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Not a lot of people enjoy history, and the main reason for that is that all those facts and dates are coerced onto kids in school. In many cases those history lessons can be on the boring side and the kids usually brush history aside as just another stupid thing that they don't need to care about. However, military history can get interesting, especially when metal bands write songs about particular battles. This is where Sabaton comes in. It's not all that common for people to enjoy history, but Joakim Broden and co. sure did, to the point where they wanted to make it fun for everyone, especially headbangers like us. When they came out with "Primo Victoria", they proved that history can be just as fun as metal itself.
Some people would think of Sabaton as kind of a seminar educating people about famous battles throughout history, and judging by their music, I can totally see why. The thing about Sabaton's way of teaching history is that it actually tries to put the listener in the environment in which the song takes place. "Panzer Battalion", a song about Operation Iraqi Freedom, for example features a riff that is made up from harmonic minor scales. Harmonic minor scales are usually used by thrash and death metal bands to give their songs a dark and sinister tone, or in the case of Sabaton, give their song a Middle-Eastern vibe. "Counterstrike" and "Reign of Terror" also have this, for they are about the Six Day War in Israel and the Persian Gulf war respectively. When Sabaton teaches the listener history, they don't give them a boring old lecture like a Ben Stein in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off"-type teacher. Their songs feature riffs that set the stage for the battle, essentially putting the listener on the battlefield in these conflicts.
Another noteworthy song is "Wolfpack". Since it covers German U-boats during World War II, it's got kind of a slow to midpaced churning time signature and kind of an ominous-sounding riff. This gives the song the somewhat intense feel of actually being on a U-boat during a mission, or the feel of being on a ship that's a potential target for said U-boat. To add to the effect, the main riff seems to imitate submarine sonar, which I thought was pretty clever. Then again, if it wasn't for the sound effects of actual sonar in the intro, the main riff would have been more effective. There is also the fact that at the end of the song's intro, there's the sound effect of a PA system that says "all hands take your battle stations". Since this is about German U-boats, I feel that that order given, whatever it was, should've been in German, just to make the song more authentic. Oh well, "Wolfpack" is still a good song, even though it's not really fast, cos it's got that feel of a ship's crew that is in danger of being attacked by a German submarine. Sometimes it's the slower songs that give more tension, thus making today's lesson more awesome.
"Purple Heart" is a song that has a somber tone, as well as lyrics relating to soldiers fallen in combat and the honor they get. It would have closed the album up perfectly, if it wasn't for "Metal Machine" at the end. That's the only problem I have with this album, it's that they always close their albums with songs related to metal. They're not really that great of songs actually, and knowing how tongue-in-cheek they are, it's hardly a surprise. The lyrics are basically name-dropping well-known metal bands and the songs they have written. Here's my opinion on this; I feel that if Sabaton wanted people to take them more seriously, they should've ended the album on "Purple Heart". It's a serious song for a more serious subject matter, and closing the album with a song that contains name-dropping of more well-known bands doesn't make the message of the music as a whole effective. I'm pretty sure Sabaton did this whole "Metal Machine" song as a joke, since Joakim and the boys seem to have a sense of humor.
I guess I can't let one song ruin a whole album, since the majority of it is actually excellent. I have a feeling that if teachers were to use Sabaton's music, it would make those lectures a lot more interesting. I suppose they'd make great study tools, as well, since the facts and dates are all in the lyrics. Then we wouldn't have so many kids feeling contempt towards learning about the past, cos when a metal band sings about it instead of having a ruler-wielding lady smack them in the head, the kids would be more likely to embrace it.
I have a love-hate relationship with Sabaton.
On the one hand, I do have a solid (and healthy, and really-honest-to-God-not-homosexual-in-the-slightest) appreciation for over-the-top, macho, cheesy European power metal, and Sabaton absolutely qualifies with high honours. On the other hand, though modern warfare has been a metal staple arguably since Black Sabbath’s ‘War Pigs’, I find that their lyrics are a real grab-bag, ranging from the awesome (‘Into the Fire’) to the witty meta (‘Metal Machine’) to the offensively propagandistic (‘Counterstrike’) to the intelligence-insulting ‘let’s take an AAR from a random WWII battle and have Joakim roar it line-for-line into the microphone pretending it’s a song’ route (‘Wolfpack’). I can’t in all conscience claim Sabaton for one of my faves. But then again, I went to see them at the Trocadero in Philly’s Chinatown the first time they came over to the States, and damn do they put on a boot-to-the-arse of a live show: machine guns, armour and all. If there’s one thing Sabaton know how to do well, it’s how to build a connexion with their audiences, and that gives them points in my book. Joakim Brodén successfully walks a fine line between high-energy rockstar and a nice-guy attitude I associate with a lot of folk musicians, joking about onstage, bantering conversationally with the audience between songs, from all I could tell genuinely having a good time. It was practically enough to make me forgive them for the fact that they were apparently appealing to all the fourteen-to-eighteen-year-old greenies in the audience who in all likelihood didn’t have a clue who Accept (for whom Sabaton were opening that night) were.
