Released: 2011, Nuclear Blast
Sabaton has long been a favorite here at Metal-Rules.com. Every album has been well received by our reviewers. The bands successful four album run on Black Lodge, the band caught the eyes and ears of Nuclear Blast who released COAT OF ARMS last year which made our staffs collective Top 20 for 2010. Knowing a good thing when they hear it, Nuclear Blast has given the bands entire catalogue the reissue treatment with the ‘Re-Armed Series’. It seems the North American pressing has retained the original cover art, which is a better choice because I personally don’t like it when a label tampers with the cover art for reissues. Would Leonardo DaVinci go back and add a mustache to the Mona Lisa? I think not. Some pressings have the altered cover, but thankfully not mine.
I’m not going to focus too heavily on the albums themselves because our various staff members have already written a number of fine reviews of the original albums. I highly recommend you check out those reviews in our database. For the new fans, North Americans who found it hard to get the original pressings, or for those existing fans who want to know if picking up the reissues are worth it, please read on! Having said that, I am going to discuss METALIZER in a bit more detail because it is the only album that was not previously reviewed on this site.
This one is a bit of a weird one and we need a quick history lesson. Sabaton’s debut album FIST FOR FIGHT came out in 2000 as an independent release. Then it was released in 2001 on the small, but prestigious Italian label Underground Symphony with alternate art. I had a chance to buy it when it came out over 10 years ago but for whatever reason I passed on it and regret that now! The band was never truly satisfied with FIST FOR FIGHT and decided to re-record it in 2002. It was shelved and eventually released on Black Lodge in 2007 with new art and a new title of METALIZER with new artwork. As a bonus Black Lodge included the original album (a class move) so fans could compare. So here it is being reissued again for a third (!) time in the two-disc edition. I’m sure out there, somewhere, some die-hard Sabaton fan has all four versions. I don’t really consider the FIST FOR FIGHT bonus tracks at all they are previously available in the three other pressings. Still however, those three pressings are admittedly rare so it makes sense to have these tracks included here.
So let’s clarify once and for all. FIST FOR FIGHT was and is the bands debut album. Don’t let the revisionists fool ya! It was released to the public (twice) and available for sale so it is not just a demo collection and it not really ‘bonus tracks’ on METALIZER. Then they re-recorded it with the same producer, Tommy Tagtgren in the same studio slapped a new cover on it and called it METALIZER. It’s basically the same album. METALIZER dropped off the intro, the outro and a song called ‘The Hammer Has Fallen’ and added three songs, ‘Thundergods’, ‘7734’ and ‘Speeder’. The real reason is that Underground Symphony owned the rights to FIST FOR FIGHT and to avoid that trap the band re-recorded it. METALIZER got held up in legal wrangling for 5 years before seeing the light of day on their new label (Black Lodge) in 2007 where they added yet another track called ‘Birds Of War’.
So, let’s look at the debut FIST FOR FIGHT, (Disc Two) I’ve read reviews that say the bands early sound was fundamentally different, but I don’t agree. Sabaton locked into their signature style quite early on. Sure there are subtle differences, but it is all still the same glorious churnin’ and burnin’ Heavy Metal to the core. I really enjoyed the self-referential lyrics of the title track setting the tone for other ’Metal’ songs in the future of their catalogue such as ‘Metal Machine’ and ‘Metal Crue’.
Next up METALIZER (Disc One). Obviously the highlight are the four ‘new’ tracks that were not on the original pressing. All of them make the grade, consistent quality that have come to expect from the band. My fave of the four new ones is probably ‘Speeder’ naturally a fast one! The production is admittedly bigger and better even though there was nothing really wrong with the first time around.
Lastly of the four true bonus tracks we get a cover of Priests ‘Jawbreaker’. I might complain about the unadventurous choice as I already have heard several other covers of the same tune (Rage, Siebenburgen, Adagio, Fury) but a good song is a good song and they do a fine version. ‘Dream Destroyer’ is the other ‘new’ track from the METALIZER sessions and it is decent enough. Then we get one more live cut and a demo. Of the four albums in the reissue series this is the one that has the most historical relevance for fans of the band. Well done.