With "Carolus Rex", Sabaton has returned for yet another disc of pounding, militaristic power metal. This time, however, the emphasis is on a series of events that took place in Sweden, rather than on the World Wars. In yet another change, the majority of the band left right before the album’s release. Vocalist Joakim Broden and bassist Par Sundstrom have always written the majority of music anyways, so this album (nor any future album) should not have been affected by the lineup change. "Carolus Rex" definitely has broken a little bit of new ground, but it also has other moments that are very familiar to Sabaton fans.
The album kicks off with a stereotypical power metal track, which is strange because Sabaton usually opens with a thundering, heavy track, rather than a fast, soaring melodic tune. “The Lion From The North” is definitely a pleasant surprise, and the following track, “Gott Mit Uns”, also shows the band in new territory. This is the first genuine folk metal track I’ve heard from the band, and has a fantastic chorus as well. Despite the good start this album gets off to, it isn’t until “A Lifetime of War” that the band delivers a truly classic song. This is no doubt one track that will have everyone chanting along at live shows. Its main theme will be circling through your mind as you listen to the next few, slightly less memorable songs. The other epic on this record is the mighty title track, “Carolus Rex”. This is Sabaton at their heaviest, as the guitars move in and out of the song making way for the bass and drums to take the lead. Though this song seemed underwhelming on first listen, it has quickly blossomed into a favourite track of mine (and judging by the response when I saw the band, a crowd favourite as well). After the mammoth that is “Carolus Rex”, none of the other tracks can really match up. With it’s harmonies and great bass-lines the Iron Maiden-esque “Killing Ground” is no doubt a fun listen, but this album isn’t particularly consistent towards the end.
Even with the potential turmoil that plagued the band during the recording, Sabaton managed to crank out another good album. While it doesn’t quite match up with “Primo Victoria” or “Coat of Arms”, “Carolus Rex” is another quality power metal album. Some of the band’s best works are on this record, but some of their worst are as well. Then again, the worst of Sabaton is still a lot better than the best of many bands. Pick up this record and see the band live, because this is one band that has yet to disappoint.
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“The Lion From The North"
“A Lifetime of War"
4.25/5 or 85%
Written by Scott