The first thing which strikes the listener about Sabaton
's latest opus is the grandeur of it's presentation. The liner notes form a book in which the discs are housed, and whilst last years World War Live
set was presented in a similar fashion, this is on a far more opulent scale. Lyrics in Swedish and English, accompanied by historical notes and artwork which threatens to overshadow the front cover mark, Carolus Rex
, as a magnificent work even before we reach the music.
These words 'grandeur', 'opulent', and 'magnificent'; also aptly describe the record itself. Whilst the band are no strangers to theatrics, this is new ground even for Sabaton
. This is a power metal concept album very much in the vein of Helloween
and Iced Earth
; driven by it's account of the Great Northern War
of 1700-21 and replete with long, pseudo-narrative tracks such as 'The Carolean's Prayer'; which are apparently only present to drive the story forward.
herein lies the problem. This emphasis upon narrative renders the second disc almost worthless to those without fluent Swedish and, more importantly, creates a Sabaton
album without the instant anthems which fans have come to expect. '1648' sounds like a leftover from their last studio output, 'Coat of Arms', but there is no 'Primo Victoria' or 'Ghost Division
' to be found here. Album opener 'Lion
From The North
' and 'Killing Ground
' are definitely in familiar territory, but where this record really shines is in its noticeable stylistic shifts. The haunting vocal melodies of album closer 'Ruina
Imperii' make it the heaviest track which Sabaton
have produced since the 'Attero Dominatus' album, and a bonus cover of Amon Amarth
Of The Thunder God
', complete with death growls, is a surprising highlight.
Therefore, fans looking for 'Coat of Arms Part II', or even a spiritual successor to 'The Art of War
' (given its adherence to a central lyrical theme) will be somewhat disappointed. However, this marks a bold new direction for Sabaton
, which is bound to produce interesting music in the future.