by Jason Wellwood
Hellbound readers are, no doubt, aware by now that I dig Sabaton. Not that their entire output has made me war-crazy, power metal mad, but their recent albums have certainly found their way into regular rotation on my listening devices. Carolus Rex finds Sweden’s favourite military power metal songsmiths in fine form and feeling a little adventurous. Not that the normal, everyday consumer would know, but Sabaton have recorded two versions of the album, one in English and one completely in their native Swedish. Considering that Carolus Rex is a concept album focusing on Sweden’s ruler Gustav II (The Lion of the North), it makes perfect sense to record a version in Swedish. It’s also great to see the band examine its own country’s history, something most of us don’t know much about compared to Viking lore. Musically, Carolus Rex sees Sabaton carrying on where Coat of Arms left off, increasing the overall catchiness of the album and maybe even bringing the keyboards and orchestration a little more to the fore-front. The songs on Carolus Rex are all sing-along, fist pounders as you would expect from the band, with not a single clunker in the batch. The beauty of Sabaton is really their ability to capture the spirit of the old ‘war time’ songs that soldiers/seamen/airmen would get together and sing in the Mess, and put it into these beautifully orchestrated, epic sounding power metal songs. Sabaton may not have written their masterpiece with Carolus Rex but they have stepped up their game and are seriously setting their sights on world domination. As well, depending on the version you pick you, the band has recorded some excellent covers as bonus tracks: an excellent version of Hamerfall’s ‘Twilight of the Thunder God’, and another (fitting) twist with Status Quo’s ‘In The Army Now’.
It is unfortunate that four members of Sabaton left just prior to the release of Carolus Rex and though this is likely the final album from the version of the band that really hit it big, the band shows no signs of slowing down. If you like hoisting a mug while you sing with your mates and pumping your fist in the air while singing the glories of battle or prefer to imagine yourself with one foot on a monitor, leading a crowd of enthusiastic head bangers in a chorus of “Gott Mitt Uns, As We All Stand United” then you Will LOVE this record. I recommend getting the deluxe version with both languages myself.