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Sabaton - Heroes

Label: Nuclear Blast
Format: CD download
Released: 2014
Reviewed By: Mark Gromen
Rating: 8.5/ 10


Already on record that “Carolus Rex”, their national historical flight of fancy, was less than a great Sabaton platter. Returning to a wide spread canvas, albeit paradoxically almost exclusively surrounding armed military conflict, the Swedes are back on track! Once again trying to connect with countries that support the band, the rousing, sing-along anthems are a little less personal this time around (in that they tend to avoid specific individuals). Lasting just 38 minutes, only three cuts exceed four minutes (and then, just barely).

 

The new collection kicks off with ‘Night Witches’: a term of endearment for the relatively unknown group of Soviet female bomber pilots, instrumental in the early defense of Russia, with German perched on Moscow’s doorstep, in ’41. It’s the first tune to rival ‘Ghost Division’ as a legitimate concert starter. Can already envision hyperactive singer Joakim Broden, zipping around the stage, as the camo-pants outfit behind him headbangs furiously. ‘Smoking Snakes’ is dedicated to WWII unit from Brazil, the only independent South American country to fight in that global conflict. A more subdued ‘Inmate 4859’ refers Polish Captain, Witold Pilecki, who volunteered (!) to become a captive in Auschwitz, then smuggled out info to the resistance, as well as trying to defeat the Nazi from the inside. ‘To Hell And Back’ refers to American soldier Audie Murphy (later a Hollywood Western movie star), one of WWII’s most decorated combatants, who wrote a first-hand account with the same title. The grandiose, piano accompanied operatics for ‘The Ballad Of Bull’ would seem more at home on a TSO disc. Speaking of influences, ‘Resist And Bite’, has an AC/DC guitar undercurrent. Overall, the staccato melody is something new. Ship righted, ‘Soldier Of 3 Armies’ commences with a drum roll, courtesy of former Evergrey skinsman Hannes van Dahl, the fourth man behind the kit since 2012! A Czech war hero is impetus for the fist-thrusting ‘Far from The Fame’, a winner through and through, before ‘Hearts Of Iron’, which appropriately enough concerns the end of WWII and protecting the surrendering German soldiers modern German fans something to be proud of, without condoning the deeds of their ancestors (a tight-rope walk of epic proportions): “It’s the end, the war has been lost…Dispossessed, surrendering to the West. It’s not about the Reich, it’s about the men who fought for them.

What peace can they expect?” Don’t know what drum you march to, but step in line behind Sabaton.

 
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