The lines above are from a song about the horrible Battle (slaughter) of Passchendaele during World War 1 in particular and the mindless trench-based killing the First Great War was about in general. War is a terrible thing, and nothing better than Heavy Metal to spread awareness about the destruction of war and to learn about them at the same time. And here is a heavy metal band who have brought forth headbanging awesomeness in the form of uplifting, epic anthems, loud, full and rich music about historical, legendary and bloody battles, of kings and commanders of yore, of soldiers, victims and civilians, of good and evil. And when they string their Guitars, charge up their keyboards and hit their drums with a vengeance to produce kickass Heavy Metal awesomeness, I tell you, this is what you must listen to! Get ready to bang your heads! \m/
Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you, from Falun Sweden, SABATON!!
Sabaton is a Swedish Power Metal band formed in 1999 in Falun, Sweden and is today one of the biggest names in the power metal scene, and probably the biggest name when it comes to songs about war and its destruction, and is among the new age bands leading to a revival of Heavy Metal when today people do not listen to real music anymore. Some facts about Sabaton:
Current Band Members – Joakim Broden (Vocals), Pär Sundström (Bass), Chris Rörland (Guitar), Thobbe Englund (Guitar), Robban Bäck (Drums)
Music Genre – Heavy Metal > Power Metal > Symphonic Power Metal
Song Themes– War, Anti-War, Descriptions of Battles, World War 1 & 2, Swedish History, King Charles 12 of Sweden
Sabaton’s songs mainly draw inspiration from historic battles that have taken place throughout history, especially of those in World War 1 and World War 2. Their songs reflect the agony and despair that war has brought about and hopelessness faced by victims of war, especially the faceless soldier. Their songs are also tell tales about leaders, kings and commanders both good and evil, about the “Art of War”, about general history and the brutality and destruction war brings. There are few bands which sing about history to this extent that it is almost good for replacing History textbooks! Their songs are inspired from World War 1, World War 2, Europe’s Thirty Years’ War, Battles of the Swedish Empire especially those during the time of King Charles XII and some contemporary conflicts like the Yugoslav Wars, the Falklands Conflicts and the Iraq Wars. There are two albums – Metalizer and Fist of Fight which do not feature war themes but general Heavy Metal stuff. They have a cult following in Poland because of their Polish nationalist songs, they feature many anti-Nazi songs and compositions reflecting Swedish and Scandinavian Pride.
Sabaton’s musical style is Power Metal – clean vocals, chorus, double kicking drums, strong Bass lines, epic guitar riffs and solos and predominantly featuring keyboards full of tempo. Their songs are “Anthmeic”, “Emotional”, loud, melodic and symphonic. Joakim Broden’s heavy, deep and abrasive voice makes Sabaton songs instantly recognizable. Their songs are quite heavy too, with three or more layers, though their songs are quite fast on their own accord, they are slower compared to other metal genres, though by no means less “heavier”. I like Sabaton because of precisely this. Their strong bass lines, guitars and keyboards produce music that is heavy, flowing, continuous, rhythmic, meaningful, rich, clear and layered. Like good Coffee! And of course, their fascinating themes appeal particularly to me maybe because I am a history buff. They are also different from other Power Metal bands by the theme of their songs.
One of the “cleaner” elements of the style, Power Metal is a sub-genre of Heavy Metal. Power Metal incorporates Keyboards along with the Base Bass lines and guitars of traditional Heavy Metal and feature “clean vocals” by powerfully voiced singers, usually male. Power Metal songs are multi-layered, anthemic and make use of chorus, giving them an “uplifting”, positive, rich and powerful feel, as opposed to the screams, grunts and general gloom and doom of death and black metal. The Power Metal scene is prominent in Scandinavia, Finland, Germany, Netherlands, Italy etc, and established greats are Blind Guardian, Kamelot, Sonata Arctica, Helloween, Rhapsody (of Fire), Hammerfall, Dragonforce, Iced Earth etc. The overwhelming theme used by Power Metal bands for their songs is Fantasy. The Sword and Sorcerer type. Recurring stuff are Fantasy Worlds, Ballads to imaginary Mythic Warriors of unknown realms, Lord of the Rings and other Tolkien stuff, King Arthur, Dragons, Parallel universes, MMORPGs like Final Fantasy and games like Skyrim. Sabaton stands out with their War/History themed songs.
