Album Reviews, Artists / Bands, Culture, Metal / Hard Rock — January 13, 2013 at 10:50 am

Review: Sabaton – Carolus Rex


  Artist Name: Sabaton
Title Name: Carolus Rex
Label: Nuclear Blast
Reviewed by: Fabio Marraccini


Swedish power metal combo Sabaton are in fact a crossover between musicians and history teachers. They dedicate all their lyrics and album themes to historical battles and stories about warriors that fought in them – I just wish I had teachers like this in high school!

On their seventh album, Carolus Rex, homage is paid to Carl of Sweden (the album name being the Latin version of the term), King of the Swedish Empire around 300 years ago, and leader of the Swedish Army during the Great Northern War. Not surprisingly, some versions of the album are sung entirely in Swedish. The iTunes version however has all songs in English and then all of them again in Swedish – a treat for avid fans!

Following the same line of gems such as The Art of War and Coat of Arms, the band delivers an exciting and epic blend of power and traditional heavy metal, full of anthems. “The Lion from the North” opens the English version in great style, and the majority of the songs follow the same style: faster tempos, beautiful solos and empowering vocals sometimes backed by a choir of voices that will take you back to those times where wars were fought by riding horses, wearing armours while hitting your enemies with swords and spears.

But these faster, horse stampede driven tunes are intertwined with two magnificent slower odes: “A Lifetime of War” and “The Carolean’s Prayer” that indirectly and gently nod to the biggest metal warriors of all time: Manowar.

While some might say that exploring ancient battle and war themes might sound over the top and overrated, this band does that in a magnificent and refreshing way. Their approach is clever: albums dedicated to some of the biggest battles or most famous war themes (The Art of War for example is dedicated to the famous book by Chinese general Sun Tzu), structured to follow the history or the concept being told, and enveloped by exciting melodies and powerful riffs.

After this album, the band almost came to an end, but has now been reformulated – the new line-up now touring massively to support this opus.