Anyone know what a sabaton is? It’s a shoe, or an armoured boot. Yeah, it’s a cool name until you know this. Sabaton represent a strange landmark for me, as Coat Of Arms was one of the first albums I got as promo direct from Nuclear Blast when I became an independent writer. Album rotation aside, what is Carolus Rex and what does it do?
For the record, this is a review of the English version of the album.
Well, not a lot that Coat of Arms didn’t do. There’s the usual cavalcade of Sabaton-related mischief; songs about war, lots of keyboards and heavily accented Polish vocals. The issue that becomes apparent with Carolus Rex is that while on Primo Victoria and Art of War, the lyrical content was encased in the music, each song was memorable in it’s own right. From one overblown synth orchestra to the next double kick onslaught gradually becomes a bit of a drag. Gott Mit Uns has a fantastic hook melody before the final chorsuses, but these great moments are swept aside for monotonous chugging and lyrical sections that drag on too long.
Sure, Carolus Rex sounds infinitely majestic, it’d be hard not to with so many keys and melancholic guitar harmonies. A Lifetime Of War practically coerces you into signing a waiver that guarantees tears at it’s admittedly touching lyrics, and is one of the highlights of the album with one hell of a memorable chorus in all it’s low tempo choral glory and heart rending guitar solo. Played on top of a snow-covered mountain in the wind, naturally. The other true highlight of the album is Carolean Prayer, with a classic Sabaton guitar riff and that takes you back to the likes of Unbreakable. It’s destined to become a band classic for sure.
There’s enough for a Sabaton fan here, for sure. That said, it’s certainly not an album I’d recommend to start on, that honour is reserved for Art of War. It’s just a shame that what greatness is on Carolus Rex is sandwiched between a mess of miscellaneous left over riffs and swooshy keyboards.