Hello there and welcome in to the marvellous world of power metal.
To some it up a bit:
- Huge battles.
- Saving the princes. (or was this Super Mario?)
- High vocals.
- Amazing guitar work.
- People playing D&D at 35 and still living with their parents.
Yes, an awesome genre?
Pretty good indeed, although very cheesy at times.
I like cheese a lot, don't get me wrong. French Brie, Dutch Gouda cheese and even Swedish Blue, but power metal cheese is quite different. This is what keeps me away from most power metal. But now I present Sabaton, a relative newcomer in the metal scene. Formed in 1999 already, due to issues with their first label, they didn't release a cd till 2002.
This cd wasn't very well promoted I think, at least I've never heard of it.
Now on another label they released this cd by the name of Primo Victoria.
To promote this cd they went on tour supporting Dragonforce, a well known name in the power metal genre. That's when they finally grabbed my attention, I was going to attend this gig and wanted a few samples of them before going to the gig. Those samples were catchy like hell, (What did you expect from this genre ;) ) but something was different. It didn't give me the dragon slaying vibe, nor the image of a guitarist standing on top of a hill with his hair untied and a fan blowing below him.
What some power metal lacks in my opinion is the element giving the very name to this genre:POWER!
A lot of power metal sounds a bit like warrior 'brothers' hugging each other at a battlefield after a victory and the image of band members in leather pants doesn't make this image any less. Now Sabaton cut right through the cheese and throws overboard some elements very typical for power metal. One of the first things you'll notice at the very beginning of the cd is a man, singing acapella. The first few words that are sung already made me question if this was power metal. Low, manly vocals kick off this cd. No high pitched vocals as we are used to hear. For me, this is quite a relief. I love vocals of many sorts; low pitched, high pitched, shrieked, tortured, guttural, opera style, whisper like. All is good for me. But to hear a different approach in the vocal area of a power metal cd makes me smile. Also, this man doesn't sing about dragons and wizards, but about war, modern day war. Here a few lines of the lyrics from the title song of this album:
"Through the gates of Hell, as we make our way to heaven, through the Nazi lines; Prima Victoria".
The vocals and the lyrics may be different, but Sabaton doesn't loose any catchiness with this release. You will often find yourself humming along with the chorus of the tracks on this cd. Each and every song is catchy as hell, the nice upbeat songs never fail to make you happy. One of the other things worth mentioning is that they don't seem to be influenced by super Nintendo soundtracks like some power metal bands. The tempo of the songs isn't as insanely high all the time and the solos are good and are played with emotion.
The songs are consistent and never over the top, most of the time building towards a big powerful climax, that doesn't always has to be a solo. Like most power metal bands, Sabaton also has a keyboardist, who does a good job at intros and some (way too short) solos, but on the title track his fuzzy synth sound is very annoying. Besides the title track I have no complaint about the use of the keys. Most of the time, slow choir like sounds are played by the keyboardist, the guitars are the instruments that shine on this release. Which is a bit of a shame, power metal keyboardists are often forced in to the background in favour of the guitarists. The bass can hardly be heard, but this is no new issue in power metal and nothing that bothers me. The drums are nice and upbeat, the intro of Counterstrike is awesome and for that alone I give the drummer credit.
For me Sabaton is a welcome surprise in the world of power metal, throwing overboard a few elements that seem so 'normal' for power metal. They have the guts to try something new and do it without forgetting they're still playing power metal. If you're not a big fan of power metal, try this cd, cause there isn't all that much cheese on this cd.
Good consistent power metal with a big ;)