Posts Tagged ‘Sabaton’

Now my previous lists have been specific to genre, but this is my ultimate top 20 of the year. It’ll include some records that you won’t have seen in previous ones as, for example, I only really heard two good power metal records this year, so I can’t really make a list from it. Also, where do you categorise certain bands, like Triptykon, who cover a wide spread of genres? Anyhow, my top favourites of the year are as follows:

20. Killer Be Killed – S/T – A supergroup that combines equal parts of their bands to create awesome

19. Grand Magus – Triumph and Power – Riffs of stone and hooks of great magnitude, the title track alone is one of my favourite songs of the year.

18. Winterfylleth – The Divination of Antiquity – Another record of spellbinding black metal from England’s finest. Windswept and vast

17. Edguy – Space Police – Catchy as hell and stupidly anthemic, Tobias and the squad bring some RAWK to their power metal greatness

16. Electric Wizard – Time to Die – A suffocating, occult riddled drag down doom alley. Evil and heavy as fuck

15. Mastodon – Once More Round the Sun – A big improvement over The Hunter and Mastodon’s prog doom trip extends further

14. Mayhem – Esoteric Warfare – A follow up to ‘Ordo Ad Chao’ was always going to be difficult, but the True Mayhem brought out another stormer

13. At the Gates – At War With Reality – Thank fuck we finally have the follow up to ‘Slaughter of the Soul’. They put all copycats to shame.

12. EyeHateGod – EyeHateGod – NOLA sludge titans send Joey LaCaze off with one of their most superlative records yet. Angry, harsh and utterly devastating

11. Decapitated – Blood Mantra – Poland’s finest sons of death continue their streak of blinding records with yet another punishing exercise in tech death

10. Anaal Nathrakh – Desideratum – Nasty, abrasive and skullfuckingly epic in parts, Anaal do things their way, and better than most

9. Inter Arma – The Cavern – A Spellbinding 45 minute trip through the mind of one of post metal and doom’s brightest sparks. Wonderful

8. Hour of Penance – Regicide – Always brutal and relentless, I’ve grown fonder and fonder of this record the longer the year has gone on. Death to all!

7. Dead Congregation – Promulgation of the Fall – Nasty, lurching death metal chaos, belching death and pestilence to all

6. Whalerider – Thanatos – A surprise late entry, and its been on constant rotation. A stormingly good rock record with doses of psych doom weirdness too

5. Panopticon – Road to the North – Soaring and scorching black metal, vast and hypnotic. Epic black metal is the theme this year, and its great

4. Sabaton – Heroes – I fucking love this band. No one writes more anthemic metal tunes than this. Fantastic record and catchy as hell

3. Mount Salem – Endless – A starkly beautiful trad doom record with perfect vocals and atmosphere. The fact it is third on my list is testament to its quality

2. Behemoth – The Satanist – The rebirth of a legend and a triumphant return. Any other year this would’ve been the best by a country mile

1. Triptykon – Melana Chasmata – Nothing could beat the pure misanthropy, despair and heaviness wrought from Tom G Warrior. A simply monumental release

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Seeing Sabaton live reaffirms my love of good old fashioned heavy metal shows. I mean, I love a live ritual, a show that is more intense or savage, but there’s something incredibly life affirming about Sabaton in the live arean. The QMU in Glasgow was packed by the time we got there, and the queue outside led to me almost missing all of Tyr. Thankfully I caught the last two tracks which were well received by the crowd, particularly the horns in the air charm of ‘By the Sword in My Hand’.

Korpiklaani are normally somewhat of a party band. Invariably totally pished when playing, tonight they appeared to be relatively sober and thus somewhat disappointing. That’s not to say they weren’t good; leading the crowd in a rousing version of ‘Vodka’ and the always popular ‘Juden Vidaa’ the band were tight and entertaining. I just felt they missed some part of the spectacle (last time we saw them, the vocalist was so hammered he walked along the bar top while singing and promptly fell off!).

Sabaton however were better than off the scale. Racing on the stage with ‘Ghost Division’, the band are a whirlwind of anthemic power metal thunder. Led by the charismatic and banterful Joachim Broden, they play hit after hit, new songs like ‘Night Witches’ and ‘To Hell and Back’ fitting in perfectly with classic cuts like ‘The Art of War’ and ’40-1′. Offering to sing in Swedish rather than English for a rousing rendition of ‘Gott Mit Uns’ goes down well with a Scottish crowd, and between every song there are massive ‘SA-BA-TON’ chants. The band look genuinely taken aback by the reception, and we lap up every fist pumping chorus. Sabaton are energising, life affirming, brilliance. Pure heavy metal at its most electrifying.

