Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog) (last update 5/23/2017)

April 10, 2011

Sabaton ~ Coat Of Arms

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Style: power metal, heavy metal, progressive metal, Swedish metal
Label: Nuclear Blast
Year: 2010
Home: Sweden

Members: Joakim Broden ~ vocals
Rickard Sunden, Oskar Montelius ~ guitars
Daniel Mullback ~ drums
Daniel Myhr ~ piano
Par Sundstrom ~ bass

Additional: Stefan Eriksson ~ guitar
Andy Setter, Kaj Podgorski ~ drums
Kjell Bergendahl, Hakan Danielsson, Bosse Gards, Christer Gards, Pelle Hinden, Maria Holzmann, Hannele Junkala, Frank Kooistra, Asa Osterlund, Jon Nilsson, Marie-Louise Stromqvist, Emil Wigelius, Andre Sandstrom, Pontus LekaregÄrd, Mia Mullback, Sofia Lundberg ~ b. vocals

There's a long-running stereotype that heavy metal doesn't have much intellectual depth. Some of it doesn't but this ignores bands like Megadeth, Rush or Iron Maiden who have some of the most intellectually challenging lyrics in music whatever the genre. Sweden's Sabaton continue this growing trend against the stereotype with a regular focus on songs about historical wars, which would put Iron Maiden songwriter Steve Harris either to shame or into a drooling fit given his love of historically based lyrics. Since their formation in 1999 Sabaton have paid tribute to wars, including people & places famous & not, which is the most unique attribute of the band. They are far from the only metal band to sing about wars, but nobody has filled numerous albums of only war songs like them. Coat Of Arms includes songs about: the Greco-Italian war during World War II, the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 B.C., the Battle of Midway, the Warsaw Uprising, the 101st Airborne Division & the Siege of Bastogne, the Nazis & the Holocaust, the Battle of Britain, the Norwegian heavy water sabotage at Vemork & famed Finnish sniper Simo Hayha. It's a bit of historical/intellectual gluttony. The resulting lyrics, though littered with historical references, still retains a bit of the stereotypical Manowar-esque approach of singing about saviors, death, fighting, governments & personal glory so you don't need a Master's degree to understand the result nor are the lyrics any more alienating than any other metal band. There is some variation not found elsewhere, such as "Wehrmacht" about the Nazis & the effects they had on ordinary German soldiers & "The Final Solution" describing entering the gates of Auszwitz & dying there in a haunting set of lyrics. There is some sense of gimmick at play here. Though, it's no different than the band Nile which sings about Ancient Egypt. It should be mentioned that Sabaton called upon fans to suggest what battles to sing about for this latest release. The problem is that the power metal underneath it all doesn't help towards giving it a personality above the gimmick while sometimes the lyrics are lost under the music so you're not going to get the ideas expressed via a first listen. As for the music it's a mix of the many speed power metal bands & Paul Di'Anno era Iron Maiden, sans the technical-mindedness of many of their peers. If one wants epic power metal Sabaton have brought it to a new level. It really isn't that difficult of a jump, they just backed up their warrior talk with actual events & heavy handed seriousness.

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