One of the more interesting events in recent metal history was the abrupt split of half of Sabaton in early 2012. When four members all leave a band at once, it is certainly cause for concern. Fortunately, Sabaton themselves recovered, but the other four members moved on to a new band called Civil War. Admittedly I couldn’t even quite keep up with these guys as I missed their first album that was released back in 2013, but just two years later, they put out another record. In hindsight, I wish I had not bothered with this album. It has a number of flaws that make it incredibly difficult to sit through.
The biggest problem with this album is singer Nils Patrik Johansson. I’m astounded that I’ve listened to as much power metal as I have without coming across him before, as he has had a successful career with Astral Doors, but I have no idea how. His voice is the most grating thing I’ve ever heard. It’s incredibly nasally, and does not sound good. The worst part is that he could be half-decent, as there’s a part in the opening song “War of the World” where he shows us what he’d sound like without plugging his nose when he sings. While he does hit the notes he needs to on this album, he sounds like he’s trying so hard to be a combination of Dio and Jorn that he ultimately ruins the record.
This may make it sound like the rest of the album is salvageable, but it’s really not that good. Most of the songs on this album are mid-tempo at best, lack any sort of interesting riff, and have no hooks. To be fair to Civil War, this isn’t all that different from Sabaton at times. Both bands can definitely get a little bit dependent on chugging. The only difference is that Sabaton is led by a unique, interesting, and charismatic singer who can carry the band no matter what else is happening.
To make matters worse, the band makes a number of questionable choices throughout the album. At this point I’m just nitpicking, but it’s been a while since I’ve heard a record that frustrated me so much. For one thing, at the end of “The Bay of Pigs”, Johansson keeps spitting out pigs, which sounds incredibly dull and uninspired (at least look to Overkill to see how this could be done better). Another example is the lyrics of “Admiral Over The Oceans”. Here’s a few lines from the song:
“He's the admiral over the oceans
The admiral over the sea
He's the admiral over the oceans
If you don't understand, read the history book”
In other words, if Civil War’s lyrical savvy is too confusing for you, bust out your textbooks to learn more. I’ve never heard a band sound like they’re actively trying to berate their listeners for their lack of knowledge about history (a subject which I feel Civil War is only singing about in an attempt to capture their old fanbase of Sabaton).
The only positive thing I can say about this album is that if you block out the vocals, the music is mediocre. Occasionally the band adds some double bass, which makes things a little bit more interesting (there’s a reason why so many power metal bands abuse this trope; it works!). Other than that, “Gods and Generals” really can’t offer anything that is worth buying. Skip this album and hold out for a new Sabaton record instead.
If you choose to brave the storm, be sure to check out and like Civil War on Facebook!
2.5/5 or 50%.
Written by Scott