Saturday, July 7, 2012

Album Review: Sabaton - "Carolus Rex"

Wait. Wait. Wait. Hold the fuck up. Sabaton released an album not about World War II?


Are you fucking with me?

What's that? Carolus Rex is still about some sort of war? That's still acceptable. I guess.
Swedish power metallers Sabaton have returned with another collection of songs sure to make you pick up your sword and go fight for glory! Sabaton is a relatively new band, having been pumping out material for less than 10 years now. They've pretty much kept the exact same sound for all that time. Standard issue speed picked (or galloping) riffs with big synth chords overtop, a boatload of double kick pedaling, and massive choruses that've got a choir singing behind Joakim Brodén's signature gruff voice. There's one thing Sabaton have pushed the boundaries in, and it's that a power metal singer doesn't have to wear pants tight enough to shoot their voices up three octaves.

From cover to cover it follows the history of Sweden when they actually ruled over things (other than the entire genre of death metal). It follows the rise and fall of a certain war hungry leader named Karl XII or (surprise!) Carolus Rex. There are two versions of this album, one in Swedish, and one in English. I've only heard the English version, so I can't say which is better (my guess is the Swedish one, cause vocals in the albums released in the band's mother tongue usually flow better).

Carolus Rex is a Sabaton album in every way. It's big, cheesy fun all wrapped up in solid heavy metal. As far as song content goes, it's everything you can expect. A synth only intro track, a handful of mid-tempo "stand power-stanced on top of a mountain side swaying your nation's flag proud in the sunset" songs, and a whole armada's worth of speedy tracks that get you a-headbangin'.

The only gripe I have with Primo Victoria Attero Dominatus The Art of War Coat of Arms Carolus Rex is that since Sabaton will be Sabaton, it all sounds just like every other Sabaton album. While the classic Sabaton sound isn't such a bad thing, once every album starts becoming almost indistinguishable from each other, I think it's time to shake things up musically. At least they took the baby step to move away from the WWII lyrics.

Bomb-Ass Tracks

A Lifetime of War: The first flag-waving song on the album really put it home. All that power ballad-esque synth orchestra really jerks my tears. Seriously, this is a sweet song.

Carolus Rex: This song 's got one of the best Sabaton choruses I've heard since The Art of War's "40:1". And everyone knows the greatness of a Sabaton song is by how good it's chorus is.

Twilight of the Thunder God: Yeah. A fucking Amon Amarth cover. And it's pretty God damn sweet. It's a bonus track that I was only able to find it on YouTube, so I'm not sure exactly which edition of the album has it.

On a Playlist With: Blind Guardian, Sonata Arctica, Stratovarius

Overall Score


Sabaton put together another album of fist pumping, headbanging fury. Again. If you're really into Sabaton or their style of power metal, you'll love this. If you aren't really into it, there are still some pretty cool moments on this album for you to enjoy.

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