Sabaton
Coat of Arms

Sweden’s Sabaton blew me away few years back with The Art of War and to their credit they reminded me that power metal was still a viable genre. Needless to say, since then, I’ve been waiting for Coat of Arms in my fox hole, wearing an old Finnish M16 helmet.

The Swedes are back again, singing about war and metal (“Metal Ripper”) while reminding us that Bolt Thrower really ought to release a new album too. Luckily, Sabaton are here to give us a 40-minute lecture in history with songs such as “Uprising” (about the dire situation in Warsaw back in the day), “Screaming Eagles” (you know) and “White Death” that pays respect to Finnish sniper legend Simo Häyhä, who killed some 500+ Soviet soldiers in three months during the Winter War. A score, that even the cheaters in modern first person shooters have a hard time reaching.

Aside from a new set of songs, pretty much everything that I wrote in my previous review holds true here as well. We’re treated to gut-wrenchingly addicting melodies, simple but refined, their power second to none. Sing-a-long moments are provided like ammunition when the supply lines are intact; plentifully. They also make me question why they didn’t teach history at school in this manner. So goddamned catchy, that no doubt fists will be raised once war conquers the stages of the world: “Midway! We meet at Midway! Naval war!” Solos, too, roar again like the screams of dive-bombing Stukas – causing admiration at the receiving end. On top of it all, Joakim Broden’s peculiar but ever so commanding voice echoes through the blood-soaked battlefields. Huzzah!

Yet, all is not the same. Sabaton’s current sound seems to lean more towards the ’80s, both in production and songwriting. Perhaps it’s Daniel Mÿhr’s keyboard sounds, as they clearly belong to stadiums rather than tiny venues. Coat of Arms doesn’t strike you blind straight away like The Art of War did. It also comes off as slightly less epic than its predecessor. Mÿhr’s keys also feature a slightly more technological edge to them, rendering the sound slightly mysterious (“Wehrmacht”). There’s an element of complexity (“The Final Solution”) that I didn’t find in the previous album, but progressive this is not. Sabaton still rely on shell shocking the listener into submission with memorable, heart-pounding songs. Getting into the music is as easy as following direct orders! There’s a certain, dare I say it in the context of war, upbeat feel to the whole onslaught, reminding me slightly of Falconer’s excellent self-titled debut, albeit Coat of Arms is far from jolly. I’d say there are light traces of Angel Dust in there too — minus the thrash. The only IED is the song “Saboteurs”. For a song with a catchy chorus (no surprise there) it excels at being somewhat underwhelming amidst the rest of the ordnance.

While it’s hard to overcome the brilliance of The Art of War, Sabaton’s follow-up isn’t a bad one — far from it. It simply takes time to sink in like the burning oil tankers that were surgically torpedoed by the Wolf pack. Undoubtedly, Coat of Arms will see plenty of airtime during the upcoming summer and with it, Sabaton also prove once and for all to be at the top of the power metal food chain ― so dominant is their military might.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Mikko K.
May 3rd, 2010

Comments

  1. Commented by: Cynicgods

    It’s strange, the vocalist is talented yet something about his voice just rubs me the wrong way. Oh well, no point in dwelling on it. I’m off to listen to some Powerwolf for a similar band with a vocalist that I can actually enjoy.


  2. Commented by: Apollyon

    Ah, one of those cases. Have to disagree with you there Cynny, the guy’s voice is really part of the charm for me. Something to do with the teutonic pronunciation I suppose. Not that it’s any different, you still might want to check the previous album out. Just in case.


  3. Commented by: emperorjvl

    Huh. This is better than Art of War by a mile, IMHO. Maybe I missed something? At any rate, their previous ones are better still.


  4. Commented by: Robby Riff

    Mikko, thnx for the review! I laughed out loud, several times. Especially the remark about cheaters in first person shooters!
    I’m definately getting this album. Gonna see Sabaton on Graspop(.be) and in Holland at the end of the year.

    Prima victoria!


  5. Commented by: Apollyon

    Thanks for the kind words. Yet to catch the band live myself, but hopefully the next time they come over.

    As for this being better than ‘The Art of War’, in my opinion, that’s not the case. TAoW is an absolute beast that really blitzkriegs you into submission, without mercy. So many great songs, one after another, on that album that it’s not even funny.


  6. Commented by: Clauricaune

    Sabaton always make me laugh a little. Hearing that dude sing “The Final Solution” with a strong accent and in such a enthusiastic tone (considering it’s a song about killing jews, and I know it’s meant to do so in a critical manner, but still)… it always gets me.


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