Sabaton - Heroes (Nuclear Blast)

Back to doing what they do best...
Release Date: 
16 May 2014 (All day)

Ridiculous. But then, Heroes is a Sabaton album, and would we want them any other way? I suspect not. Having ditched last album Carolus Rex’s attempt to retell Swedish military history via the gift of heavy metal, Sabaton are back into more familiar territory with Heroes. From the Weird War Tales type cover onwards it’s World War Two all the way and – guess what? – It’s bloody brilliant.

The best thing about Sabaton is that they don’t mess about – ten songs, thirty eight minutes and not a note wasted. The best tracks (and I don’t know whether this is a coincidence or not), No Bullets Fly and Soldier of 3 Armies, have a distinct Judas Priest feel to them, something I’ve not particularly detected from this band before, but even when the band dips dangerously close to Powerwolf territory – as they do on the perkily tuneful Smoking Snakes – songwriting quality is upheld. 

Surprisingly, apart from the two tracks mentioned already, the album standout is a piano-led ballad, The Ballad of Bull. A heartstring-twanging paean to selfless bravery, it’s the sort of heartfelt tribute Joey DeMaio wishes he could write but doesn’t quite have the balls. Or Bulls, for tht matter. Sorry.

But …Bull aside, you won’t find too many keyboards or much frilly orchestration. Producer Peter Tagtgren has given the band a shiny, metallic veneer, but he’s also managed to capture the live power this band always shows when treading the boards. Consequently this is, I’d have to say, the most exciting Sabaton album to listen to in terms of sonics in a long time. And then of course, there’s all the background reading you can do as a bit of research on the tales told here by the incomparable storyteller Joakim Boden – All ten tracks here take fascinating stories as their inspiration, and if you’ve the time and/or interest to investigate them I guarantee you’ll be enthralled, moved and inspired in equal measure. Heavy Metal education!

2014 is set to be a big year in Sabaton’s chosen field, with an absolute avalanche of true/power metal releases of high quality already out in the field – and with heavyweights like HammerFall, Accept and Helloween yet to release their albums for the year – but in Heroes the band looks set to be riding high at the movement’s forefront come year end. A peerless release from one of  metal’s fast rising new breed of trad metal, erm, heroes…