I’ve never been a fan of SABATON, even though they have some good songs in their catalogue. Don’t ask me to name any, because I don’t follow the band, nor do I have any of their albums. Several years ago, I did see them live at work, but they couldn’t convince me. The gig wasn’t bad at all, but nothing extraordinary either.
Last year, the majority of the members left the band and formed CIVIL WAR. SABATON also found replacements to carry on. CIVIL WAR still needed a vocalist and a bass player to complete the line-up. Those two positions were filled by, respectively, Nils Patrik Johansson (ASTRAL DOORS, LION’S SHARE, WUTHERING HEIGHTS) and Stefan “Pizza” Eriksson (HELL PATROL, ex-CRYONIC TEMPLE, and several more).
In 2012, a self-titled EP was released, containing five songs, of which “Rome Is Falling” also made it onto the band’s debut full-length, “The Killer Angels”, the title being taken from the novel by Michael Shaara about the battle of Gettysburg. This release was put out in June 2013 via Despotz Records, like the EP. It contains eleven tracks, including one bonus track.
It all begins with “King Of The Sun”. An atmospheric, exotic-sounding intro leads to a slow opening of a hymnic tune. When all is set, you get a tight and firm piece of Metal. Bombastic, even. Catchy melodies help make the song accessible. It made me think of DIO, somehow, but in a more Metal version. Nils’s singing is passionate, as always, and helps create the link with DIO. Keyboards reside in the back, the focus here lies on guitars. “First To Fight” is full-on speedy Power Metal. And it rocks! And shreds! And it’s catchy as f…, well, it’s very catchy. 😉 While the verses have firm singing, everything comes out in a more ballsy, voluminous way in the chorus. Halfway there’s a change in rhythm, as a way to bridge the gap towards the solo part (guitar and keyboards).
Time for a more Folky tune then: “Saint Patrick’s Day”. It’s a midtempo one, catchy and firm. Atmospheric, calm verses (incl. marching drums, keyboards and vocals) contrast with the full power kicking in in the next instant. Rhythmically it remains intact, advancing towards the chorus. And this one atmospheric at first, then powerful. Feel free to sing along a little later, right before the solo. “Rome Is Falling” begins with electronic backing, almost like rushing and very Sci-Fi-like. Is this another fast song? Not exactly, but it does have power, firmness and drive. Like before, you get a contrast between the verses and the more voluminous, melodic chorus. Mainly the singing indicates this evolution. In general, it’s the guitarwork that stands out in this song. A break is due later on, followed by a rebuild through double leads and this sounds awesome! As does the chorus.
“Sons Of Avalon” has a mysterious intro, or rather, the calm before the storm. This storm is unleashed in a typical, uptempo Power Metal style. Melodic/atmospheric backing completes the aural picture, even if the song is focused on guitars. Nils’s typical, passionate/screamy vocals are present as well. The chorus is full, full with regards to singing (layered). This straight-forward, energetic song also has an instrumental break/bridge, where melody (keyboards) is key, before it’s chorus time again. More bombast is delivered in “I Will Rule The Universe”, which, in general, made me think of ONE MORE TIME’s hit “Highland” (see YouTube). It’s a hymnic, and rather slow song. The music grows in power and riffing as the pre-chorus nears. The chorus itself is bombastic. Halfway the drums fall silent, in favour of more attention for vocals and overall feel (passion, drama). After that, it’s solo time.
“Lucifer’s Court” has 80’s keyboards leading into melodic Power Metal. Firm, midtempo verses – where vocals stand out – link with the powerful, hymnic chorus, thundering onwards. Quality assured. “Brother Judas” is, on the other hand, a more Bluesy song with very nice guitar work, both rhythms and leads. A well-done composition of rhythm (bass and drums), followed by leads, pave the way for the obligatory solo section. Pedal to the Metal is not always needed, but here it does come at the right time: “My Own Worst Enemy”. It’s fast, it shreds, it rages! And how tasty it sounds!
This bring us to “Gettysburg”, about which e.g. ICED EARTH also has made an song (3 parts – “The Glorious Burden”, 2004). CIVIL WAR made their song Bluesy, but in a Heavy Metal kind of way. It’s hymnic, and also is based on the atmospheric verses vs powerful chorus principle. There is, however, much room for solos, for which guitars and keyboards took turns. The bonus track, “March Across The Belts”, starts with game-like keyboard sounds, going into melodic Power Metal. Like the rest of the pack, this song also is worth checking out.
While SABATON couldn’t convince me (yet?) to add an album to my collection, CIVIL WAR hit the bull’s eye from the start. Fans of melodic Heavy/Power Metal – and even of DIO, the band – should not hesistate and purchase “The Killer Angels”, for it is a killer album. Definitely one of the best releases this year, seriously.
- King Of The Sun
- First To Fight
- Saint Patrick’s Day
- Rome Is Falling
- Sons Of Avalon
- I Will Rule The Universe
- Lucifer’s Court
- Brother Judas
- My Own Worst Enemy
- March Across The Belt (bonus track)
Nils Patrik Johansson – vocals
Rikard Sundén – guitar
Oskar Montelius – guitar
Daniel Mÿhr – keyboards
Pizza – bass
Daniel Mullback – drums