So yeah. It’s that kind of relationship, just to give you an idea of where this review is going. Now to forge bravely on into Primo Victoria.
First off, it’s pretty much standard-issue mid-oughties European flower metal. Keyboard-saturated, effects-laden, lots of hooks and leads expertly if somewhat mechanically stacked atop a basic march (or speed-metal) template, choral backing (particularly on ‘Wolfpack’)… to the point where Brodén’s vocals practically become the saving grace of the album. It’s accessible to the point of poppy, and these songs are immaculate earworms – you can’t help but like them, but you can’t really put your finger on why. It sure as hell isn’t the subject matter: if you honestly think it’s noteworthy for a metal band to sing about the ‘realistic aspects of war’, I humbly submit to you that you may be a fucking newbie (that’s the polite term) who needs to broaden his horizons by putting on some Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Saxon, Motörhead, Metallica, Sodom, Kreator, Rage or Angel Dust. What may set Sabaton apart from any or all of the above bands is that modern warfare is practically all they sing about, but let’s be clear up front that singing about war does not make Sabaton original or unique in any way, shape or form. They certainly don’t pretend they are (listen to ‘Metal Machine’), but it is rather baffling to me why so many of their fans do.
So, the good of this album: ‘Into the Fire’ is a melodically-predictable, but punchy, technically demanding speed-metal blazer, and perhaps the high point of the album. Its counterpoint, the discordant, mid-tempo stomper with symphonic elements ‘Stalingrad’, is also a high point, if for exactly the opposite reason: here Sabaton is reaching deeper past the obvious melodic hook and producing a darkly haunting melody which actually does evoke the horrors of a freezing, starving, undersupplied, disorganised army under constant threat of instant annihilation under the Nazi war machine. Also worth an honourable mention are the title track as a prime (pardon the pun) example of the Sabaton style at its best, and the ridiculously-catchy and surprisingly witty ‘Metal Machine’, a masterful tribute to the metal greats of classic heavy metal and hard rock.
And then there’s the bad. See, the problem with the ‘Sabaton style’ is not that it is technically insufficient. I don’t even have that much of a problem with it being pop-metal. It’s precisely that there’s this huge disconnect between what they are claiming to do, and the style they are doing it in. ‘Wolfpack’ should be a song which is emotionally evocative if one listens to the instrumentation and the melody, but if one listens to the lyrics it comes off sounding… well, like they ripped off an entire after-action report and set it to a basic march rhythm. ‘Counterstrike’ should be a song about a few brave soldiers standing up against superior foes and insurmountable odds – instead it’s about a pre-emptive war waged by a technically superior armed against three other largely inferior and unprepared ones. The lyrics of ‘Purple Heart’ might be moving if they weren’t so insipidly saccharine, and ‘Panzer Battalion’ sounds like it was specifically written to appeal to the fifteen-year-old anorak playing Call of Duty® 47: Modern Sequel Spin-Off Remake 12 in his parents’ basement.
Other than that, I have no complaints. This is clearly a very talented band, and an otherwise solid album. Perhaps I should count my blessings that Sabaton didn’t take the route of too many other Europower bands and start complaining about unrequited love or about life sucking or about religion sucking or about vampires and werewolves…
14 / 20
One of the greater joys in life is seeing one of your favourite bands live. I’ve got a couple of bands I really like, and I’ve spent more time than was good for me in busy periods studying the lyrics instead of my books. But that was worth it. I’ve seen Sabaton live now seven times and every time they enter the stage, I nearly wet myself in pure ecstasy. Over and and over again. I am at a Sabaton performance on a festival. I am having the time of my life, and suddenly it happens. I see it. A wiener. With a piercing. On stage. And I’m not the only one who sees the aforementioned piece of manmeat, oh no, it is in close-up on all the screens of the festival stage, in front of thousands of people. If I ever took out my wiener at any occasion outside of the privacy of my bedroom, I’d be branded for the rest of my life as a pervert and would be sent straight to the psychiatrist.
But then again, I’m not a part of Sabaton. The crowd, mostly male and/or drunk, goes wild at the sight of the manhood, and screams even harder. Sabaton have grown to the point they can do nearly everything on stage and get even more respect for it from their fans. How has it come to this?
Sabaton makes power/heavy metal, but a heavier type. No flowery hymns, drowning in lyrics about the bravery of knights or the feeling since she left me. No high pitched vocals that make you at times doubt the presence of balls. Sabaton feels like… an army on the march or a battalion of tanks going on, relentless of what’s lying ahead of them. Nothing too technical about their music, but straightforward metal with a voice that’s harsh but understandable. The lyrics of the band deal with modern warfare, and that’s not just WWII. On Primo Victoria they take the listener back to D-Day, the Gulf Wars and the war in Vietnam. And as different these wars were, so diverse are the songs on Primo Victoria.
