Civil War – Gods and Generals (Napalm)Sunday, 26th April 2015
Outsiders could view the large exodus of Sabaton members in 2012 as career suicide. As the smoke settles, we see their career ark skyrocketing, while the former ‘Primo’ gentlemen didn’t want to stop in their metal pursuits, recruiting Astral Doors singer Nils Patrik Johansson and moving forward with Civil War. Gods and Generals may be the second full length for the band, but for many this could be the introduction to their sound, as 2013’s The Killer Angels came out on the domestic Despotz Records – getting their style to the Swedish contingency, while even the surrounding European hotbed territories had nary a clue on the promotional front.
Comparisons inevitably will get tossed around regarding Sabaton or Astral Doors qualities – however the keyboard passages from Daniel Mÿhr aren’t as front and center, and I believe guitarists Rikard Sundén and Petrus Granar carry the lion’s share of riff/hook delivery to keep their platform much heavier and more traditional. Lyrically many of the tracks feed off of military battle/war themes as “USS Monitor” and “Back to Iwo Jima” clearly illustrate. Background choir-type vocals encourage mead hall/festival sing-a-longs, which assuredly should occur if Civil War choose to roll out “Admiral Over the Oceans” and the video track “Bay of Pigs” (the mid-tempo main riff pumping up the requisite devils horn).
The trump card for the quintet is Johansson’s broad range and commanding grittiness as a vocalist. Channeling a lot of theatrical meets Shakespeare-ish phrasing and delivery makes “Braveheart” an early standout and possibly the best Civil War song to date in their brief discography, while the semi-epic ballad “Schindler’s Ark” employs a lot of his higher and lower Ronnie James Dio propensities. The closing title cut has a lot of that double time battle striding impetus and riffing that blends older Iron Maiden with Edguy and Sabaton – the best ending one could hope for, triumphant and glorious.
Civil War will certainly benefit from their higher profile work of the past in terms of establishing a following – while they march out into the metal fields through their own power niche on Gods and Generals. And much like U.D.O./Accept, we get two artists to champion, so win-win indeed.