I plan to spend most of December catching up on as many records from 2014 that I’ve missed so that my end of year lists can be a bit more researched and accurate than they would be if I wrote them now. However, I know for a fact that this is a list I can put together now. There’s a definite number of records I keep coming back to from 2014, and many will feature again in lists in a month’s time. But for now, here are my most played records of 2014:

1. Mount Salem – Endless: A hauntingly brilliant doom record, and probably my favourite discovery of 2014. A full blown contender for my favourite record of this year, Mount Salem are something very special.

2. Killer Be Killed – S/T: A supergroup that matches the term in every way. ‘Wings of Feather and Wax’ is up there with my favourite songs of the year too

3. Mastodon – Once More Round the Sun: A storming comeback from the masters of prog doom

4. Behemoth – The Satanist: I see these guys in 10 days time for the first time, and the newest record has been one of 2014’s most astounding achievements

5. Triptykon – Melana Chasmata: Another harrowing trip into the darkness of Tom G Warrior. Bleak and beautiful

6. Edguy – Space Police: My girlfriend’s favourite record this year I believe, and ‘Love Tyger’ is the stupidest brilliant song of the year. It’s so FUCKING catchy. I love this record

7. Sabaton – Heroes: I see these guys in only 6 days’ time and I think their newest record has their strongest collection of anthems since The Art of War. ‘We saw crosses grow on Anzio!’

Today I took my first major step towards truly starting ‘The Project’. ‘The Project’ is my new codename for my ‘History of the Metal of History’ book that I’m starting to write. Mainly because I can’t think of a catchier title than that yet.

I emailed Sabaton to ask if they’d be interested in contributing to my book. I say book, it’s not really a book as its more a large collection of notes, scrawlings and ideas, but hell, it might be a book one day. Also, having taken this step, it really makes the decision real. I’m really going to do this. Wow, I’ve just committed myself to writing something that is potentially HUGE in scope during the summer months where my quiet country pub will probably be overrun with tourists, locals and other drinkers. Where will I find the time?!

Too late now. Even if they email back and say no, they’re too busy, I won’t mind. Sabaton inspired this whole project. I’m a man who reads a lot of history. I studed it at university and possess a degree. That’s gotta count for something right? Sabaton lyrics steered my studying in different directions from where I might have wandered. Yeah, they do a lot of tanks and war stuff, but where else could I have learned about King Carolus and his triumphant march to empire for Sweden? Nowhere, if not for Sabaton.

The project begins…

How to react to ‘Heroes’ is really a question of who you are. Do you like massive singalong choruses about war and soldiers and TANKS?! Do you appreciate a power metal band capable of writing a ballad that doesn’t sound like a Michael Buble song with a killer solo (‘The Battle of Bull’)? Do you like TANKS?! Then this is 2014’s best record so far.

Well, I’ll clarify that a bit better. This is 2014’s most FUN record so far, wrestling with the new Edguy album for the top spot. Sure, on a musical, emotional, visceral level, releases from Behemoth, Triptykon etc are better records, but you are unlikely to get a record that exemplifies the fucking joy that metal can bring people more than ‘Heroes’. Just listen to the infectious melody that leads ‘To Hell and Back’ to worm its way deeper and deeper into your brain until you go for a piss at 3am and find yourself whistling it.

‘Heroes’ is a record full of such moments. Opening with the bombastic power of ‘Night Witches’, which brings back pleasant memories of ‘Ghost Divison’ from ‘The Art of War’, it’s a guaranteed gig opening track with its fist pumping refrain ‘unexpected, undetected, wings of glory, tell the story’! Joakim Broden holds court with his distinctive vocal style, infusing songs with power and might. The album deals with the concept of, unsurprisingly, heroes, from the female Soviet bombers (Night Witches), to Witold Pilecki (Inmate 4859) who went undercover in Auschwitz to relay the truth about the Holocaust. Fittingly, the music is all very heroic and epic. You can imagine vast crowds singing along with ‘No Bullets Fly’, ‘Smoking Snakes’ or second single ‘Resist and Bite’.

Sabaton was the band that inspired my ongoing project to examine the influence of history on metal bands and songs as a lyrical inspiration. They manage to create a narrative throughout each song that tells the story without sacrificing melody nor catchiness. Nor are they constrained by taboo subjects, having taken on the Holocaust again after ‘The Final Solution’ from 2010’s ‘Coat of Arms’, or celebrating the 12th and 9th German armies that protected fleeing refugees over the Elbe while retreating from the Soviets (‘Hearts of Iron). War takes a toll on all sides equally, whether victorious or in defeat, and its refreshing to see it explored.

‘Heroes’ is a brilliant, energising record. With a discography full of some of the most memorable power metal songs of the past 5-6 years, it’s always a pleasure to see Sabaton create a record that mixes all of their best traits while reigning in some of the overindulgence of ‘Carolus Rex’. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go and attempt to remove ‘To Hell in Back’ from my brains… Fuck it. ‘CROSSES GROW ON ANZIO, WHERE NO SOLDIERS SLEEP AND WHERE HELL’S SIX FEET DEEP!’