I guess the simplicity of their music is one of the main reasons the band is so popular: it is accessible to anyone who can stand to the sound of distorted guitars. The melodies are not too technical and pretty straightforward, like an army on the march. Listen for example to the opener of the album, Primo Victoria. The rhythm of the music is rather repetitive in the verses, and more or less just continues in the chorus. That’s what makes the music very catchy. Towards the end of the song we get a solo, the riffs begin to sound like an army on the march but without losing that rhythm. The song is diverse and feels dynamic but is very continuous. This one of the songs they play at every concert.
The keyboards stay on the background for most of the time, but provide a base for the rest of the instruments. Only in an intro, or in the more emotional Purple Heart the keys dominate the sound. That presence of keys, without drawing all attention to them, is one of the stronger points of Sabaton. Keys can definitely provide that little extra that metal sometimes need, but sometimes tend to drown the other instruments or be dominant a great part of the time. Bands like Nightwish and Rhapsody of Fire have more dominant keys, shaping the sound of the band, but that would be unfit for this band.
Joakim’s vocals, and by extension his charisma as lead singer and entertainer, are also an important factor in Sabaton’s success. It makes power metal more interesting for people normally not interested in the genre. His voice is also fit to handle the subject of war. It’s powerful and harsh, but still understandable. That adds to the importance of the lyrics, and even more to the themes of those lyrics.
After Primo Victoria, Sabaton released three more albums that don’t sound too different from this one. The band has chosen a different and fresh type of power metal, simple and straightforward. They’ve got a solid back catalogue to choose from during concerts and with their energetic performances and unending enthusiasm they have reached the point where Bróden can show his Metal Machine on stage.
Sabaton is a tough creature to judge, in no small part due to their association with earlier revivalist power metal of the Swedish persuasion, while simultaneously being seen as ushering a slower, more straight up heavy metal approach to this style that is far more prominent today. This is further compounded by the fact that they spent 5 or 6 years being tossed around in the underground scene when they were more comparable to an 80s Malmsteen meets early Hammerfall approach. Speaking for myself, they tend to inspire a lukewarm reaction whenever I listen to them, as they exemplify an entertaining yet tried by true character that is widespread among post-2003 Euro power acts.
For most who are somewhat in the know about this album, “Primo Victoria” is the de facto debut of what is now known as the manlier variant on keyboard happy power metal that is attributed to Sabaton. In a sense, this is a proper sentiment as it showcases the band in their current state, mixing a combination of mid-tempo melodic material with simple, pounding riffs reminiscent of Dream Evil and Firewind. But this also retains that uniquely Swedish approach to atmosphere that comes off a bit mellower and denser than other European bands, yet still not quite as dark and cold as the Finnish form. It is a fitting blend of pomp and tragedy for a group of songs depicting war from an objective historical standpoint, highlighting the glorious and horrific aspects from a fairly specific perspective.
In spite of the really predictable formula at work here, this album really does well in the quality department and emphasizes the band’s strengths. There’s no ballads, no fancy technical gimmicks, no fleeting instrumentals to segue between songs or to start things off, just a straight shot of catchy and thunderous anthems. This simplified format works particularly well for vocalist Joakin Broden, whose gravely, gruffly Blaze Bayley meets Paul Di’Anno singing style tends to sound grating when overly exposed. The downside is that the songs sort of run together a bit in feel, though this is compensated for somewhat with a few nods to vernacular musical influences from the areas depicted in the lyrics, be it a Mid-Eastern theme in “Reign Of Terror” or a Far-Eastern/Japanese intro on “Panzer Battalion”.
The ultimate triumph and downfall of this album is that, from start to finish, it is a pure exercise in arena fanfare. After the first listen, the infectiously catchy and triumphant ode to the fallen of D-Day in the title song, the slow trudging depiction of WWII submarine warfare in “Wolfpack” and the somber, somewhat “Taps” influenced dedication to fallen soldiers in “Purple Heart” become all but impossible to forget. They all listen dangerously close to 80s Sabbath, injected with massive sounding production that keeps it in the current sound paradigm enough to avoid the revivalist label that can rightly be attributed to “Fist for Fight/Metalizer”. But even the fast paced “Into The Fire”, which does reach back a little into the band’s turn of the millennium sound, can’t help but be so catchy and straightforward that it sounds like a different band than the one heard prior by the few who were aware of them at that time.
This would be a worthy pickup of any fan of both power and traditional metal, and will probably carry a little crossover value to those looking for a heavier, grittier sound than the typical Swedish band. There isn’t much that hasn’t been heard here before, though few bands have presented this style in this particular manner. It’s somewhat akin to Chinese food, it tastes great and will fill you up, but it may not stick with you as long as other bands with a more varied approach, and it can get worn out fairly quickly after repeated listens.
