01. Night Witches
02. No Bullets Fly
03. Smoking Snakes
04. Inmate 4859
05. To Hell And Back
06. The Ballad Of Bull
07. Resist And Bite
08. Soldier Of 3 Armies
09. Far From The Fame
10. Hearts Of Iron
Sabaton are possibly one of the biggest power metal bands in the world right now; the Swedish panzer battalion have their own metal festival, for Dio’s sake! They have headlined some very successful tours, and as evidenced in the recent live report on them, are easily capable of upstaging the actual headlining acts.
They have released seven albums to date now, and all are full of high energy, melodic, maddeningly-catchy, historically-themed power metal. Heroes is their seventh full length album, and their first recorded with the new lineup that came into place in 2012 (just after Carolus Rex was recorded, which left just Joakim Brodén and bassist Pär Sundstrom left in the band).
So how does the new lineup sound? Quite honestly, never better. Musically, Sabaton are absolutely and utterly at the top of their game here. The guitar work; the drumming; the keyboards; and the arrangements are all astonishingly good. Heroes almost feels like a more vocally-driven album than past efforts, yet they have managed to completely up the ante musically as well. The intensity delivered right from excellent opener “Night Witches” is sustained throughout, and every chorus is memorable. The guitar leadwork is the best ever of any Sabaton album, with no disrespect meant to the former members.
In an interview leading up to release, frontman and chief songwriter Joakim Brodén stated that at one point he threw half of what he had away because he felt it was not good enough. Well Joakim, if this is what came after that, you must be seriously satisfied. The song-writing on Heroes is beyond good, ranging from triumphant, to mournful, to dark and heavy. Songs like “To Hell and Back” and “Smoking Snakes” give us a more upbeat mood, whereas “Far From the Fame” is a distinctly more emotional affair. Then there’s “Inmate 4859” which is really dark and heavy.
The biggest surprise on the album, however, has to be “The Ballad of Bull”. Once one gets over the initial shock of the fact that Sabaton have written a piano ballad, it actually works fairly well, and grows on you, with its feel-good story about a man who risked his life under fire to save twelve other soldiers.
In fact the album’s lyrics are all based on stories of individual heroes of various wars. As previously mentioned, Leslie “Bull” Allen gets one song, and others include the all-female Soviet 558th Night Bomber Regiment (“Night Witches”), Karel Janoušek, creator of the Czechoslovakian Air Force (“Far From the Fame”), and Audie Murphy, one of the most decorated men in US military history (“To Hell and Back”). Their stories are all told in simple yet appealing ways. The fact that Sabaton are bringing these stories to the world when no one else will is wonderful.
The album was produced, mixed, and engineered by Peter Tägtgren, who has more than enough album credits to his name to know that he’ll do an excellent job. Heroes really benefits from his touch; each song is full of life and power, and everything shimmers with a golden spark. The guitar lead tone and the drums are especially well done too.
Sabaton are probably the most popular power metal band in the world right now, and they are clearly feeling the love from their fans. Not only is Heroes an immensely excellent album, but it managed to sell 41,000 copies worldwide, which is pretty incredible for a metal band.
Heroes is fucking amazing, with stupendous songwriting and supreme musicianship. It is infused with a passion from the band that permeates every note, every passage, and every lyric. The bonus tracks, a re-recording of an older song “7734” and a tribute to Manowar “Man of War” are nothing great, but since they are not really part of the album proper, it is easy to pay them no mind and simply remember the name Sabaton, who have created an album for the ages.
Best songs: “To Hell and Back” “Far From the Fame” “No Bullets Fly”