Released: 2014, Nuclear Blast
Reviewer: Helias Papadopoulos
Sabaton’s HEROES find the band in its finest form. This album strikes a perfect balance between melodicism and might, exelling in commanding songwriting coupled with sturdy musicianship. It is the first album to feature the new Sabaton line-up with guitarists Chris Rörland and Thobbe Englund as well as new drummer Hannes van Dahl after the departure of four members in simultaneous time in 2012.
This loveable Swedish “warlike” heavy/power metal has been honing their position as one of the most popular epic-power purveyors of heavy metal. Sabaton’s sleight-of-hand is revealed in several ways. First, they mesmerize you with their monumental and epic vocal arrangements and the ‘I-make-you-sing-along’ choirs throughout; frankly, it's extraordinary and defines the entire album. Second, Sabaton intrigues you with the masterful inclusion of epic support playing of keyboards into many arrangements. This only makes the epic metal quality more believable.
Musically, there is not a step up for the band. There aren’t any experimentations or expands to other genres and new musical ideas here. They do know how to play the epic heavy/power and prepare you for war! Mid-tempo tunes, guitar solos adequacy, solos that make you sing along, gorgeous keyboards that lay the epic ground before the other instruments, and warrior-like vocals. There isn’t any complexity here, only epic things you can find in HEROES. In the middle of the album we find an epic ballad standing there, “The Ballad of Bull”. This is a nice song and a great tribute to Manowar’s “Heart of Steel”.
Lyrically, the substance is that the HEROES is a really good album, including ten compositions which refer to the corresponding number of war stories of the past (“No Bullets Fly” - Charlie Brown and Franz Stigler Incident, “Inmate 4859” is a Song about Witold Pilecki, soldier of Polish Armia Krajowa. Leader of resistance, hero and inmate No. 4859 in Auschwitz-Birkenau Camp. Also, he was an author of first reports about holocaust, “To Hell and Back” talks about a World War II veteran Audie Murphy, "Soldier of 3 Armies" is about a soldier of the Finnish army), totalling less than 40 minutes.
Even though most metal outfits wallow in the themes of oppression and darkness these days, Sabaton pride themselves on truly inspirational anthems and real stories that happened in the days of war. Joakim Brodén’s heroic tales of overcoming adversities are laced with strong conviction and aplomb, proving that the uplifting qualities have its place in this genre as well. The straightforward title of the record, HEROES, is spot-on as it finely embodies band’s warrior-like attitude and ongoing pursuit for excellence.