Originally submitted to (www.metal-observer.com) on November 1, 2010.
Hello there. My name is Sam Elliott, also known as "That old man who kind of looks like Frank Zappa" or "Wicked Mustache". Today, I'd like to share a story with y'all. It takes place during my travels of Chicagoan suburbs, searching for the fabled land of Aurora, the supposed hometown of public television legends Wayne Campbell and Garth Algar. While I never did happen upon them two young men, I did meet a rather peculiar adolescent in the neighboring Oswego. He said he had a normal name, but was more widely known as "BastardHead". He looked like this Fenriz character I met during my Norwegian travels and used lots of cuss words. After he spent several hours complimenting my mustache and praising my voice as "the manliest voice among all men", he accepted my request that I study him for a few days. This particular day, he was attending a group therapy session. Let's observe what took place in that session....
"....and even though I am chief of police, I still raped my dog. Thanks for listening."
*applause from the group*
"Alright people, we have a very special addition to our weekly get-togethers here at 'Hypocrites Anonymous'. Mr.... Head, could you please stand up and explain why you are here with us today?"
"Hello everybody, my name is BastardHead, and I am a hypocrite."
*small chorus of meek "Hi BastardHead"*
"As I'm sure none of you know, I am a critic and a reviewer on a very popular heavy metal website. I have been called out numerous times on dodgy opinions and questionable criticisms. Every time a band I dislike is fundamentally similar to a band I praise, I find myself using blanket statements like "they lack charm" to cover up my lack of substantial evidence as to why the piece in question guzzles dolphin jizz. A great example, and the reason I signed myself up for this class, is Sabaton's Primo Victoria.
One of the first points of contention is the incredibly inoffensive pop mentality of the whole ordeal. The opening title track starts with an a capella performance of the chorus. While this isn't something one hears all the time, and while it might get the crowd riled up during a live performance, it ranks as probably the worst and most poorly executed idea ever conceived on record. Ever since the advent of Dragonforce, mainstream radio has finally caught on to power metal's consonant nature and usual inoffensiveness, and it seems like some bands are embracing that, Sabaton being one. I get the feeling that Wolfpack or Purple Heart wouldn't be met with much resistance on an alternative rock radio station. Whether or not this is a bad thing is totally in the eye of the beholder, but the second something makes it on the radio, I find it to lose almost any balls it may have previously had. What could potentially be a steel toe stomping groove never fails to end up into a fluffy prance on Primo Victoria. And here is why I'm a hypocrite, I absolutely love Timeless Miracle. Into the Enchanted Chamber is one of the most innocent and poppish power metal albums I've ever laid ears on, but something about them makes it cunt garglingly awesome. I can't explain things like that, but songs like The Red Rose strike a cord within me that Sabaton can only dream to strike. I complain about the overt bounciness in many of the melodies on this album, but my love affair with a certain Swedish flower metal band makes that criticism completely worthless when coming from me.
Another thing I want to complain about is the vocalist. His range spans maybe a full octave, and attempts nary a single falsetto wail throughout. Do you need a falsetto to rock? Of course not, but his vocal delivery bores me shitless and little spices like that would be most welcome. Unfortunately, Mr. Badass Flat Top seems perfectly content with his mediocrity. Hold on a second, I can't claim this as a reason for suckage either consider I love Grave Digger! Bordenthal has a hilarious mid range gruff that he tends to stick with, as does BFT, so what ground do I have to stand on? I feel like Grave Digger can manage to suck me in to their stories and music despite the mediocre/laughable vocals, whereas Sabaton does little more bore me. It's obvious the man is putting passion behind his vocals as well, and yet it still comes off as either half assed or just bad. But wait! I recently claimed that Wolf was awesome despite several shortcomings based nearly solely on the passion and conviction they put into their music. Fuck, hypocrisy strikes again.
Probably the most superficially egregious violation of my mythical "How Not To Be A Complete Douchenozzle" codebook, is their image. Sabaton prides themselves on themes of war, which is all well and good. But for fuck's sake, do they really need to take themselves so hilariously seriously? They remind me of LARPers, really. Honestly guys, we're all laughing at you, you're not cool. But looking like tools seems to be commonplace in metal, so why bash them for that? Well, they take all of these promotional photos in full combat fatigues carrying assault rifles and even going as far as to wear Kevlar and camouflage on stage. Seriously, if that isn't taking the joke too far, then World War II was a tie. But hold up once again, don't I like Amon Amarth? Fucksticks, I do like them. They seem to actually think they are vikings and reflect as such in foolish videoclips and look and act like complete tits live. Shit, Amon Amarth even gets actors to come out and reenact Viking battles onstage. Why the hell do I let bullshit like that slide while I sit here and jab at Sabaton for wearing silly costumes? I guess it's because I somehow find Amon Amarth's music enjoyable and Sabaton's boring, despite the poppiness in both of their (well... later era AA, but it's still there). I guess I just have to come to terms with the fact that I'm a fucking hypocrite.
