It's wild how it's been 3 years since the last Sabaton album. Pandemic adjusted it's ~1 year I guess. In between we've had a few singles in which have been somewhere between Fine and This Has Aged Poorly.
On first listen I wasn't impressed so I've given it a lot more time before committing opinions to the blog, listening to it a lot.
First I'll break down what I think of each track, then the album as a whole, and finally something about what I want from Sabaton these days.
Stormtroopers starts with a brutal intro, reminiscent of pre-Carolus Rex. It's got a good pace which would go down well live. The "ahhhhhh ahhhh" section would be a great moment to get the crowd going. The first track being about new tactics echoes The Future of Warfare from the last album. Pretty good.
Dreadnought, if you want a stompy track about ships you should listen to Bismarck as it has better hooks and solos. Meh.
The Unkillable Soldier was released as a single before and I didn't like it. I don't think I like it now. The "shot through the eye" bridge/chorus feels incredibly awkward. There's a weird mirror symmetry in the lyrics in "Save the day, he'll never stray/ .... / Come his way, he'll never stray" which I'm not a fan of. I do however find myself humming the "At the edge of madness..." chorus to myself without thinking. Not great.
Soldier of Heaven. Another track that was released as a single. Those opening synth/drums feel very Battle Beast so I'm already in. Joakim with powerful vocals about a final stand are always a good opening. The chorus comming in with "sent from above" are totally Chefs Kiss. The chorus is a thing we'll be bellowing about 2/3rds through a set list with hoarse voices. Cracking melodic solo. BANGER.
Hellfighters opens with another brutal riff. Very good. Some excellent delivery from Joakim once again. Solos are also very aggressive and evoke much earlier albums. I really enjoyed this track but it's not one you're going to shout at a gig.
Race To The Sea is one of those tracks where Joakim tries to fit too many syllables into a line. Brilliant. The Battle of the Yser is an pretty iconic and I'm glad they covered it. Banger.
Lady of the Dark. Ooft. Banger. Those natural harmonics. That chorus. It's going to be awesome live, especially that key change. Pär has some bass action here too. Contender for best track of the album. Also I'm sure it'll boil some nerd piss by being about a woman.
The Valley of Death is the other contender. Big party bop like 82nd All the Way. Has an interesting rhythm the quadruple "Again". Best melodic solo on the album, very haunting then switching into shred. Phwoar! Also the way Joakim says Bulgaria & Doiran is just great.
Christmas Truce was also a single. It was bad then, it's bad now. It's that Sainsbury's Christmas advert. Clanger.
Did someone accidentally take Versailles off the History Edition album and put it on the real one? The narration wasn't good in The Art of War and it's even worse here. I've always joked that Sabaton are Wikipedia-Metal but this takes the piss. The worst track they've ever put out. It makes the weakest ending pair of any album.
Right. So that's the songs covered. Some of the highest highs but also the lowest lows. I think maybe two concept albums about World War 1 in a row is too much. I really hope they do something different for the next album. Something radical like Calorus Rex.
What do I really want from a new Sabaton album these days though? I've mentioned it in a few tracks but I'm really just wanting songs that craft the perfect hype-sing-along gigs. I saw Less Than Jake this week and it was incredible to sing along with an entire set list. It's something I didn't know I was missing. I hope that the delayed Sabaton gig in 2023 will be incredible.