For their glory
For the men who fought and bled
A soldier from Sweden remembers the dead"
One Word Review: Excellent
The Swedish historians are back, this time concentrating on the history of their homeland from the year 1611 until 1718, a time where Sweden brought conquest and war to most countries in the northern part of Europe.
For all those who like their power metal with a dual guitar attack, a dash of keyboards, a focus on memorable melodies, rough, impressive vocals and an affection for historical battles, then it doesn’t get better than this. Sabaton continue their streak of excellent albums with Carolus Rex.
As usual, they don’t go for the easiest route. On their "The art of war" album they successfully translated the famed Chinese military treatise to music and the effort they put into this showed. This time they have recorded their album in both English and Swedish. The limited edition includes both albums. I've been listening to the English version of the album over the past months and for the past few weeks it has grown immensely, to the point that I have been listening to it constantly and have become completely hooked to its sound, songs and overall atmosphere. Carolus Rex shines with much power and conviction.
After a short intro Lion from the north opens the album by rolling over the listener like a high-speed tank on a vengeance streak. Gott mit uns follows up with melody and an almost folkish dance beat. No, I don't think that came out quite right, but I'm sure it will be a live favorite. A lifetime of war is slow and brooding, the exact opposite of the song that follows it.
1648 quickly became my personal favorite. The song has a superb drive and builds extremely well to its chorus. The bridge section that opens with "The road to the city has been blocked" and the choir forcefully chanting "Denied" immediately made an impression. When Sabaton nails this kind of feeling, I am reminded why I think they are one of the best things to happen to Power metal for a long time. They know exactly what works and they don't overdo it.
Carolus Rex, the title track is as heavy as they come. This song has an omnipotent power and unleashes it with held back fury and total conviction. The song has an amazing drum sound and a neck-breaking crunch to the guitar riffs. The way Joakim sings the words of the song gives the impression that he is drawing every ounce of power from each word. Add to that a monstrous choir and you have a song that crushes anything in its wake.
Poltava is another favorite. The way the song builds to its chorus and serves it is impressive. The chorus becomes one of the most memorable of the album, as it takes all that built-up tension and successfully captures the fearful and gut-wrenching feeling of defeat. This is done with an overwhelming sense of dread. Just perfect.
The above three songs are current favorites but the rest are not far behind.
Killing Ground is merciless in its powerful attack on the senses. I love the way Joakim roars the word "Tuuuuuurn" in the chorus. Brutal and excellent.
Long Live The King has a fitting, huge melody line, which is brought to life in its massive chorus.
Joakim Brodén's vocals are as good as ever. I especially love it when he lets it all out and roars like a wild boar. Just listen to lines like "Frederikshald, what happened here, will it ever come to life?" or "A soldier from Sweden remembers the dead" from Long Live the King or "My time is now" during Carolus Rex
Ok, so overall I miss a few faster songs. There is no 40:1 or Screaming Eagles on this album, even though a few songs come close. Instead the album has a coherent atmosphere between the songs, extreme heaviness and consistent high quality song writing all the way through. That is just as important and spotlights the evolution the band has gone through.
The production is pretty good with the sound being compact and impenetrable. The packaging of the limited edition is also very well done with extended liner notes.
Overall Carolus Rex is a totally excellent release and a worthy addition to the growing Sabaton catalogue. I am hoping to catch their concert in Copenhagen in October in order to get my next Sabaton fix. I already wonder what they will come up with for their next album.
And finally, thank god for a concept album without narration!
Written By Steen
Online: Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 22, 2012 - Added music videos for Carolus Rex and A Lifetime of War
A Lifetime Of War