Sabaton – Coat of Arms

By Jason Wellwood

I dare say that Sabaton make the most uplifting songs about war this side of ‘The Trooper’! On Coat of Arms, the sixth record for the Swedish warriors but first with a proper North American release, Sabaton focus on the battles of World War II. For many of the band’s younger listeners the war is something they only know from movies or comic books. Older listeners, like myself, remember the haunted look in grandparents’ eyes while speaking of the horrors that they saw. Sabaton’s songs don’t glorify war though, which is what I think draws listeners in. It’s honest, it’s brutal and it’s all done with twin guitar harmonies, huge vocals and one foot firmly planted on the monitor.

The band is not afraid to call it like it is when referencing history (all of Sabaton’s songs are based on historical fact), for example ‘Uprising’ points a finger squarely at the Allies and the fact that they left Poland to the hands of Nazi rule. In ‘The Final Solution’, you can feel the depression and desperation in the air, the verses are oppressively heavy while the chorus tries to give you a feeling of hope, of uplifting but it’s just out of grasp.

‘Wehrmacht’ is also a heavy, plodding number asking ‘were the Nazi’s madmen or simply blinded by the propaganda machine?’ ‘Metal Ripper’ is the one really odd track on the album. It’s almost a tribute to all of the post-war bands that England brought forth, with lyrics lifted from Ozzy Osbourne, Iron Maiden, Queen, Judas Priest (and I’d like to say Dokken but that can’t be right at all). In any case, the song is anthemic and uplifting. The sequencing on this album is such that the songs lift you up and drop you down, never letting you get a proper handle on what might come next. It keeps you off balance and for my money, that’s a hallmark of a good record.

Sabaton are power metal, there is no doubt, but there isn’t an ounce of cheese to this band. Okay, maybe one. Singer Joakim Broden could have picked a less ridiculous shirt for his picture in the liner notes (It reads: Dip Me In Chocolate And Throw Me To The Lesbians), but that doesn’t affect the music on this album at all.

(Nuclear Blast)

http://www.myspace.com/sabaton

Rating: 8.5

Sean Palmerston

Sean is the founder/publisher of Hellbound.ca; he has also written about metal for Exclaim!, Metal Maniacs, Roadburn, Unrestrained! and Vice.