Review Summary: "The Boar against the Eagle!"
Sabaton are a great asset for modern heavy metal music. Let's start with that. Sabaton are huge in Europe, opening up to new markets, traditionally aligned with the european sound, like Brazil and Japan. Every new release by Sabaton is a big deal for the european metal crowd. Since we straightened this out, we have to pinpoint that it's not breaking news to any Sabaton fan that their albums have great similarities as far as songwriting is concerned.
Given these facts, we can begin this analysis with some general remarks. There is not more repetitiveness in this release than in any previous Sabaton album. On the contrary, there are a few new elements here, both to intros and organs involved and also in the vocal melodies (see among others "Resist and Bite"). The entire album is well executed, featuring heavy and powerful production and the new drummer picks up where his predecessors set the tone. This is nor as melodic and majestic, nor as folk -influenced as the landmark "Carolus Rex" (probably their best release, neck on neck with "The Art of War"). It is fresh though and above all, it's Sabaton and heavy to the point of speakers and ground shaking. The famous epic choir singing interludes are present once again and the guitar work is excellent. Though the solos are better overall, in some points ("No bullets Fly", "To Hell and Back"), they seem to be a bit mismatching, like having being conceived before the rest of the song.
The lyrical themes turn around from Swedish history to meet (again) their famous WW2 thematology. This is known territory for Sabaton and i don't find something wrong with that. Fortunately (or unfortunately) WW2 is full of stories, deserved to be told. Parts in latin are again included, this story goes back to "Primo Victoria" and they do that with great succes. Probably in their next release, they will explore some other war history territory.
So, what is this about? "Night Witches" kick off the frenzy, in the same way as "Ghost Division" did ("The Art of War"). Heavy riffing, speedy tempo, uplifting crowd- friendly chorus, well placed interlude and solo. Great introduction. "No bullets fly", mid tempo anthem, crashing riffs, heavy as a panzer. Both the double guitar and keys' parts, after the solo, are astonishing. "Smoking Snakes" pick up the pace as "Aces in Exile" did (in the "Coat of Arms") and add up to the ongoing mayhem. The ending of the chorus is a bit mellow, but the interlude restores us back to order. "Inmate 4859" is introduced by a ticking sound reminiscent of "Time" (Mercufyl Fate). What follows up is amazing, crashing riffs pounding and earmeltening. This is the type of songs where Brodén really shines out. Gradually building up strength and power. The solo is amazing. "To Hell and Back" is a tribute to Ennio Morricone (as far as the main musical theme of the song). Just fantastic, uplifting, melodic, a tune to whistle along. "The ballad of Bull" is a tribute to the songwriting procedure used for ballads by Manowar (of the later period). Eric Adams could have joined in any moment of this majestically played composition. "Resist and Bite" borrows Maiden's lead guitaring and concludes in a typical Sabaton thundering chorus. Interlude again, magnificent... "Soldier of 3 Armies" rides on fast pace and features a distinguishable slow intersection. "Far from the Fame" is no novelty either. Probably the track resembling mostly to their previous work "Carolus Rex", more melodic than the rest of the album. "Hearts of Iron" is galloping and well executed, a fine ending to the end of the war (as the lyrics).
In conclusion, this is not their most effective machine-gun, nevertheless it is (once) again very solid. It maybe a bit short in length, but capable enough to attract big crowds to their european tours. Absolute must - have for their fans and one of the best releases for 2014 for the true/heavy/traditional metal audience. This is how heavy metal should be played in 2014. Not recommended to any other audiences.
P.S. accurate rating 3.9/5