Now that I'm finished bitching about the personnel, I think I'd analyze the music further. The music itself tends to remain midpaced for most of the album with a couple bursts of speed (Panzer Battalion, Counterstrike, Into the Fire). The speedy numbers are easily the best parts of the record despite the fact that the midpaced groovers are infinitely catchier. This causes uncomfortable shifts in the pace of the album. The fact of the matter is that it's hilariously awful at times, and yet testicle meltingly awesome other times. Usually, awkward shifts between the segments are what cause my frustration, but it almost seems like the band allots entire songs for this kind of thing. Take the difference between the title track and Panzer Battalion. Primo Victoria is dominated by a bouncy groove and happy keyboard melody, whereas Panzer Battalion is a furious double bass monster with a soaring chorus. Small fluctuations like that are common on nearly every power metal record in existence, but half of the songs are in one style and the other half are in the other. This makes for a very disjointed feel overall. I also feel like this is my one valid criticism of the album.
The thing is, there isn't much to analyze in the music. The long songs are mid paced and catchy-yet-boring, while the short songs are high tempo rippers that are a lot of fun. And apart from pointing out that everything sounds like it could be the soundtrack to a Disney adaptation of WWII, you basically get the gist of the album after the first two songs. And honestly, if the album can't interest me throughout at least a majority of the duration, then what is the fucking point? I hear lots and lots of potential, but the fury is buried under mounds and mounds of cupcakes and artificial sweetener. Despite that, I don't feel justified in giving the album the score I feel it deserves if my argument is based solely on that. Every other piece of evidence I have counterpoises arguments I've made in the past, therefore rendering me useless. Why attack what I can't defend?
*sobs*... I need help.... *sniffle*"
*stunned silence fills the room*
And around that time, all of the hypocrites around the young man began to comfort BastardHead with gentle hugs and cuddles. Despite his hard facade, he really was a big teddy bear inside. He later told me after the session that he actually learned that his self awareness of his hypocrisy changed nothing in the long run. He still has an opinion, and music still strikes him differently than others. And he stands firm in his belief that Sabaton could be so much more than they are, and as such are very disappointing as a musical ensemble. He told me that there are things about Primo Victoria, like the, as he calls 'em "fast as fuck power metal monsters" that are exceptional and somewhat refreshing. But he still feels that the mid paced tracks either plod along in a boring and pointless manner or bounce around like prancing unicorns and rob the music of it's possible intensity and charm. They just can't pull off the pop metal like so many others can, and would most likely be much better suited as a straight up speed metal band as opposed to the "chugtastic groove rut that they got stuck in".
Let’s first mention to the credit of Sabaton it’s one of the few acts I first discovered live and there loved enough to later get the albums. Indeed I’m certainly not the only one, as everyone seems to love his band so far – exactly as if, as soon as a power metal band doesn’t sound gay, doesn’t overuse keyboards, doesn’t record cheesy ballads and doesn’t sing about dragons, everyone had to love it.
Of course, starting from a genre (power metal) and a lyrical theme (war) which both have been beaten to death, Sabaton managed to create something somewhat novel. Not that Primo Victoria does show a stunning originality, but it’s not one of those albums which could be easily summed up by a quick, laconic “it sounds like...” comment. You may recognize bits of Stratovarius, like in the keyboard solo of Counterstrike, or bits of Hammerfall which may only be due to a common Swedish background, but overall Sabaton plays above all like, well, Sabaton. Meaning, powerful and easily memorable war anthems topped by remarkable warm, medium-pitched vocals not devoid of a slight East-European accent – the often heavily rolled r’s, Sir. Perfectly clean vocals which still manage to sound martial and manly, it isn’t so common. Of course. But note the word “memorable”, it will have its importance.
Of course Sabaton plays sober, straightforward metal. The sound may be totally clear, however the album still doesn’t reek of overproduction. I mentioned a keyboard solo above, but it’s pretty much the only one in the whole work (alright, alright, there’s Stalingrad as well, I admit), as keyboards otherwise remain discrete. A small ambiance at the beginning of several songs, or a couple of soft parts – like in the solemn, pretty dark march Purple Heart – and that’s all. No outrageous orchestrations or over-the-top vocal arrangements; what doesn’t necessarily imply on the other hand a total lack of any research on backing vocals, on this topic let’s just throw in a single name: Wolfpack.
Of course add to this a good, but not annoyingly showing-off musicianship (by showing-off I mean, let’s say Dragonforce), a clever alternation of really upbeat numbers (Reign of Terror, Into the fire...) with mid-tempo anthems (the title track, or Panzer Battalion) and majestic, impressive marching tunes (Wolfpack, Purple Heart) and Primo Victoria had everything to be a landmark in metal history, or at least power metal history. But, were it indeed the case, why should it have bored me so fast?
