clocking in at just under 39 minutes, which causes the tracks to fly by in a hurry, and of course that also makes it very easy to play the album several times over in one sitting, to really dig deep into it. Kicking off the album is “The Future of Warfare” a fairly slow paced, atmospheric track with some excellent keys throughout. The verses move along fairly slowly, but are filled with some very strong vocal melodies, while the chorus opens up and is very fun and epic, as always, while the solo section in the second half is very energetic and a lot of fun. It’s a very catchy, very enjoyable opener, and it kicks the album off quite well. Next is “Seven Pillars of Wisdom”, a slightly speedier track, with a very classic feel to it, including a main melody that feels like it could have come straight from the band’s “Metal” trilogy of songs, spread across their first two albums and Coat of Arms. This feel is especially true for the main keyboard melodies, and it sticks around for most of the song, while the guitar work is a bit heavier than on the opening track, the verses move along at a pretty nice pace, the chorus is extremely infectious and catchy, the bridge is awesome and very inspired, and of course the guitar solo in the second half is excellent. It’s an awesome track, overall, and an early album highlight.

Things only get better with “82nd All the Way”, another speedier track with some excellent keyboards, as well as some nice melodic guitar work. It moves along at a slightly relaxed, but nice pace during the verses, with more excellent vocal melodies, and then the chorus is quite fast and it’s simply a treat, with some awesome keys, awesome vocals and some amazing melodies, and just like the previous track, there’s an excellent bridge, which gives way to a very melodic and fun guitar solo in the second half. The first real slow track on the album is “The Attack of the Dead Men”, and it has a slightly unique feel to it, with much darker, more atmospheric sounding keys, and indeed the track has a fairly grim feel to it overall, and the band pulls it off quite well, with slow, but heavy verses and a fairly strange but quite interesting build up to the chorus, which is of course every bit as upbeat, melodic and super catchy, as always. The track has a particularly inspired instrumental section, which goes on for quite a while, with some very classic sounding melodic guitar work, as well as possibly the heaviest, most technical passage on the album and it’s one of the highlights of the album for sure. Next is “Devil Dogs” and it’s yet another instant classic. It again has a familiar feel, opening with an epic tease at the chorus, before the pace picks up during the opening verse, which contains some very epic choir vocals, as well as some heavy riffs, and the song moves along at a nice pace, with another huge, epic chorus, as well as a very fun instrumental section, preceded by an epic, triumphant vocal section, which is followed by an over the top, but quite funny voice over, as well as more excellent solo work.

Next is second single “The Red Baron”, and some fans may not have heard the normal album version yet (for reasons I’ll explain near the end of the review), which contains an epic hammond organ recreation of Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Little Fugue in G Minor” during the intro. Following that, the track introduces a rather playful keyboard melody, that has a bit of a swing feel to it, and it carries on throughout the track, giving the track a very cheerful feel. The song moves along at a fast pace, with very fun verses, one of the catchiest choruses I’ve heard so far this year, and it has yet another excellent instrumental section, with more playful keyboards and some excellent melodic guitar work. Following that is third single, “Great War”, which is one of the slowest, yet also most epic tracks on the album. It moves along at a slow pace during the verses, with more atmospheric keys and strong vocals from Joakim, and then the chorus is of course unbelievably powerful and epic, with strong symphonic elements and some excellent choral vocals, to help give it a more dramatic feel. The pace picks up again with “A Ghost in the Trenches”, which is one of the faster tracks on the album, with a nice gallop to the verses, as well as another very upbeat, very fun chorus, and more great instrumental work throughout. It’s definitely one of the catchier songs on the album.

