Friday, June 27, 2014

Sabaton – Heroes

Up to this point in their career, Sabaton has had an interesting ride. While all of their albums fundamentally sound similar, there is no doubt there have been various degrees of experimentation on each album. Ironically, it is not until the band recorded an album without 4 of the 6 long-standing members that it feels like Sabaton has truly found their sound. Again, this record is not particularly different from the previous ones, but what makes it stand out is that it feels like Sabaton has perfected the art of writing shamelessly catchy songs. They manage to do it in a pretty succinct manner, as 8 of the 10 tracks clock in at less than 4 minutes.

Perhaps the best example of this brilliant attention to songwriting is the opening track, “Night Witches”. The song bounces around various riffs with Joakim Broden’s stellar militaristic, gruff voice leading the charge into battle. The chorus provides an unexpected half-time breakdown, which is unlike anything the band has done before. After a couple of choruses, the song shoots into a two of speedy guitar solos, before a bridge, and then a final chorus. This is an extremely standard song structure for Sabaton, and pretty much every other typical band out there, but these Swedish power metallers are so good at it that you won’t care. Another highlight is the second single, “Resist and Bite”. This song is driven by a wicked melodic guitar line that jumps in and out throughout the track. It also makes use of the band’s undeniable ability to deliver exceptional backing vocals to support Broden.

The band takes a bit of a different turn on “The Ballad of Bull”, which shows them delivering a full-on ballad. This isn’t simply a slow Sabaton tune, but instead a much lighter track. It is nicely placed to break up the similarities of the other tracks, but when those other songs are so good, this ballad serves merely as a disruption. It’s a decent song, but can’t replace the playful, catchy rhythms that appear constantly on “Heroes”. It's worth tracking down a copy of the album with the two bonus tracks because you’ll be rewarded with a Manowar tribute song. If you can appreciate Sabaton’s approach to metal, it’s likely you enjoy Manowar too, and the former band does justice to the latter, as “Man of War” sounds like it could have been pulled straight from “Louder Than Hell”.

Heroes” is one of Sabaton’s finest offerings to date. Its best tracks might not rival the legendary “Primo Victoria” or “Ghost Division”, but this album is an incredible offering of consistent, marching, war-infused power metal. Dull moments are few and far between, and memorable bits are constantly appearing. If you weren’t a fan of Sabaton before this record, you probably still won’t be, but for everyone else, this is an exceptional album.

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"Night Witches"
"To Hell And Back"
"Resist And Bite"
"Far From The Fame"

Final Rating
4.6/5 or 92%. 

Written by Scott

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