Memorable, I said. Ironically, the problem could well reside here. Let’s eliminate albums which are impossible to listen in their entirety to begin with, and the majority of the remnants it’s a challenge to remember only one single song from, even after the fifth consecutive listen. Well, it’s certainly not the case with Primo Victoria, in fact, the band made its job so well one can almost remember every bar from every song even after the very first listen! The title track, Panzer Battalion, Into the Fire, Metal Machine, they’ll all irresistibly stick in your head, so much it will rapidly become totally unbearable. If I indeed had to create a new stupid subgenre for Sabaton, “military metal” would do it well, and not only because they sing almost exclusively about 20th Century wars. Just think about it, what are you expecting from military music? To wash your brain so much you won’t mind running to the front although you perfectly know a bullet is likely to hit you in the head in the following thirty seconds there. Sabaton’s music is brainwashing, addictive – addictive in its most negative sense. Once you begin to listen to Primo Victoria, you can’t get rid of it, never. Even if, eventually, you’d REALLY like to get rid of it.
Without mentioning once one begins to listen to it with a fully objective mind, what is far from evident for the aforementioned reason, the tricks become a bit too much evident. A really strong piece of work needs always several, often a lot of listens to be appreciated, and this is more a characteristic of radio hits to be immediately digestible. Not to say Sabaton plays radio hits, as this would be incompatible with metal, and you will hardly find more metal than Sabaton, but you must get the picture. Let’s be honest, Primo Victoria is easy. Similarities between most of the songs become obvious as soon as you’re looking for them: same harmonies, little innovation in vocals lines, simple structures (more in the following opus Attero Dominatus than in this one though), and an obvious taste for catchiness, catchiness, always this damn catchiness.
Don’t listen to this album, or you’re likely to be trapped into it as well.
Highlights: Primo Victoria, Wolfpack, Metal Machine...
I hate to give this album another 94% score, but it's really justified here...this is Sabaton's much-lauded debut, and it's very good, to clarify that much. The other four reviews here aren't fucking kidding; this is one monster of an album. The preformances here are all very solid, especially Joakim Broden's vocals, which are better here then they ever were. The guitars are mostly midpaced and the bass is heavy and crunchy, the drums following suit. The lyrical themes, as previously mentioned, center around war, and this is Sabaton's strongest point. The lyrics really put you in the shoes of a soldier defending his country, shows you the horrors and the truths of war from a neutral perspective. That's right; neutral perspective. No bullshit "stop the war" venting here, nor is it mindless "Kill! Kill! Kill!" blabbering. Sabaton's lyrics are gritty, dark, and to the point.
The music here isn't as good as on their debut "Metalizer" (actually released 2 years later---but that's another story), but it's still very good. The songs here are midpaced, heavy, crushing war anthems with gruff vocals courtesy of the aforementioned Joakim, which seem to be a bit higher then the instruments in the mix (just a minor mistake, though, the album still sounds fine). And the band has some very cool riffs here, especially in "Reign of Terror" and "Wolfpack", in contrast to the more midpaced title track, "Stalingrad", and "Purple Heart." All absolutely first-rate songs though. There are filler tracks like "Counterstrike" and "Into the Fire", but these are short and still enjoyable, so it's not that much of a problem.
Special mention must be given to "Panzer Batallion" for being absolutely fucking cool. It's the song that seems to have gotten most people here into the band, and it's one of the first tracks I heard by them, and cheered me up after a bad morning. Just listen to that chorus and headbang. "DEATH IN THE SHAPE OF A PANZER BATALLION!"
"Purple Heart" is a great song, and one of the best on the disc. The lyrics revolve around the Purple Heart, a medal of honour given to soldiers who have been wounded or killed while serving the U.S. army, and it almost sounds like a ballad. But it's not; this song kicks just as much ass as all of the others on here. And it truly represents the spirit of Sabaton, as well, a serious and sober Power Metal band who realize the truth of war, and are paying their respect with songs like this. Absolutely first rate, and it sets this band apart from the mindless generic Helloween clones by leaps and bounds.
But wait---isn't there one more song on here? "Metal Machine" it is! This is the only song on here that doesn't revolve around war, and it's also the catchiest on the disc, too. It pays tribute to the great 80s metal bands such as Iron Maiden, Dio, and Manowar, and I still haven't gotten tired of that damn chorus!
Sabaton are a unique band, and I can only hope they keep putting out great metal for years to come. Because this is one of the few power metal bands that breaks away from the stereotypical image the genre has gotten, and it should get respect for being such. Highly, highly recommended.