Some of Sabaton’s “Battle” Songs
Most songs from the albums of Primo Victoria, Attero Dominatus, The Art of War and Coat of Arms are description of historic battles. And some of their best “war songs” are:
Primo Victoria is about “Operation Overlord” or the Battle of Normandy, when Allied Forces stormed the coast of Normandy of France on June 6 1944 which is now known as D-Day, to liberate France from Nazi Germany occupation. A very heavy, loud and powerful song, more of traditional Heavy Metal. Lyrics here
Wolfpack gives us a detailed description about the attack on the Convoy of Allied ships Convoy ONS-90 by the German U-Boot “Wolfpack” Hecht during the Battle of the Atlantic, World War 2. One of my personal favorites, it is flowing, powerful and engaging, very fast and the chorus rock!
Stalingrad is about the Battle of Stalingrad, one of the bloodiest battles in World history and the one battle that changed the fate of World War 2. The German Wehrmacht was defeted by the Russian Red Army marking the beginning of the end of the Third Reich. A more “heavier” song with predominant Bass riffs, harsh vocals and badass lyrics: “Every man dies alone and when your Time comes you will know that it’s time“… Full Lyrics
Attero Dominatus describes the march into the Battle of Berlin, the last major battle of World War 2 which sealed he German fate and ended the War in Europe. Lyrics Here
40:1 is a tribute to the heroic stand of 720 Polish soldiers who held out against a 40000 strong Nazi German force for three days in the Battle of Wizna 1939 during the starting stages of World War 2, parallels being drawn to the Siege of Thermopylae and the 300 Spartans. Full of energy and power, the song is almost a national anthem in Poland and one of their most awesome live performances.
Cliffs of Gallipoli pays tribute to the Gallipoli campaign of World War 1. The British and French forces were miserably defeated by the Ottoman Empire while trying to capture Istanbul with a loss of 500,000 lives on both sides. The battle would later lead to the final fall of the Ottoman Empire and the establishment of the nation of Turkey. Lots of keyboards and guitars.
Panzerkampf descibes the Battle of Kursk, the last offensive the German Army was able to mount on the Eastern front (Russia). It also was “Into the motherland the German army march! Comrades stand side by side to stop the Nazi charge“. Heavy Guitars and powerful vocals.
Non-Battle Description Songs
Rise of Evil showcases the Hitler’s and the Nazi Party’s rise to power in Germany. With slow vocals, and heavy Bass lines and guitars and synchro drums, the song generates a dark and gloomy atmosphere. It has a must-watch video to boot.
The Final Solution is about the Holocaust. It portrays the helplessness and pure horror that the victims of the Nazi extermination pogroms faced during the Holocaust and World War 2. The song is somber though powerful and has an underlying feeling of sadness and some of Sabaton’s most touching lyrics. The Final Solution reminds us of Humanity’s darkest hours, the horror how hopes, dreams and love of 6 million people were mercilessly burned down to ashes and dust without remorse. (Warning: Video below has graphic footage, might seem disturbing to some)
When freedom burns, The final solution… Dreams fade away and all hope turns to dust.
When millions burn, The curtain has fallen… Lost to the world as they perish in flames.
Ghost Division is totally head-bangable heavy metal awesomeness, very loud and very fast. It is also their opening song for most concerts. It is about the
Swedish Pagans – One of my personal favorites again, Sabaton pays tribute to their Swedish Pagan ancestors “Forged in Valhalla by the Hammer of Thor“, those fierce warriors before the time of Christianity. A real anthem with awesome chorus and heavy drum beats, this is one of their most uplifting songs.
