Review: Sabaton – Heroes

Location: Falun, Sweden
Genre: Power Metal
Released: May 16, 2014
Format Reviewed: FLAC
Feature: Traveler In Time

By: Kris Kotlarik

I almost forgot about this one. Sabaton thought they could pull a fast one and release a “deluxe” version of Heroes in 2015 with a bunch of live tracks, except I already had the “deluxe” version of this album when it was released last year. In this version, the second disc consists of three covers that I could have done without listening to (including an awful cover of Metallica’s “For Whom The Bell Tolls”) and two “original” tracks, one of which is another one of Sabaton’s metal tribute songs (this one to Manowar) and the other being a remade song from a previous album. So really, let’s just skip that disc, shall we?

At this point, Sabaton has three things going for them:

-In terms of entertaining metal bands in a live setting, few can rival them.They also tour at a brutal rate; the only other band that I can think of to hit Columbus as often as Sabaton has is Kishi Bashi.

-With respect to lyricism, most of their tracks revolve around very specific events in warfare. In Heroes, they decided to look at individual war heroes who were heroic in different ways. For those who think that metal lyrics are nonsense, this band may help change your opinion.

-I can’t believe I’m saying this, but the production from this album is an immense improvement over their previous album, Carolus Rex. They seem to have gotten the memo that making your albums unnecessarily loud might be a liability, and that shows in this mix.

All that said, the band’s songwriting peaked during Carolus Rex, which I regard as a fluke since Coat Of Arms marked a significant decline from their best album, The Art of War. Most of the “power” elements that made The Art of War and Primo Victoria fantastic power metal works have been stripped away. Occasionally, this is effective; “To Hell and Back” features lengthy nontraditional metal instrumentation that blends in quite well with the usual Sabaton sound. Then there are songs like “The Ballad of Bull,” which is adequately described by its name (unfortunately for Leslie Allen), and is so unbelievably cheesy that it just overtook Wisconsin as the leading cheese producer. Similarly, “Inmate 4859,” a song about the story of a man who voluntarily went to Auschwitz as part of the Polish resistance movement, is a plodding borefest.

Everything else is somewhere in the middle; “Soldier of 3 Armies” sounds like the perfect idea for a Sabaton concept album and has some potential, while the intro to “Night Witches” initially had me thinking I was about to listen to some kind of “dance metal” album. There’s a lot of decent and catchy material, but much like fellow Swedes Amaranthe, it’s largely forgettable.

Overall: Preserving history does not excuse unoriginal songwriting.

Rating: 2.0*

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