Starting from nineties, a good deal of bands from Northern Europe emerged in Heavy Metal scene, most of which are death and black metal. With their lands’ climate’s effect, they offered their music to listeners with a pessimist, schizoid and loser approach. One of the newer bands hailing from this fruitful land is Sabaton, a young Swedish group. I believe that this band, members of which are 23-24 years old in average, shall find its place among the important groups of heavy metal scene.
The band, which was founded in 1999, released their debut album, “Fist for Fight”, from a small Italian label, “Underground Symphony”. After this release, which did not draw attention much, they made their impact with their second album titled "Primo Victoria" in 2005 and they participated in important metal festivals, such as "Gates of Metal" and "Sweden Rock". But they are treating “Primo Victoria” as their debut at their website. I am unable to see why they are dismissing “Fist for Fight”, maybe for reasons that are unknown to me. Though they give the impression of an ordinary heavy metal band at first listen, they have a very special feature that distinguishes them from their kind. This special feature is Joakim Broden’s strong, deep, rich and barbaric vocals. Though Joakim reminds Chris Boltendahl, vocals of German Heavy Metal masters Grave Digger, I can safely say that he is much better; Joakim has a more aesthetic style compared to Chris. His singing of the songs in an anthem style has definitely proved itself to be original. We are faced with magnificent vocals, being supported with choir chorus partitions in parts. In fact, the album is opened with neither guitar arpeggio nor an intro, but with Joakim’s scream. This must be an indication of how much the band trusts its vocalist. I have already placed Joakim Broden among my chronically favorite vocalists, Ronnie James Dio and Steve Grimmet (of Grim Reaper). Moreover, he has added keyboards to his success in vocals and played all keyboards in the album. It may seem as exaggeration but, in my opinion, Joakim Broden is the best heavy metal voice appeared within last decade.
My acquaintance with Sabaton occurred as the dark guard of "Kuzey Ormaný" fanzine whispered into my ear, “There is a band called Sabaton, it’s just right for you”, at a concert night. I recognized what a serious music I had faced with as soon as I downloaded “Panzer Battalion” from their website. There were no groundless fantasy elements or a chain of pessimistic lyrics, nor it was a music that had forgotten its roots; it was totally European Heavy Metal. Sabaton has shaped its music with strong, stubborn guitar riffs and keyboard use that creates an epic mood in the background. Their musical structure mostly follows the path of German metal giants, such as Grave Digger, Accept and Helloween. Their lyrics are about wars. “Panzer Battalion’s" subject is USA's besiege of Iraq, "Into the Fire’s" is Vietnam War, and “Primo Victoria's” is the landing of Normandy, which took place at the end of WWII. Moreover, Stalingrad is about the battle between Russia and Germany. The only song that is not about war is the epilogue, “Metal Machine”. Its lyrics are formed by using the song titles of metal bands like Iron Maiden, Kreator, Judas Priest, Dio, Manowar, Rainbow, WASP, Accept, Helloween and Black Sabbath; it is, in a way, a “tribute to Godfathers” song.
Primo Victoria is a very important album that should be considered in terms of the continuity of Heavy Metal music. They are far from the handicap of confusing musical change with musical progression. They have mixed the effects of the geography they are living in into classical heavy metal with a very successful effort and they have created beautiful, fun-to-listen music.
First I was wondering what Sabaton is all about. After their first album, you can think it's simply another power metal band, only with a bit lower vocals (or at least the vocalist wear pants that are not too tihgt for him ;) ) and heavier riffs.
If you thought so, then Primo Victoria - Sabaton's second release, will crush you into ground and leave with astonement, wanting to hear this album more and more.
First of all - it doesn't sound like a power metal. I'd call it or classic heavy or well... panzer metal. Lyrically, whole album covers wars and conflicts. I must say I haven't seen any metal album covering THAT amount of wars before.
So what do we have?
A bit of World War II - D-Day, Stalingrad and even some U-Bots. A little of Iraqi conflict - Desert Storm and as far as I'm concerned - recent Iraq Assault. Some Vietnam - no particular events, but overally, Israeli 6-day war and a closing track - not particulary connected with any war, just to relax a bit. (Of course if you can do this listening to Sabaton)
Lyrics are overally great. I like them, they maybe don't tell much about those events, but providing that you know what it is all about - they give a perfect lyrical illustration.
Music... well... You have to hear it to know what it is all about. If Fist for Figtht was good, this is 100 times better. As I wrote before - it crushes listener into the ground (of course, on a good stereo system :) )
Finally - tracks. Well... all 9 are great... All 9 are catchy like hell but among them some are more noticeable than the other. First of all - title track, Primo Victoria - great chorus, makes you feel almost like before the D-Day. Panzer Battalion - great atmosphere, again - you can almost hear the tracks rolling. Finally - Purple Heart. Track titled from the name of the US medal awarded "post mortem". It could be a ballad. But it isn't. And it's goddamn good besides, gives you something to think about.
