Sabaton – “Heroes” (Nuclear Blast Records)
After many a battle, last year saw the Sabaton regiment depleted to just founders vocalist Joakim Brodén and bassist Pär Sundström – but no matter, heroes they are, heros they remain and heros they have returned with yet another amazing album! For anyone yet to hear these majestic Swedes, Sabaton take the spirit of traditional heavy metal and mix it with the bombastic elements of classical music and the stirring passion of movie soundtracks. Traditionally themed on historical events and famed battles in military history, this album, which is sung entirely in English this time round, is no less heart pounding in its awe inspiring material. Even if not every song is a full on assault like ‘Inmate 4859’, which is based on Polish WWII hero Witold Pilecki who went undercover into Auschwitz, it no less lacks the deep reverence as Brodén proudly tells the grim tale through his own gravelly voice and the slower, almost operatic style of Pilecki’s capture after the Warsaw uprising and finally execution by Polish communists – its sure to be hit of course in Poland, where Sabaton enjoy a huge fanatical following! Elsewhere, on ‘The Ballad Of Bull’, the band go virtually classical with choirs, piano and a strong classic rock element to get that emotional pulse racing whilst on ‘To Hell And Back’ a strong pipe melody gives an uplifting folk feel over a classic military marching beat. But if it’s swashbuckling Sabaton that you crave, then look further than ‘Smoking Snakes’, a veritable broadsword that could fell a 1,000 warriors with its power melodies, glorious choral harmonies, knight jousting solos – and of course, ultra singalong potential! No doubt in my mind Brodén and Sundström have returned in fine form with a new stronger line up, memorable songs and most of all, their classic soul grabbing sound – I can’t wait to see these guys live this summer!