Crime Records

Monday, May 19, 2014

Sabaton - Heroes Review

Band:  Sabaton
Album:  Heroes
Label:  Nuclear Blast
Genre: Power Metal
Country: Sweden

Release Date:  May 16, 2014

Sabaton are a “wild-card” in the metal world.  I’m not suggesting, at all, that these Swedish power-metallers aren’t metal.  On the contrary, who could accuse these guys of being poppish and fluffy?  It’s just that, I find, people either love them or think they’re ridiculous.  Whatever you think, it can’t be denied that they are passionate for metal, have a love of history and that their discography contains some amazingly powerful work.  They’ve been accused of being too repetitious, with suggestions that they stagnate too quickly.  Even if they are repetitious it doesn’t mean that they’ll lose respect.  After all Motorhead can be accused of the same and I can’t imagine those guys being accused of creating boredom inducing songs.  In fact, sabaton’s last album, as if in mind of such criticism, was a clear breath of the most brilliant fresh air in the form of Carolus Rex.  That was 2012, however.  Will 2014 see Sabaton executing a beautifully crafted full fronted power-attack?  Or will they be trying to light a wet squib in a muddy trench?

The album opener “Night Witches”, which honours the Russian 588 night Bombers, is a return to more traditional Sabaton.  It has the force to grab your attention and displays the bands intentions of great things.

“No Bullets Fly” is an homage to the heart warming story of Charlie Brown and Franz Stigler.  The latter, A German Ace, seeing brown’s B17 was severely damaged, not only allowed them to carry on but even escorted them for much of the way, so that they could limp home to their English airfield.  It’s another power attack from Sabaton with some great moments.

Three tracks in and we have “Smoking Snakes”.  It’s opening moments remind me of “Aces In Exile” and I adore that song.  And, no less this song.  the track sets down Brazil’s commitment to the Allied cause during the war by sending tens of thousands of their own sons and daughters to fight alongside the Allies.

“Inmate 4859”, otherwise known as Witold Pilecki, was a Polish hero and leader of the resistance movement at Auschwitz.  Sabaton rightly honour him here with crushing riffs and an awesome solo.

This inspiring number is about none other than Audie Murphy.  If this Texan had gone to war wearing his medals, bullets would have bounced off.  This guy held a company of Germans at bay for an hour, all by himself, so it’s only fitting that the Sabaton boys would honour him with a jaunty American battle hymn style classic.

“The Ballad Of Bull” certainly lives up to it’s name.  The ballad tells us of Leslie "Bull" Allen, an Australian who was awarded the US Silver Star for bravely rescuing 12 wounded American soldiers during WWII.  It’s a softer, piano driven moment but no less great.

“Resist And Bite” is the motto of the Battailon de Chasseurs Ardennais, who ferocity (along with other Belgian forces) was noted by the German forces when they invaded Belgium in 1940.  An epic ode to an epic force.

“Soldier Of 3 Armies” is a cracking homage to Lauri Allan Törni, a Finnish hero who served with the Finns, Germans and Americans during World War 2.  This guy must have had a thing for killing Russians.  The Finns were akin to Spartans during the war but this guy was something special.  Google him and then understand this awesome song better.

“Far From The Fame” is another power song with lots of catchy moment and riffs.  An ode to Czech,  Karel Janousek who created the Czech arm of the RAF during the war.  It’s to guys like these, along with the Poles, French, Belgians (the list goes on) that are unsung heroes of the Battle Of Britain and as a citizen of the UK it’s not lost on me that if it wasn’t for these guys
risking their lives over a land that wasn’t theirs (and was quite unwelcoming) things would, no doubt, be different now.  Thanks lads.

The closing track “Hearts Of Iron” takes a bow with a homage to the 12th and 9th Armies (German) who selflessly kept open a safe corridor across the Elbe River to allow fleeing civilians and soldiers to surrender to the West instead of the Russians.  It’s short but powerful and has some very classical sounding guitar work.

I had a few set backs writing this review.  A few work-related matters popped up but I also ended up rewriting it from scratch.  You see, the first draft merely stated the musical matters,  the feel of each song and musicianship.  But I then realised that this album is far more than all that.  I knew that it could only be enjoyed at its best when you understand who and what the songs are about.  And, so, I did a bit of background reading (thanks Wikipedia), listened to the album again and wrote the review again.  This album is nothing but a homage to the greatness and compassion that can shine from individuals of all nations during times of war and strife and this knowledge can give you cold shivers when you listen to the songs again.  It’s worth noting that Sabaton have also undergone a little strife of late with a large part of the band going their separate ways.  And it’s for this reason, also, that makes this a grand album when we consider that, even though these guys haven’t had all that long to accustom to each other, they have managed to come through to the otherside.  So, I reckon this album is worth a great 8/10.
1. Night Witches
2. No Bullets Fly
3. Smoking Snakes
4. Inmate 4859
5. To Hell And Back
6. The Ballad Of Bull
7. Resist And Bite
8. Soldier Of 3 Armies
9. Far From The Fame
10. Hearts Of Iron

Total Playing Time: 37:00