Released: 2013, Despotz Records
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
Probably up there with the wtf moments of 2012 was the announcement that, with a new album on the way, the majority of Sabaton were being released from duty. Instead of waving the white flag of surrender though, Daniel Mÿhr, Daniel Mullback, Oskar Montelius, and Rikard Sundén came marching back into battle with a new band - Civil War.
If you were anxious, then that name should stick a pin in your inflated fears because joined by the voice of Nils Patrick Johansson, and bass of Stefan Eriksson, the guys continue to rally that historically inspired power metal sound. I have to say I didn’t ‘get’ the album title at first, but upon further reading of the helpful bio it explains how it was borrowed from the novel by Michael Shaara about the battle of Gettysburg. So there you go - there is some link. Not that it matters really, it’s their album they could name it ‘Battle of The Pink Candyfloss Men’ if they wanted.
Of course, this essentially sees them doing battle in the same arena as their former band, and whilst I don’t want to stick a flag either side of the fence I can say Civil War absolutely triumph in this first album. The vocal style of Nils Patrick Johansson falls somewhere between Ronnie James Dio and 3 Inches Of Blood, which isn’t what you were used to in Sabaton, but really puts the final edge on their well polished power metal.
After the ooh-spacey intro, ‘King Of The Sun’ charges in sounding like some lost Dio track, which gives you a brief pang of loss mingled with joy that that torch is still being carried, although its pace is nothing still compared to the gallop of ‘First To Fight’. ‘Saint Patricks Day’’s almost Dropkick Murphy’s Irish-guitar line makes you want to jig as much as headbang, and like the empire it references ‘Rome Is Falling’ conquers all with its rousing chorus.
With grandiose backing ‘I Will Rule The Universe’ plays like the posturings of many a power-hungry figure, think Napoleon yes, and reaching the end of the album we have the slightly reserved chronicling of real life battles in ‘Gettysburg’, which also hands a moment of spotlight to the keyboards. The last hurrah is ‘March Across The Belt’, which is a nice mid-paced number that leaves you lifted, but not at the point of posting a declaration of war through your neighbour’s letterbox. And it’s a history lesson to boot.
Civil War doesn’t exactly lend anymore to the musical world than Sabaton, but it doesn’t need to be grandly different. If you think that in order to make a true statement they should distance themselves from their past work you need to go back and learn your history. These old warriors are masters of their craft and therefore The Killer Angels is the best possible declaration that they could make - one that is true to themselves and true to the audience - and we all like a little honour on the battlefield.
Review by Kirsty Birkett-Stubbs