Sweden’s metal band, Sabaton, has been at battle in the studios, and finally their newest album, Heroes, was released on May 16, 2014. Previous to its release though, it was released on Spotify for their faithful followers to have a first listen.
It is the same history infused metal that one would expect from Sabaton. Most of their albums contain lyrics inspired from World War 2 era. Heroes is no exception, but as the name suggests, the songs are about individual heroes of different countries who fought during World War 2. Even further, some songs have a deeper meaning. War and heroism are different for everyone, most specifically those who are involved on the front lines. Sometimes war is killing. Sometimes it’s saving lives. These are the opening lyrics of “The Ballad of Bull”, a piano led ballad that is actually pretty new for Sabaton. But they have made it work. Between the piano and the easy to understand lyrics, it is easy to close your eyes and imagine the time where a soldier saved a dozen of his men from battle.
Aside from the meaning of individual lyrics in the songs, some songs are just controversial for being on the same album. In track two, “Inmate 4859”, there is a serious tune and a catchy, yet somber, chorus easy to memorize. The song tells the story of Witold Plecki, who was probably the greatest, among many, heroes of World War 2. While in German occupied Poland, he knowingly signed up for a resistance movement which would get him imprisoned in the notorious Auschwitz death camp in order to prove to the allied powers that the holocaust was happening. He was later executed by the Russians who accused him of being an MI6 spy. Towards the end of the album is “Hearts of Iron” about German soldiers who had come to the conclusion that Germany lost the war. At first glance, it might be incomprehensible as to why a song which honors German soldiers is on this album. But Sabaton does a good job of capturing the emotions of what a German soldier must have felt at that time. Like many soldiers who sign up to fight, they were misled by propaganda, this case being Nazi propaganda. In the end, they knew they lost when they saw the flames. Their “fearless” leader killed himself leaving everyone, unable to face his consequences. The soldiers, although wondering what they had really achieved by losing, finished until capture unlike their “fearless” leader who killed himself when he came to the same realization. But the soldiers still had each other and still stood by each other for any consequence unknown at the time, be it death, capture, or for some, war crimes trials.
All in all, this is worth it to listen. Despite rebuilding the band after the last album, the great sound is still there. Heroes is a nice change of storytelling from previous albums where it focused on battles. Also for some Americans, the lyrics can be symbolic whether fighting in a war or having had people who have fought past or present as the album was released right before Memorial Day and Independence Day is coming up. Then there’s some, such as myself, who turn to Sabaton when we need a history lesson. After all, what was that guy’s name in Auschwitz? Now I know his name.