I've mentioned only 3 out of 9 tracks, but don't worry - other keep the same high level of great metal, and those are simply, my favourites.
So what should I write to sum up Primo Victoria...? They did what nobody did before - make a full length album dedicated to war, conflicts and all emotions that are connected with it. They did it in great style. They, somehow, created a new quality of making such songs. If you like theme of war - a must hear. But if you only like great music - then you wouldn't be disappointed.
This is the second album released by the swedish band Sabaton and geus what folks? It's marvelous!
Sabaton has realy found the way to bring war into music. Before ever heard of this band one might have thought that Metalica's "One" was superb but this?
It may sound easy in theory: You take guitar rifs that are both aggresive as technical, add a bass boost and drums that don't have to be dubble bass drums and blastbeats all the time, add one great metal voice and you have yourself a band. Sabaton proofs for all of those, that this theory can be put in practice, only if you know what the hell your acctually doing.
For instance, it begins realy aggresive, and one can only wonder if they can keep up such an atmosphere troughout the entire album. By the time you've reached the wonderfull "primo victory" (which starts with only vocals and hits you like a dresden fire bombardement) you think you've seen their best. Think again! Stalingrad, Counterstrike, all of the entire album breathes war! war war war! and I don't mean the black metal concept of war (which I personaly very well can endure), but the true basics of it: pain, death, a struggle for freedome and a whole lot of history lessons.
The lyricks are so well written they blow your head of like a .44, but they are unnescecary (or how the hell you'd write it), for the musical aspects overpower the lyricks. It continues troughout the album, bringing you much closer to the german lines than any band has ever done. By the time the cd's stopped playing, you'll still hear the sound of bursting grenade shells and you'll find yourself headbanging and airboxing ten minutes after the last note.
last note on the vocal work, it sounds like a ten feet sober Lemmy who had his voice mutaded! It's one of those voices you hear, and if you would meet the vocalist in the streets, you'd immediatly recognize his voice. And who would want it to be any other way?
What have these guys done? They made war into music! And I love it, as well as you will, indefinatly!
Sabaton’s debut “First for Fight”, released in 2002, was a good power metal record that differentiated itself from the crowd based pretty much solely on the uniqueness of frontman Joakim Broden’s gruff yet melodic vocals. For their sophomore effort the band have exceeded all expectations I had for them, creating an album that is sure to be on my best-of list at the end of the year.
The lyrical subject matter, if you haven’t already guessed, is about war in general, and WWII in particular (not all songs). In a trend that hopefully more bands follow (power metal bands are terribly guilty of this) the album begins with the excellent title track and not some silly 30-second wasted intro noise that no one ever listens to more than once. Honestly, I never got the point of sticking a quiet, boring synth intro at the beginning of an album. Well, Sabaton don’t do it here, so we’re good to go. Right when the instruments kick in on the first track you’ll quickly notice the massive production this thing received. Everything is crystal-clear – the riffs are thick and weighty, the drums are forceful but not overpowering, and the bass is fine. Kudos to Tommy Tägtgren at Abyss Studios for the stellar production job (could we really expect anything else?).
Broden’s vocals haven’t changed much at all. They’re still deep and gruff without coming close to being any sort of growl. A valid comparison might be the Dark at Dawn singer, Thorsten Kohlrausch, though they don’t sound completely alike. Broden essentially stays within a narrow range but this range fits the music perfectly. It’s refreshing to hear a singer not try to do too much. Broden knows his capabilities and writes melodies accordingly. I guess this isn’t surprising since Broden is, after all, the main force in the band.
One thing that really impresses on this record is the level of consistency seen throughout. The length is kept to a minimum, clocking in at a little over 40 minutes – the perfect length for a fun record like this. With 9 songs this comes out to be 4-5 minute songs that are catchy and interesting without being overlong. Standout tracks are everywhere: the excellent title track with its stirring chorus, “Reign of Terror” with its steady double bass barrage right at the beginning, “Wolfpack”, another track with a great chorus, and so on. In fact, the choruses are fantastic throughout. Keyboards are kept to a minimum in most songs, though some do feature slightly cheesy keyboard work (mostly short intros). Much the same, the drummer restrains his use of the double bass drums so as to not make the whole thing a tiring click-fest.
This release has everything power metal fans could hope for: great guitar playing, awesome drumming, fun, catchy songs with relatively intelligent lyrics, and a short playing time that begs for repeated listens. If you don’t mind the rougher vocal style (again, it’s just low-range power metal singing, not growling) then “Primo Victoria” is a no-brainer to pick up. In fact, its appeal should extend well beyond the power metal crowd. Fans of traditional heavy metal should like this as well. Instead of cramming a mixed bag of 15 songs onto a record Sabaton simply wrote 9 very solid and catchy tunes to deliver an album that just might be one of the best of 2005. Well done!