Sabaton – Heroes (Nuclear Blast)Tuesday, 13th May 2014
Swedish champs of heavy metal militarism, Sabaton, return for their seventh studio album, chock-full of banner waving, huge Euro-style power anthems of heroism (obviously) and courage. Songs with soccer-stadium strength rally around some weaker moments, and ultimately keep Heroes flying pretty high in this potent and fairly brief engagement of 37 minutes.
Leading the charge is “Night Witches,” a deluge of full-on Sabaton and a worthy opener with its cinematic proportions. So, starting on a decent note, our heroes ratchet things up a few notches in the following “No Bullets Fly” and “Smoking Snakes”, two of the stronger tracks on this outing. Things take a turn for the dull in “Inmate 4859,” and make a short-lived rebound with “To Hell and Back”. The impossibly cheesy “The Ballad of Bull” is, well, a ballad, smack dab in the middle, and begins with the cringe-worthy lyrics: “Sometimes wars kill, and sometimes it’s saving lives. It’s the judgment of fate, it’s nothing that man can dictate.” Yeesh. Perhaps it warms up to be a welcome change from the dominant mood of the album after a few listens – a different, yet well-constructed turn of events, at any rate.
As if our champions were knocked down mid-battle, they shakily struggle to get back on their feet, and by track eight’s “Soldier of 3 Armies” deliver their shining moment of Heroes. Thunderous drums give way to classic, driving, power metal – always catering to the vocals of Joakim Brodén, and yielding the anthemic chorus in what will no doubt be a Sabaton classic. Insulating this triumph of the album are a pair of strong cuts, ending with an appropriate summation in “Hearts of Iron,” signaling for the end of the war.
A densely-packed album of melody and might, providing a military geography lesson as well as impressing with great guitar solos and hooks. Brodén ‘s throaty, lower-register vocals are melodic and strong, if they falter lyrically at times, and are propped up by rich supporting vocals. His signature synthesizer plays a somewhat restrained role, a good thing, as the distinct effect created can historically sound a bit overbearing.
Heroes should prove to be one of the strongest Sabaton albums in their 15-year career, successful not only due to the player’s performance, but that the content is memorable…and that is the challenge, now isn’t it?