JUNE 9th 2014
SABATON: HEROES

Review by Metal Mom

Members:
Joakim Brodén - Lead vocals
Pär Sundström - Bass
Chris Rörland - Lead guitar
Thobbe Englund - Lead guitar
Hannes van Dahl - Drums

Hometown: Falun, Sweden
Record Label: Nuclear Blast
Produced By: Peter Tägtgren
Artwork by:  Péter Sallai
        
I am about to review HEROES, the seventh studio release by Swedish heavy metallers & avid war historians. I had some trouble doing this one. I just couldn’t sit down to review, I would just enjoy, tap my fingers on the keyboards, or the table, sing along, anything ‘but’ review. So I literally had to shut it off, and get this review into print. But I am going to be listening to it again as soon as I am finished.

The idea for this album, their 7th, and the first with their three newest members, Chris, Thobbe, and Hannes started back in 2010 while they were writing lyrics for the album “Coat of Arms“. At that point they had the idea that one day they should do an album where the focus is not so much on the big battles, but on the individuals themselves, who go far beyond the call of duty…in other words, a hero. They had actually saved stories that were sent in by the fans themselves.

There must be a lot of pressure for a band to create a new concept album, and with new recruits at the helm. “Carolus Rex” was pretty much a milestone in the career of Sabaton, but stop, notice I said “was”, because their new album “Heroes”, has gone above and beyond in my opinion. I never go song by song when I review, but you really should take the time to investigate what each of the songs are about, there truly is some amazing history behind each. So a history lesson is in order…ready, pay attention:

NIGHT WITCHES: A story about the all female Russian pilots of the 588th bomber regiment, they were given the nickname “Night Witches” which came from the sound of their bomb planes, which is all you could hear in the night, making the enemy think of broomsticks of witches.

NO BULLETS FLY:  This is about Franz Stigler, a German pilot who risked his life in three different ways when he was ordered to chase and shoot down an American B17 bomber, piloted by 2nd Lt. Charlie Brown, returning from a successful air raid. When he came close he realised the bomber was severely damaged by anti aircraft fire during the raid and he decided to escort it out of harms way instead of shooting it down. In doing this he risked both being court martialed, which most likely would have led to execution, and being shot down by the gunners of the B17 as well as being targeted by friendly anti aircraft fire.

SMOKING SNAKES: Most of us know or have heard the expression “when pigs fly”, but in a different part of the world another popular saying was “It’s more likely for a snake to smoke a pipe than for the Brazilian expeditionary force to go to the front and fight” in the same context. However, one day in 1944 the snake did smoke and over 25,000 Brazilians left to join WW2. And this is the story about 3 of them who fought so bravely against a much larger opposing force that their enemies buried them with the words: Here rest 3 Brazilian heroes..

INMATE 4859:  September 1940 a Polish soldier, Witold Pilecki used faked identity to be arrested and sent to Auschwitz, which he planned to infiltrate and destroy from within. Boldly, Pilecki organized the opposition from within, hoping one day friends from outside would liberate the camp. When no help came he decided to flee and inform the world of the atrocities inside. He managed  to flee and also bring secret documents which he planned to use as proof, even then he was not believed, as the stories seemed exaggerated. After the war he was arrested for treason and executed.

TO HELL AND BACK: A story of Audie Murphy, the most decorated US soldier in WW2. There are simply too many stories about his deeds to even try to cover them in such a short text, but among fellow soldiers he was truly a hero, a great inspiration. When he returned from the war he suffered heavily from post-traumatic stress (back then called shell shock) after a long time on medicines he finally locked himself into a motel for 1 week to cure his addiction of the drugs. After this he became a very famous movie star and even acted in the movie about himself.

THE BALLAD OF BULL: Leslie “Bull” Allen was an Australian stretcher bearer who served in the pacific, his actions on Mount Tambu in New Guinea is something quite extraordinary. During one day at the front he ran straight into enemy fire alone, time after time to pick up wounded American soldiers. 12 times he went up the hill, and 12 times he came down with a wounded allied soldier on his shoulder. For this selfless act he was awarded with the US Silver star.

RESIST & BITE: The story of the Chasseurs Ardennais, whose emblem is the wild boar. A small Belgian unit of soldiers who were supposed to defend the borders and hold their ground along the K-W Line in May 1940. When the German armies, which included Rommel’s Ghost Division, approached the unit, they were supposed to retreat but due to communication failure the order never reached them. Instead they honoured their original orders, which were to defend the border at all cost. They fought so bravely and on such a large front, that they tricked the axis into believing that they were facing a force much larger than 40 rifles strong. When finally they were captured and their captors asked them -”where are the others?” they simply laughed and answered. -”There are no others, we are all!”. The song gets its title from their motto Resiste Et Mords, in English, Resist and Bite.

SOLDIER OF 3 ARMIES: The story of Lauri Törni is quite captivating. During his career as a soldier he served in 3 different armies, reached the rank of officer and was awarded with medals in all of them. Sometimes described as inhuman while superior in battle, this man started out in his homeland Finland, fought his way through WW2 on both the Finnish and German side, and then ended up dead in Vietnam, but then as a special operations soldier among the Green Berets bearing the name of Larry Thorne

FAR FROM THE FAME: Karel Janoušek was a Czechoslovakian soldier who after serving in WW1 learned how to fly. When the outbreak of WW2 came and Czechoslovakia was occupied he was fighting in the resistance until he realized that he would do more good if he made it to France and continued the fight from there. He commanded the Czechoslovak Air Force in France until their surrender and then made his way to England where he organized the first Czechoslovak Air Force units in the Royal Air Force.

HEARTS OF IRON: During the final battle of Berlin in 1945 the general of the 12th army, Walther Wenck realized that the end of the war was coming, and instead of trying to defeat the advancing Soviet forces as his orders were, he used his army to create an escape corridor out of Berlin. For such an act he would surely have been sentenced to death, but instead he ended up being responsible for up to 250,000 people safely escaping the burning city of Berlin. For some this was a battle, for him this was a rescue operation.


Now, how was that. In fact when Metaltitans did an interview with the 3 newest members, they were pretty adamant about researching the history behind Heroes, it’s not often that I take such a deep look into the lyrics of an album, it is either I like or dislike. But I am really glad that I checked out the history of each of the songs, in fact it made for a much more listening pleasure. Personally it’s an interesting way to write, take some of the worlds history and put it to song.

This album caught my attention from the very first song to the last, and even though it was all focused on war, the music was varied throughout the album, the music didn’t run into the next song, you could tell the start/finish of each.  The ballad was a hard one to get through, only because it was more like you could feel the horror that they had to live through.  Each and every song brings something different to the listening ear, and it’s amazing, not once did I even get bored, or want to move to the next track. No two songs sounded similar.  At times I felt bad listening and enjoying it so much, after all this was about war. But let me say, the guitars, the bass, the drums, the vocals, this album for SABATON, has by far pushed them over the top, exceeding any other album of theirs. And a true test, is put it in your car Cd player and listen while you drive.  Absolutely without a doubt, one of the best albums I have ever reviewed, and I have done my share.  The only problem I see, I had a tendency to drive fast because of that wonderful superior beat, so just keep your eyes open for any police that may not understand the need for speed while listening to SABATON’s “Heroes”.