Heroes On Tour
Nuclear Blast Records
Release Date: 4 March 2016
Review by Paul Southwell
Swedish power metal band Sabaton have been steadily gaining strength since their formation many years ago, around the time when nu-metal was the ruling scene in heavy music circles. They have weathered the storms of such trends, steadfast in their approach and developed their heavy metal sound through honing their live performance, and it is enjoyably infectious.
This fantastic live set release sees the band finally being one of the headlining acts at Germany’s Wacken Open Air festival in 2015, their third appearance at the festival. Even without the visual aspect of Sabaton’s live show that the DVD release conveys, the CD audio recording captures the live vibe remarkably well with crisp sonics. The live sound is clear, well mixed and atmospheric, rounded off by amusing banter that gives the more grandiose and generally war themed lyrical content a humourous edge.
Highlights abound with some classic songs from the majority of their back catalogue taking top honours, although this may be due to crowd familiarity with the material. The songs Panzerkampf, Primo Victoria, and Screaming Eagles, sit firmly in the aforementioned category whilst Soldier of 3 Armies, and No Bullets Fly, are two great examples of new songs that offer an undeniably catchy, raise your fist style of heavy metal. Given this tour is in support of their most recent album Heroes, there are plenty of new tracks trotted out and they are performed brilliantly.
Despite a personnel upheaval a few years back with touring members formally joining the ranks, the band is clearly super tight. The album also exhibits some excellent musicianship with double bass drum patterns, galloping guitar rhythms, loud power chords, screaming neo-classical guitar solos and apt harmony guitar lines.
All the songs are played with conviction and are thus highly entertaining for the listener. Even when it is a tad formulaic with expected key changes and a slice of power metal cheesiness added to proceedings, the crowd chants and sing-alongs prove that the band went over a treat as a headline act. Sabaton live are a power metal blitzkreig and this live album reinforces that well-earned reputation. Highly recommended.