Sweden's own heavy metallers Sabaton's new release is in fact two albums; one sung in English and the other in their native language. It's released in a variety of formats and this review handles the double-CD covering both versions. Since the recordings, commotion and turbulence within the band, or for reasons we probably will never know, have made them go separate ways, leaving solely lead singer Joakim Brodén and bass player Pär Sundström as the remaining original members. A new lineup is complete and the show goes on. The four band members who quit have started a new band called Civil War (!) and naturally it's no coincidence that the news are revealed simultaneously with the release of Carolus Rex.
The lyrical theme of this album is dealing with the rise and fall of the Swedish empire in the 17th and early 18th centuries. Carolus Rex means King Karl in Latin and is the signature that Karl the 12th signed documents with. Even if I could give you a lesson in Swedish war history here, I will refrain from further translations. After all, this is a review about the music they have created.
For fans to the band, just order the album or head for the record store. This is Sabaton to one hundred percent. For you who are not familiar with the band, this is pompous and easily digested heavy metal. It's riffs, pumping drums, quires, notable keyboards and their way of epic songs almost all through. If you're looking for diversity, I suggest you look somewhere else, because you won't find much of it on this record.
Having that said, after a short intro, the album ignites with a fast track (what else?) called The Lion From The North. On track number 3, Gott Mit Uns (German for God with us. Sorry, I lied earlier.), the producer and Hypocrisy / Pain main man Peter Tägtgren sings a couple of lines. It's an epic track that sticks like glue and a future live classic. Same with A Lifetime Of War; a semi-ballad with some pop-elements.
As we pass through the album from start to finish, it's even more obvious that their sound hasn't changed significantly from their past releases. 1648 sounds a lot like their earlier work. The Carolean's Prayer and the title track are epic with pumping grooves. Killing Ground and Poltava are faster songs and, in the absence of words, just straight Sabaton sounding. As the end of the record closes in, yet another epic semi-ballad is presented with Long Live The King. The last song, Ruina Imperii is a pompous track with Swedish lyrics that handles the demise of the empire.
The bonus track on disc 1 is a cover version of Amon Amarth's 2008 released super song Twilight Of The Thunder God. It's a bold move and I guess it's even a bit stupid to choose this song to cover. They do it rather well though and I think it's a cool thing to interpret a death metal song into heavy metal. It's played alike, but with keyboards and a straight heavy metal voice, even if there are some growling. Also it's not produced with the same heaviness and aggression as the original song.
What about the version in Swedish? Well, the songs are the same, but with a bit different lyrics and slightly different song titles. I would say it's smart in a business aspect, as it draws attention to the release and to the band itself. It's also cool for people who understand Swedish of course. For all of you others, you might as well purchase the English version, if you want to save some bucks.
Carolus Rex is a couple of steps better than their last release Coat Of Arms, but it doesn't reach all the way up to The Art Of War. This is indeed a good record and I don't believe their claim for fame will decrease when the two most important members and the core of the band, especially on their live shows, will continue with the new lineup.