SABATON, the war-themed heavy metal band, have successfully followed up a great album.
Thanks to the seamless line-up change of two years ago (this is the first album from the new line-up), the music is still instantly recognisable as Sabaton’s own. But here it’s much heavier (like early albums Primo Victoria and Attero Dominatus) compared to the sweeping keyboards and guitars of Carolus Rex.
Just like Coat of Arms, all the songs on the album (except the bonuses) are set during WW2.
Battle-scared Sabaton fans will notice bits of other songs in the following tracks, but that’s what we’ve all come to expect from them. In this case, the same (roughly) is a good thing.
Night Witches – The all-female Soviet night bombing Squadron 588.
This opening track eerily homes in on you, does its damage, and then flies away again. Think of it as an airborne version of ‘Ghost Division’, which opens The Art of War.
No Bullets Fly – Franz Stigler escorted Charles ‘Charlie’ Brown’s damaged B-17 out of enemy airspace rather than kill him and his crew.
Smoking Snakes – Arlindo Lúcio da Silva, Geraldo Baeta da Cruz and Geraldo Rodrigues de Souza of the Brazilian Expeditionary Force, put up such a fight against German soldiers that they were buried by their enemies with ‘Three Brazilian Heroes‘ inscribed on their crosses.
Finally we have a song focusing on the often overlooked Brazilians in WW2. I find this track similar to ‘Union (Slopes of St. Benedict)’, and coincidentally both are set during the Italian Campaign. If ’40:1′ can earn Sabaton a huge following in Poland, I see no reason why ‘Smoking Snakes’ shouldn’t do the same for them in Brazil.
Inmate 4859 – Witold Pilecki allowed himself to get caught and be taken to Auschwitz. He led the camp’s resistance, escaped, told the world what was happening (he wasn’t believed) and was finally executed after the war by Stalinists.
Sabaton’s second song concerning The Holocaust. ‘The Final Solution’ was only played live at specific request and never at festivals. This track on the other hand might be played live, in Poland anyway. Perhaps it’s because it’s not as graphic as its sister track and has no Nazis in it.
The Ballard of Bull – Australian Corporal Leslie ‘Bull’ Allen rescued a dozen wounded American soldiers in Papua New Guinea…whilst under enemy fire.
This track makes you wonder why Bull wasn’t awarded a Victoria Cross. It stands out on its own thanks to it being driven by a keyboard rather than guitars. ‘The Ballard of Bull’ made me well-up slightly the first time I heard it, and I still eagerly await it whenever I listen to this album.
Resist and Bite – Belgium’s Chasseurs Ardennais wouldn’t just let Rommel cross their boarder without a fight.
Soldier of 3 Armies – Lauri Törni served in both the Finnish army and Waffen-SS in WW2 before immigrating to America and became a Green Beret in the Vietnam War. He achieved an officer’s rank in each force.
This track will have you questioning out loud whether or not all Finnish soldiers took a degree in badass. If you put this ‘Soldier of 3 Armies’ together with ‘White Death’ you’ll have an almost unbeatable combination on the battlefield as well as in your iPod.
Far from the Fame – Karel Janoušek created the Czechoslovakian forces in the R.A.F. Like Pilecki, he fell victim to the communists after the war.
Released almost two years ago on the 2012 Czech Masters of Rock Festival compilation CD, ‘Far From the Fame’ was already well known to Sabaton fans. Essentially what we have here is a polished version of what was released then.
Hearts of Iron – The German 12th and 9th Armies created a corridor along the Elbe river to allow refugees and soldiers to surrender to the west, rather than the Soviets.
As the lyrics say: “It is not about Berlin. It is not about the Reich. It’s about the men, who fought for them. What peace can they expect?” ‘Hearts of Iron’ clearly reminds you that not all German soldiers were evil (see ‘No Bullets Fly’) and the colour of your uniform has nothing to do with your valour. It beautifully (if that’s the right word) bookends WW2 in Europe when compared to ‘Rise of Evil’.
7734 – Originally appeared on Metalizer in 2007 but should have been released in 2002.
The new line-up breathes new life into this 12-year-old song. This is now the definitive version of ‘7734’.
Man of War – Sabaton’s fourth song in tribute to their own heroes.
For Whom The Bell Tolls, En Hjältes Väg (Path of a Hero) and Out of Control – Covers of genre heavyweight Metallica, Sweden’s Raubtier and Finland’s Battle Beast.
Fans of these bands should not be disappointed.
Overall, I would rate this as Sabaton’s second best album behind Carolus Rex.
Both introduced me to areas of history I didn’t previously know about, which is why they automatically rank higher than The Art of War, Coat of Arms, Primo Victoria and Attero Dominatus in that order. But Heroes misses out on the top spot because it lacks the narrative of Carolus Rex, which having grown up listening to Pink Floyd and Roger Waters concept albums is something that is ingrained in me.
But don’t get me wrong. There really isn’t much in it with regards to which Sabaton album is the best. They’re all that good it’s extremely difficult to judge.
But Heroes has managed to achieve something no other Sabaton LP has done before: go to number one in the Swedish album charts.
There’s been international chart success too.
- Finland: #2.
- Germany: #3.
- Poland: #6.
- Switzerland: #7.
- Austria: #11.
- Norway: #13.
- Denmark and Hungary: #20.
- Belgium (Flanders): #28.
- Netherlands: #37.
- U.K.: #59.
- Belgium (Wallonia): #72.
- U.S.A.: #99.
- France: #156.
It also reached number nine in the world charts.
Tour dates can be found here: http://tour.sabaton.net/
- Joakim Brodén – vocals, keyboards, lyrics and music.
- Pär Sundström – bass.
- Chris Rörland – guitar and backing vocals.
- Thobbe Englund – guitar and backing vocals.
- Hannes van Dahl – drums.
Heroes was produced by Peter Tägtgren and released on the Nuclear Blast label.