With frustration at the current Covid-19 situation growing by the day, it’s not too fanciful to suggest that some people might need an occasional, brief release of aggression to help with the continuing sense of isolation. So, before you start primal screaming into the nearest pillow, hurling dinner plates at your partner-cum-cellmate, or punching the cat, you could always just grab Weapons of Tomorrow (Napalm Records), the new album by Californian thrashers Warbringer, and headbang your quarantine problems away. Continue reading
Swedish Heavy Metal kings Sabaton have made a career out of examining the history of conflict, be it world wars, or the internal fallout people deal with. Neither cliched or romanticized, the band examines the realities of war and what happens to societies in its wake. They take their themes very seriously, not just capitalizing on a fascination, but reveling in helping keep history alive. One might argue that their new album The Last Stand (Nuclear Blast) is the most fully realized, most concept heavy piece in their entire career. Ghost Cult’s Keith Chachkes chatted with singer Joakim Brodén and bassist Pär Sundström to chat to preview the new album:
Having had an early preview of The Last Stand, we were impressed with with how much story and information is packed into each track. We asked to hear a little bit about the record and the concept for it:
Joakim: Yeah. It’s a bit outside of the comfort zone for us, because normally, it’s the thing in modern warfare except for all of this extra stuff. I think on this one, both musically and lyrically, we are expanding our horizons a bit if you will. We are covering the concept of “The Last Stand”, the Battle of Thermapyle in anchient Greece. We pretty much traveled all around the world both times geographically, and we end up in the Soviet – Afghan war of 1988. Yeah. They’re all from different places on this planet, and different places in time actually.
War is an aspect of society that informs all human life. Sabaton really pays a service through their music to educate fans. People don’t give you enough credit for it.
Joakim: We’re not trying to educate anyone, but I’ll be the first to say if somebody learns something from listening to our songs, then I will be the first person to be happy about it, if you know what I mean. We are of course not teachers or professors, but we can tell so many fantastic stories or about fantastic people in our past, so why make up new ones?
There is a real cinematic feel to this album too. Not just samples, not just the speeches in there, in ‘The Lost Battalion’, or ‘Uncertain’. Was that something that you guys were focused on with the writing, or is that a natural Sabaton thing?
Joakim: I think it comes with the subject. We never think if we are going to go bigger, smaller, faster, harder, slower. We just want to be better. Whatever is necessary to make that dream come true, and to make every, the natural progress … Yeah, we try to focus on becoming better rather than changing because sometimes better is harder, sometimes better is softer or faster. On this level, with those subjects, the epic feel is stuck on a way we didn’t feel, and we hope others feel the same way.
‘Shiriama’ and later album tracks like ‘The Winged Hoosar’ really captured me lyrically. Some of the best lyrics the band have ever done individually.
Pär: Thanks man. I’m happy to hear that.
I loved the lyric video for ‘Lost Battalion’ too: the idea and the execution. I know a lot of bands are on the fence about how effective lyric videos can be.
Joakim: In a sense, for us, having a … I don’t want to say that other bands who do it don’t matter. I’m not trying to say that at all out of respect for others, but for a band like us, we’ve spent so much time on lyrics and the research, and it can give the song a much deeper meaning. I think a good lyric video is really important than carrying camp packs trying to look cool sometimes. We take our music very seriously, but we don’t take ours levels very seriously if you know what I mean.
Sabaton is always a fun band, especially to see live. It seems like they are having a lot of fun out there, despite the often dark subject matter. A lot of bands from the scene, where it’s very dark subject matter, the bands tend to come off as dour, evil, and extreme. To a man, the guys in Sabaton seem very sweet.
Joakim: Yeah. When it comes to metal heads, why would we be aggressive. We can get it out in our music or onstage. In general, nine times out of ten at least, the metal head is usually the nicest one who will stand up and help an old lady across the road.
Sabaton fans are some of the most loyal in the world. What should they look forward to with the new album?
Pär: I think the roller coaster ride is what you’re looking for. The Last Stand is short as it gets for an album, but we’re going in directions we haven’t gone before. I feel very strongly about it because this is one of the best albums we ever did I think.
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