Sabaton – Coat of Arms (Nuclear Blast Records)

Tuesday, 19th March 2013
Rating: 7.5/10

One of the acts from Sweden gaining critical acclaim for their brand of traditional power metal with lyrical war themes is Sabaton. Coat of Arms represents their sixth album and biggest label development, gaining the attention of long standing heavyweight Nuclear Blast. Will the bigger promotional and publicity force result in a larger following as a result?

It appears with these 10 songs, the sextet are emphasizing larger-than-life chorus work and mid-tempo to fast paced anthems that should gain favor with huge festival gatherings. “Screaming Eagles” contains those speedy twin Blind Guardian-like guitar passages against persistent double bass and operatic/theatrical vocal accompaniment. Daniel Myhr’s airy keyboards give “The Final Solution” more of an Irish battle march motif, while vocalist Joakim Broden delivers the melodies with his unique mountain top trill.

After a while, the choir background chants that carry on from verse to verse do get a bit predictable and a tad overbearing, almost making you wonder what songs like “Aces In Exile” or “Midway” would sound like if they didn’t pile on the layers. Be aware as well the keyboard-to-guitar presence throughout the record is very close to a 50-50 dead heat, and once again emphasizing an act who realize possible commercial implications to their brand.

Primo Victoria remains the high mark for me in Sabaton’s catalog, and I don’t feel Coat of Arms moves much beyond a tried and true, safe effort. Let’s hope they continue to gain ground on the live front, where they appear to make an impact both stateside and abroad.

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