Words and pictures by Kyle Moore, the Metal Magnus
The Gothic Theater – Denver, CO
May 14th, 2017
My interest in Sweden’s SABATON came from word-of-mouth that their live show was absolutely not to be missed. Listening to their songs online didn’t really do much for me, though I admit that they were catchy and well-crafted. On this warm evening, Denver’s Gothic theater was utterly mobbed. The show was completely sold out, with the line to get into the venue stretching a couple blocks. The crowd’s excitement was palpable.
Up first was Finland’s BATTLE BEAST, an entity that I was utterly unfamiliar with. Without a doubt, they put on a fantastic show.
They were met by a rabid, screaming crowd that kept chanting “BA-TTLE BEAST, BA-TTLE BEAST” for their whole set. Vocalist Noora Louhimo could easily challenge Doro Pesch to be the new queen of power metal with her extraordinary performance and fantastic voice.
The other band members looked pleased as punch to be performing for such a huge mob of enthusiastic supporters. Keyboardist Janne Björkroth especially won me over with his idiosyncratic trucker hat.
Musically, the band left me pretty cold. It’s formulaic Euro-power metal, with similar hooks to what you’d expect from most Finnish bands. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the hell out of their show!
Straight to the Heart
Bringer of Pain
Lost in Wars
Bastard Son of Odin
King for a Day
Beyond the Burning Skies
I recently reviewed Scandinavian power metal group LEAVE’S EYES a couple months ago when they toured alongside SONATA ARCTICA. Their show was identical to the last time and their setlist was nearly the same, so I won’t say much. Frontman Alexander Krull still looks and acts like a big scary Viking. He also again asked the crowd to scream like Viking warriors, as well as making his “we’re all one metal family” comment again. His female counterpart Elina Siirala still sounds like Tarja Turunen, and her voice still clashes with what the band’s music is going for.
Halvdan the Black
Swords in Rock
Edge of Steel
Hell to the Heavens
Fires in the North
Even before they take the stage, SABATON knows how to get one’s attention. The stage is decked out in camo-covered boxes, with mic stands modified with an army helmet and an M-16. SABATON is all about war, war, war, but in almost an educational way. The band cares deeply about military history, so while you’re banging your head, you might pick up some knowledge about the siege of Stalingrad, or any one of the many battles fought in both World Wars. As a fan of history, I think this is pretty neat.
Once catapulted onstage, SABATON made themselves immediate masters of the maniacal audience. Frontman Joakim Broden is as fine a frontman as any I’ve ever seen. Like the previous bands, he commented on the size and exuberant enthusiasm of the sold-out crowd. He and the rest of the band looked overjoyed to be there, like they were having the best evening of their lives. Bassist Pär Sundström was especially enthusiastic. This is unfortunately uncommon with many metal bands, who too often bury themselves in growling and headbanging, all the while forgetting to HAVE FUN!
SABATON’s joie de vivre was infectious, even though I found their music mundane. It’s understandably hard to reduce the complexities of devastating geopolitical conflicts into catchy melodies, though chanting “SLAUGHTER! PERSIANS!” on the Leonidas-inspired tune “Sparta” sure was fun. My personal highlight was when Mr Broden grabbed a guitar and started playing Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” during an interlude: he’s not a shabby guitarist! He also made a fan’s day when he grabbed said fan’s phone, filmed himself singing, and then returned the phone to the fan. Little touches of “fan service” like that can really make someone’s night unforgettable.
See y’all next time!