Remember the rest of the band Sabaton used to have before they were unceremoniously sacked last year? Well, they're back... with a new singer... and more war tunes... hurrah!(?)
The album title, 'The Killer Angels', and artwork is taken from the excellent American Civil War novel concerning the battle seen as the 'high watermark' in the confederate campaign - The legendary Battle of Gettysburg, whose 150th anniversary incidentally is approaching. Sadly, that my friends is where any connection with the song ends.
The artwork and packaging look awesome, effectively using the picture of a union soldier, perhaps of the fabled 20th Maine and period layout. There is very little lyrically to connect the song, a generic song about battles to the song itself, which whilst catchy with themes about being 'ready to fight' and 'ready to fire at will' it has little substance. This is a real shame as the Sabaton of old was known for good factual lyrical content, well researched about whichever historical event (but mostly battles) they covered and great catchy riffs and lyrics. I wonder if the passion for research and history remained wearing the sunglasses in the old band?
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I can't knock the great new singer however, shades of Klaus Meine in vocal vibrato, with some Dioesque elements and perhaps closest in style to singer of french band Nightmare. He's very powerful and has awesome range. He's Astral Doors man Nils Patrik Johansson.
According to the press-kit he sought the band out after their controversial split. A singer in search of a good band obviously, using the Sabaton name to reach a wider audience.
Overall its a well typically produced full epic Swedish sound that the world has come to expect with music exports from the lands of the Vikings, however as usual lyrical meaning and accuracy lose something in translation.
'St Patrick's Day' is an Irish themed jig, sounds very catchy and typically loses it for me with the singer's accent, a kind of Swedish Phil Lynott which just doesn't do it. 'The Sons Of Avalon' speeds up, to remind me in spirit of Saxon's faster numbers. As two songs of similar titles by both Maiden and Saxon have been penned in recent years, I'll let you draw your own conclusions as to whether google Metal anthem writer has been used.
'Rome Is Falling' sounds EPIC with a great chorus and starts off with the trademark keyboards and has tremendous backing vocals. Here could be the saviour, in that it is very old school Sabaton, and one I expect to be very popular live.
'I Will Rule The Universe' seems again to have stolen keyboards stylings from 'Art Of War', and tracks the glorious rise of Napolean Bonaporte but seems big on theme, but typically short on accuracy. Again, It's bloody catchy though, with some great guitar work.
'Lucifer's Court' and 'My Brother's Court' fail to stand out for me, but there are some great Maidenesque 'Brave New World' era harmonies in the mix somewhere.
'My Own Worst Enemy' picks up the pace again, with a good demonstration of high speed double peddle drumming, that is the harbinger of twiddly keyboards bordering on the bontempe in places.
Finally 'March Across The Belt' again trades ridiculous keyboard intros with some stocking riffs and singalongs. With this album, the band have written some catchy Metal tunes that have the potential to be anthemic. However, as its Joacim Brodén that's previously done all the writing, it's plain to see lyrically there is a hugh gap to fill, which was perhaps Sabaton's USP!
Having said that 'Corolus Rex' musically didn't stand out as much is this, which may be the real point, stick to the rock and roll guys..!
The music fan in me, who loved the cast of personality characters that original Sabaton became, hopes this is an effective, well packaged product and vehicle to relaunch their careers. The history buff thinks it lightweight and lacks substance, and for a better treatment of the subject matter see Iced Earth's under rated 'Glorious Burden' epic or indeed, the film Gettysburg.
I will however, endeavour to check them out live! - coming to a Swedish festival near you soon.