Civil War – Invaders (Napalm Records)Friday, 17th June 2022
Although six years may seem like a long time between studio records, there’s been a few key shifts in the lineup of Civil War plus normal worldwide events that justify this absence. New singer Kelly Sundown Carpenter joined the group in time for a bit of touring in 2017 taking over for Nils Patrik Johansson to support the previous album The Last Full Measure. Once getting down to recording business, the well-known pandemic put bands into lockdown mode, often recording remotely or waiting until studio time opened up to get on with things. Add in another ex-Sabaton member for guitar with Thobbe Englund and we arrive at Invaders, the latest outing for this historical, modern power metal outfit.
The record continues the quintet’s affinity for culturally driven musical components that stir minds, bodies, and hearts, matching the stories of Native American battles, Confederate prisoner horrors, and measures of survival during wartimes and other perilous historical themes. Kelly’s passionate delivery has the breadth and scope of his heroes: Ronnie James Dio and Geoff Tate, albeit in a primal, gritty manner. The best examples to take in his stellar skills include the energetic title track plus a reflective, grandiose ballad such as “Andersonville” – the latter showcasing his lower range mastery in the verses while rising to the horizons as the song builds in emotional resonance. The keyboard work of Daniel Mÿhr plays as significant a role setting up aural scenery as the guitar parts – hitting some cyber-like movements for “Soldiers and Kings” and “Battle of Life” that advance the power metal template into Amaranthe/ Powerwolf-like textures. Favorites change with each successive listen – the folk-like nuances for “Dead Man’s Glory” plus mysterious, pulsating ambiance throughout the mid-tempo “Slaughterhouse 5” sure to provide plenty of headbanging, singalong moments. Solid lead breaks, proper choir placement, and the right balance between all the instrumentation ensures listeners can take deep dives into all the information present to come away feeling satisfied with the variation, versatility, and attention to detail this record has.
Civil War may have to live up to Sabaton comparisons for the rest of their career – but hopefully Invaders can give the group even more distance style-wise to establish themselves as credible players in the modern power metal scene.