Tomorrow, Swedish metal band, Sabaton, will be releasing their seventh album, “Carolus Rex.” It sounds like grim things went down in their camp as everyone but singer Joakim Brodén recently left the band. I have heard many times of a singer quitting a band, but not so many instances of the entire band quitting and leaving the singer with the band name. I do not see anything that says for sure, but I am going forward with the assumption that the band recorded this new album before quitting and that the replacement band members will be touring the album. If anyone knows the story behind this, please feel free to share.
My first taste of Sabaton came when I received a copy of their second album, “Primo Victoria” back in 2005. I was immediately swept up by the anthemic power metal with gruff almost Running Wild-like vocals. Based on how much I loved that album I figured I would never hear from the band again (because my luck just seems to run that way.) Sabaton has managed to keep it together (until recently, anyway) and have been fairly prolific releasing five albums in the last six years (six in six if you count last year’s live album.) The vocals are a little smoother now, but the songs are still heavy, anthemic slabs of catchy power metal.
“Carolus Rex” is a concept album telling the story of Sweden’s King Charles XII and the Northern War of 1700-1721. I am a fan of history, but I am not familiar with this particular story. I enjoy when bands take historical events and make songs or albums around them. They may not always do total justice to the facts, but they at least spark enough interest that the listener can then take the initiative to learn more on their own. Do not ever let anyone tell you metal heads are an uneducated lot; I have learned a great deal of history from picking things up in songs and reading about them on my own.
Last year I turned my nose up at Sabaton’s “World War Live: Battle of the Baltic Sea” because I said the sound quality did not do the band justice. I said I would much rather listen to their impressive body of studio album work. I still feel justified in that review, because now I am listening to “Carolus Rex” and am blown away by the epic, power metal sound. “The Carolean’s Prayer” is like a metal song combined with Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana” (only the most epic piece of music ever; a lot of people know it as the music from Conan the Barbarian.) This is an album’s worth of music to stir the hearts and minds of metal fans everywhere. These guys are like the Swedish Blind Guardian.
It remains to be seen whether the almost all-new Sabaton lineup will continue to produce the same caliber of metal in the future, but I certainly hope they will. For the moment, we at least have this latest slab to keep us sated. Check out the lyric video for the title track “Carolus Rex.”