Uprising – Another song that pays tribute to the Polish Resistance against the Germans during World War 2. The song evokes feelings of Polish pride and the second Sabaton tribute to Poland. The “Warsaw, City at War” chorus is nothing short of Epic. The video features Nazi atrocities towards the Poles.
Carolus Rex and the History of Sweden
Their latest album “Carolus Rex” tells us stories about Sweden from Gustavus II Adolfus to the time of King Charles XII of the Swedish Empire or Carolus Rex, whose death resulted in the downfall of the Swedish Empire, with a lot of Scandinavian and Swedish Pride thrown into it. My favorite album.
The Lion from the North sings about Gustavus II Adolfus, the founder of the Swedish Empire.
A Lifetime of War is an epic and moving anti-war ballad, the Swedish version probably on of the greatest songs ever. It describes the misery and agony caused by the Thirty Year’s War, one of the most destructive wars in history involving most of Europe. The song is from the perspective of a poor soldier sent out to die, his despair at that he would never see his home and beloved again… For War it can Destroy a man, I give my life for my Homeland But who miss me? So see me as a husband, a friend, Father and son, who never comes home But who will mourn me?
The Carolean’s Prayer is dedicated to the Caroleans, the Swedish soldiers of Charles XI and XII. Again an epic anthem with mixed English and Swedish lyrics, with lots of chorus, church-like medieval chants and aggressive Bass lines.
Carolus Rex is an anthem about the Crowning of Charles XII as the King of the Swedish Empire, the King talking about his divine right to rule and all his glory. This song is predominantly a “drum song”, totally Epic with heavy tempo drum beats (dum-dum-dah!) overlaid by choruses and Bass riffs, and powerful vocals. One can almost see the King being crowned in all his Glory!
Killing Grounds and Poltova are both about battles, the first one about the Siege of Fraustadt and the second, the Battle of Poltova. Both are typical fast power metal songs with keyboards, guitars and choruses.
Long Live the King – The King is dead. About the death of Charles XII at the siege Friedrikshausen and his final journey to Sweden. Anthemic and slow except for the chorus, the song is almost a ballad. The chorus is one of Sabaton’s best singalong lines. “Broken dreams so grand, sing of his final stand, long live Carolus, Brought by soldiers hand, back to the fatherland, long live Carolus Rex!”
Ruina Imperii is a Swedish song about the Carolean death march and the final fall of the Swedish Empire in the wake of Charles XII’s death.
Heavy metal bands sing about hundreds of diverse subjects but many lean towards the darker aspects. And these are existence, angst, society, war, youth, drugs, horror, death, rot, apocalypse, religion (Christianity), occult, voodoo, God, devil, the universe, afterlife, fantasy worlds, history, Lord of the Rings and so on, take any metal band and they will have songs on these stereotypical stuff. Sabaton for one is different with them singing only about war, expect for their one album, Metalizer.
War. Horrible, mindless slaughter of real, able-bodied human beings carried out on order of mindless commanders, kings and such people in power to meet their narrow ends and to satisfy their ego. In the resulting chest-thumping melee the cries, despair, helplessness and the inevitable fate of the soldiers and victims is always destined to be drowned out. Though he might be unknown and faceless to the World, the soldier sent out to die is also a real human being, a father, a son, a husband a friend or brother with a real life, hopes and dreams, but is always forgotten. If someone is trying to remind us how bad the days of war are, they need to be lauded,no matter the medium. Sabaton is an anti-war band and like most Heavy Metal bands are, are wrongly depicted as people who glorify death, war, destruction etc. And of course, religion. Well, anti-establishment people are always ridiculed by the establishment, so it really does not matter. As long as the music is good, who cares? This is real music! Not some auto-tuned vocal meowing of some pre-teen commercial YouTube sensation.