The band did something which I think may be unprecedented with lead single “Fields of Verdun”, by having cello metal band Apocalyptica record a cover, and then releasing that cover a couple days before the release of the original track, itself. The cover was actually an amazing, very beautiful and atmospheric piece, with a nice use of varying tempos, while the Sabaton version is fairly straight-forward, very fast paced and quite fun, with an excellent, super catchy chorus, a very strong guitar solo, and fun verses. Both versions of the song are excellent, and it’s easy to see why it was picked as the first single. The last full length song on the album is “The End of the War to End All Wars” and it’s another very epic track, opening with some soft piano and slight symphonic elements, before turning into a full blown symphonic metal track, which gets more and more epic as it goes on, complete with some orchestral elements and some very epic choir vocals. It’s definitely one of the most epic, cinematic tracks the band has done, while still fitting their style perfectly. Verses are fairly dark, atmospheric and a bit heavy, while the chorus is extremely fun and theatrical, with the choirs taking full charge, and there’s a very epic, classical flavored guitar solo in the second half (I suspect it is taken from a classical piece, but I can’t figure out which it is) and overall it’s a very beautiful, powerful track, which gives way to an outstanding ending to the album. This outstanding ending comes in the form of “In Flanders Fields”, a choral performance of the classic poem, written by Canadian Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae. It’s a very beautiful cover, done entirely a Capella, with a choir, and it’s an absolutely wonderful way to end the album.

Before concluding this review, I’d like to point out that there are actually two version of the album: A normal version, which has all tracks uninterrupted, as well as a “History Version”, which includes some narration. The latter effectively makes the album feel similar to The Art of War, with a woman briefly introducing the topics for each track, and these narrations are fairly brief, so as not to disrupt the flow too much, while giving a bit of insight and historical context for each track. For the most part, the songs themselves are exactly the same on both versions, except that the History Version removes the Hammond organ intro for “The Red Baron”, and that’s the version the band used for their video. I generally prefer the normal version, for its overall flow, but the History Version is definitely worth a listen or two, for the narrations.

Sabaton will always be one of my all time favorite bands, with even a disappointing album like The Last Stand still managing to entertain me time and time again. Thankfully, though, The Great War is a big return to form, containing the same mix of speedy and slower tracks as Heroes, along with the seamless flow of that album, moving from highlight to highlight, while also having a very important concept, and executing it to perfection, with optional narration, excellent lyrics, and a stunning ending sequence. At the same time, there are plenty of amazing individual tracks here, as well, so anyone just looking for some addictive power metal, with little care for the lyrical themes, will also find a lot to enjoy here. It’s too early to say where it ranks among my all time favorite albums, but The Great War is definitely one of my top three favorites from Sabaton, along with The Art of War and Heroes, which is already saying a lot, and it’s far and away the best album I’ve heard in 2019 so far, with any upcoming releases having next to zero chance of topping it.

originally written for myglobalmind.com: https://myglobalmind.com/2019/07/15/sabaton-the-great-war-review/

SABATON Carolus Rex

Album · 2012 · Power Metal
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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.

SABATON The Last Stand

Album · 2016 · Power Metal
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Kev Rowland
Just two years after their last studio album, Sabaton were back in 2016 with ‘The Last Stand’. Although not a concept album per se, all of the songs take inspiration from “last stand” military battles. The title song is about the Stand of the Swiss Guard , which took place during the sacking of Rome on May 6th, 1527, when the Pope's Swiss guards held off troops loyal to the Habsburgs long enough for Pope Clement to escape. “Rorke’s Drift” is, surprisingly enough, about the Battle for Rorke’s Drift while “Last Dying Breath” is about the Serbian defence of Belgrade. The album starts off as solidly as one would expect from Sabaton – there are rarely going to be many surprises, this band is Ronseal, they do exctaly what it says on the tin.

But, third track in, and I was just blown away by “Blood of Bannockburn”, as this is not only at a faster pace than quite a few Sabaton songs, but it is incredibly commercial with hooks aplenty. They are renowned for writing songs for fans to sing along with, but this is insane, and I love it! This high energy and pitch is then thrown into disarray with the next song being a spoken piece from an unknown soldier in World War II, with some music behind. This really throws the album into stark relief, almost as if Sabaton are saying that they know that the previous song was fairly light-hearted in its approach, yet war and battle is always something to be taken seriously, and puts the listener back down quite hard. Overall, this is yet another incredibly epic album from Sabaton, one that hits absolutely every single mark. This was the final release to feature Thobbe Englund, who left after its completion, but he departed after yet another amazing release. These guys are at the very top, and show no sign of falling.

SABATON Heroes

Album · 2014 · Power Metal
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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.

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