With six studio albums in their arsenal through the period of well over a decade, Swedish power metal kings Sabaton show no sign of relenting. They continue on the subject of war, this time focusing on their homeland and the biographical tale of Gustavus Adolphus Magnus (The Lion Of The North), and Charles XII, also known as Carolus Rex.
Carolus Rex isn’t arrogant in its approach to giving us a history lesson plus superb album in one; this is perhaps one where you have to pay attention to the lyrics to gain a sense of atmosphere that guitars and drums can’t quite reach. The first single is of course the title track, and it depicts Charles –at the tender age of 15 years old- becoming king, and over eagle-like soaring guitars and pounding war drums you immediately picture the open battlefield before him and his men. Take second single A Lifetime Of War for example, where Joakim and his army of choristers sing solemnly about bringing their dead king back to their fatherland after a literal lifetime of war. Long Live The King goes into detail about how he dies; Joakim giving his all to convey frustration and grief in his singing.
Sabaton have always been tactful in their portrayal of all participants of a war and this album is no different, from the victoriously bounding Gott Mit Uns to describing the king’s faltering at the Battle of Poltava. Poltava is a desperate and vicious battle of music and words, Joakim snarling, “Fear me! Or you’ll die by my sword!” is hard to ignore as the seething threat rings in your ears. These are definitely songs to listen out for on future tours.
You won’t find a new Coat Of Arms or 40:1 here however each song interlocks with each other, much alike a battle formation, supporting from beginning to end, and the result is a pretty solid album which shows Sabaton are maturing and honing their skills as musicians. Put in a randomised playlist and you can hear each track holds up well amongst their previous successes. Technically not much is different in regards to the music itself; Sabaton aren’t ones to shy away from their typical formulaic sound and they are comfortable enough with this consistency under the battle flag of power metal. But despite fans being fiercely loyal, I do wonder if they’ll accept this biographical epic fully for what it is, and not just yearn for another Art Of War. Still, the history buff in me loves it and I’ve certainly learnt a thing for two about their rich Scandinavian heritage.
The playlist is as follows:
01 Dominium Maris Baltici – 0:29
02 The Lion From the North – 4:42
03 Gott Mit Uns – 3:15
04 A Lifetime Of War – 5:45
05 1 6 4 8 – 3:54
06 The Carolean’s Prayer – 6:14
07 Carolus Rex – 4:53
08 Killing Ground – 4:24
09 Poltava – 4:03
10 Long Live The King – 4:09
11 Ruina Imperii – 3:21
Total playing time: – 45:09
At under an hour long it’s short, but very sweet. A personal new favourite of mine and a definite grower for others, this album represents the next chapter for the Sabaton lads and another crushing blow to their musical foes. Long live the kings! 9/10
Carolus Rex is out via Nuclear Blast in both English and Swedish language versions on May 25th. Check Sabaton.net and Planetmosh.com for current news and tour dates.