Released: 2010, Nuclear Blast Records
Sweden’s Sabaton have been at the forefront of the power metal movement in the last few years. Their debut, PRIMO VICTORIA is seen by many fans as a modern classic, and their follow-up ATTERO DOMINATUS is only slightly less-regarded, mostly because it was seen as more of the same. 2008’s THE ART OF WAR was divisive for fans, as the album had sometimes annoying spoken word lead-ins to every song, and featured I distinct change to the band’s power metal formula as keyboards came to the fore and the song structures became slightly more complex and less immediate. I for one thought the album was brilliant and had it as my #3 album of 2008. Needless to say, I was completely psyched up for a new Sabaton album!
From the opening one-two punch of the title track and “Midway”, it’s clear that fans of the band can rest easy – COAT OF ARMS continues Sabaton’s fine tradition of power metal with bite. The spoken word intros are gone and the band waste no time in kicking ass. Those looking for more in the vein of ART OF WAR will be slightly disappointed as the band has turned back into the lean, mean metal machine that they were on their first couple of albums. So much so, that the album is almost a PRIMO VICTORIA PART III. In fact, there’s even a “Hail to Metal!” song that takes motifs from well-known classics that closes the album, a la the lyrical amusement of “Metal Crue” on ATTERO DOMINATUS.
That said, that band is in fine form throughout and do not disappoint. You listen to a Sabaton album for the pounding marches (“Uprising”) the fast assaults (“Midway”, “Screaming Eagles”), and the catchy hooks and choruses (every damn song!) and COAT OF ARMS has it all. Hopefully they’ll show some progression on their next album, but for now, as before, this is the power metal album of the year.