Sound — 7
Soon after Sabaton placed the final touches on their sixth studio album "Carolus Rex" in 2012, fans of the Swedish power metal band were startled to hear the announcement that the group were undergoing several changes within the lineup. In what would have to be one of the strangest of roster alternations in the genre, veteran band members Oskar Montelius, Rikard Suden, Daniel Mullback and Daniel Myhr all departed from Sabaton for unspecified reasons, leaving only vocalist Joakim Broden and bassist Par Sundstrom out of the original lineup as well as placing the future of Sabaton in question.
Perhaps all the more miraculously, the arrangement of pieces from the Sabaton puzzle were quickly resoldered with a cast of new musicians and somehow able to learn the band's catalog just in time to embark on tour in support of Iced Earth and soon enter to the studio to begin work on the band's seventh effort. Dedicated fans appropriately began to question how the absence of two-thirds of Sabaton's longest running lineup would affect the outcome of these recording sessions, as well as the band's signature unification of solid heavy metal paired with lyrical content centered around major world wars and similar conflicts.
Fortunately, any disapproving preemptive notions are quickly dissolved following the first combination of engaging battle chants and accelerating distortion throughout the opening track from Sabaton's newly released studio effort, "Heroes." Unfamiliar heavy metal listeners may find themselves gravitated towards the Accept-style vocal melodies and coordinating chord progressions which vividly decorate the album opener "Night Witches," which takes it's name from the all-female Soviet regiment from World War II. This selection sets both the lyrical and the instrumental tone for the rest of the effort, as is evident on such tracks as the slightly melodic anthem "No Bullets Fly" and the galloping guitar work on "To Hell and Back." Few surprises await dedicated listeners throughout "Heroes," save for the somewhat touching piano ballad, appropriately titled "The Ballad of Bull." While it's safe to say this cut doesn't work so seamlessly with the rest of the album, the rarely seen emotional side to Sabaton had ought to at least intrigue the interest of familiar listeners.
Lyrics — 8
Despite the band's recent dramatic lineup changes, Sabaton lead vocalist Joakim Broden delivers a consistently menacing performance while keeping the end result familiar. The new additions to the Sabaton lineup prove to beneficial to the instrumental side of "Heroes," easily reproducing the band's signature approach throughout the previously mentioned "No Bullets Fly" and "Far from the Fame," which set the groundwork for Broden to execute his unique compiling of lyrical themes. Quickly proving to be impressively proficient in this line of expertise, Broden explores a variety of scenarios ranging from the Chasseurs Ardennais in "Resist and Bite," to Lauri Torni (a soldier who served in the Finnish Army, the German Waffen-SS and the United States Army during Vietnam) in "Soldier of 3 Armies."
Overall Impression — 7
There were plenty of ways in which Sabaton's new studio album "Heroes" could have easily fallen short, however the end result is a proud compilation of intriguing lyrical content and impressive heavy metal. For a band to be able to reproduce such a performance following a significant lineup alternation is no small feat, and should be able to appeal towards dedicated Sabaton followers who were uncertain if the band had any chance of moving forward.