Album review: SABATON – Heroes

Sabaton - Heroes

Nuclear Blast – Out Now

When you are signed to one of Metal’s biggest record labels, your albums enjoy first class promotion around the globe by being made available in various lavish formats and the last major tour you undertook was in support of a band like Iron Maiden then there is absolutely nothing to complain about, right?

What the Swedish noise merchants Sabaton have achieved these last few years, however, should not simply be attributed to good luck as albums like 2012’s “Carolus Rex” involved both talent  and a lot of hard work on the part of the band.

With Peter Tagtgren (Hypocrisy / Pain) once again on production and mixing duties and his famous Abyss studios as the working environment of choice, the Swedish quintet has prepared a new studio album featuring ten energy and melody-driven infused compositions for your pleasure and entertainment – an album entitled “Heroes”.

As far as the style of the new album is concerned, no major departure from what you guys have been used to on albums like “Coat Of Arms” and “Carolus Rex” is to be reported here.

Classic crunchy riffs, light orchestral arrangements and melody-driven vocals have always informed the band’s music and these are the same strengths that Sabaton are again playing to here.

Peter Tagtgren’s masterful production has truly benefited the massive-sounding straight-forward riffs of the guitar duet of Chris Rörland and Thobbe Englund and Joakim Brodén’s powerful vocal deliveries (the ones who will soon be singing along to), have provided this battle-themed album with the right levels of energy and atmosphere.

Immediate in its appeal and dynamic in tempo, “Night Witches” is a head banging tune which is ideal as the opening track of this album.

Built upon layers of melodic guitars and featuring one of the catchiest vocal themes of the album in its chorus, “No Bullets Fly” is a crowd-pleaser in its making while the more generic Power Metal tune “Smoking Snakes”, though less impressive than its predecessors, manages to keep a healthy momentum going.

Slow in tempo and led by a melancholic keyboard melody, “Inmate 4859” offers a touch of drama to this album, while the Folky tune of “To Hell And Back” provides a welcome break from the high velocity riffing of the previous songs.

The second half of the album begins with a piano-led ballad entitled “The Ballad Of Bull”, a composition that I found very boring if I’m to be honest with you, but things improved significantly, courtesy of the flamboyant lead melodies of the follow-up tune “Resist And Bite”.

“Soldier Of 3 Armies” is a power booster of a song with a killer riff which stands out as one of the album’s highlights and the closing duet of “Far From The Fame” / “Hearts Of Iron” contain enough quality moments to provide this impressive album with the kind on ending that it really deserves.

Pompous, melody-driven, fist-raising Power Metal from the old continent is, on paper, not the style of music that I am naturally drawn to and that’s why I always found my attraction to the music of Sabaton a bit of a mystery.

Then again, “Heroes” is the kind of album whose simplicity and honesty overrides all traces of common sense – an album whose sound may be modern and polished but whose heart beats in Metal tempos and themes from times gone by.

If you’re looking for a soundtrack for a great night out with your mates, then Sabaton may just have the solution to your problem.

John Stefanis

Rating: **** (4.0/5.0)

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