The Swedes are back, doing what they do very well indeed, providing bombastic power metal with lyrics pertaining to their favourite subject, war. This time around we have two versions to choose from, namely a standard release and the “History Edition”. The difference between the two is the former has just the music, while the latter has some spoken explanation between each piece so that the listener has some of the background. I was somewhat surprised to see they had done this, as I would have thought the History Edition was the way to go, but I guess there are some who just want the music, and others who will have to buy both so in terms of sheer commerciality it makes good sense.
The narrator is Bethan Dixon Bate, and she provides just the right amount of gravitas to the role, not adding any excitement as there is no need – as soon as she finishes peaking the war machine which is Sabaton are there to take over. This is another band who always produce a huge sound, with singer Joakim Brodén both at the head of the band and also at the helm as he is tasked with ensuring the sound is just right. I note with interest that one of the supporting singers is Floor Jansen, I bet she had a blast. Multi-tracked backing vocals makes one think that at times they have a huge choir supporting them, and they would need to be big indeed to cope with the over the top (boys we go!) approach. But even though it is a huge sound there is always a tremendous sense of melody, and music which really grooves along. This is metal with purpose, not a direct assault to the sense but rather one that ensures the listeners keep turning up the volume so the neighbours can also join in the fun.
The guitars are quite intricate, while the rhythm section keeps it nailed to the floor, and all one can do is smile even though the subject is no laughing matter whatsoever. Sabaton have long set out their stall, as they play a certain type of metal with a certain type of lyric, but there is no-one in this particular field who can live with them. Sabaton continue to deliver the goods some 20 years on, and long may it continue.