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Album Reviews : Sabaton – The Swedish Empire Live

By on September 11, 2013

SabatonWhat does a band do when they headline the Polish Woodstock Open Air festival and perform to over 500,000 fans (yes you read that right….five hundred thousand)? Of course, they record the show for a mega release on including DVD, Blu-Ray DVD, CD, and LP!

In January of this year Sabaton joined Nightwish on an Australian tour and the sentiment from those shows was that this band is unstoppable live. For those that unfortunately (for them) missed these shows, here’s your chance to see / hear Sabaton do what they do best, and probably better than most.

This review will be based on the Digipack CD of “Swedish Empire Live”, but you can bet this reviewer will be buying this on Blu-Ray when it’s released.

Clocking in at over an hour, the first thing that is immediately clear about this album is the crystal clear production. This is a great start as most live album really fall down in this department but this show has been captured perfectly clear where all vocals, instruments, and melodies are front and center and perfectly mixed. In summary this sounds exactly as it was intended.

Sabaton always put on a great performance and this is no exception. They truly look and sound like a band that is glad to be on stage doing what they are doing and they really do involve the crowd (as much as you can possibly involve half a million fans!). The crowd response and sing-a-longs are caught perfectly on this live set and it really does seem that they enjoy this show as much as the band does. The bands interaction and banter with the crowd between the songs really does make this an enjoyable listen throughout….and that’s coming from someone that normally avoids “live” album as much as humanly possible.

Musically this is Sabaton so you know what you are going to get. Songs about war, and fighting, and more war, with a little more fighting, all wrapped up as a nice little history lesson about ….war and fighting.

The set list contains 16 songs which touch on all Sabaton albums. It really is a perfect set list as all the hits are on offer here. From the opener “Ghost Division” to the bonus track “Metal Crue” not a single moment is wasted on stage here. Every song is an instant hit with the crowd especially tracks like “Carolus Rex”, “Midway”, and the ever-awesome “Cliffs of Gallipolli” where the crowd sings the verse and interlude in full voice.

With each repeated listening to “Swedish Empire Live” it really makes you wish you were there to witness this live as the band and crowd is on fire from start to finish. In terms of the band itself, all members are in fine form. Special mention needs to be made of vocalist Joakim Brodén who has the crowd in the palm of his hand from the moment the band appears on stage to their final bows. Boden has a very distinctive and unique voice and really has established himself as one of the best front men in metal. Seeing him live and listening to him on this recording it’s no wonder why Sabaton have built such a fervent fan base since they first hit the scene. Also, some of him between-song banter with the crowd if pure comic gold and really shows that he and his band mates are really appreciative of their position. The twin guitars of Thobbe Englund and Chris Rörland really are at the front of the mix here. Every riff, melody and solo is played with precision and exactly like it is heard on the albums. This is a very professional and polished performance by all band members. Of course, it’s all held down by a very tight rhythm section by bassist Pär Sundström and drummer Robban Bäck who puts in an inspired performance on all songs here.

There isn’t too much to say about the actual song themselves here. With such a strong catalogue, pleasing everyone would be almost impossible but the band has done a mighty fine job in putting together a set list that would please most fans of theirs. All their strongest material and crowd favorites are here, and whilst some favorites may have been missed this is a very strong set list where at a minimum all these track HAD to be played as a very minimum. Either way the crowd laps up each and every note of each and every song.

The band really does stay true to the studio versions of the songs but it really is a flawless and very energetic performance. This is also testament to some of the bands newer members who came on board after the release of “Carolus Rex” in 2012. At the time of the split a concern among many metal fans and fans of the band was if the new members could step up to the plate and take the band further. All indicators on “Swedish Empire Live” are that this isn’t an issue as the band really does sound inspired and fresh and probably the best they have sounded for many years.

The big question that must be asked when it comes to live album is this, “Is it worth getting this if I have all the albums? Is it a worthy addition to the collection?”. Normally I’d say to pass on live albums as they very rarely offer anything we haven’t seen / heard before but in this case this is definitely worth checking out on two fronts. Firstly, the songs sound heavier and more raw live. As good as Sabaton is on disc, it is really in the live setting where they really set themselves apart. If you have never seen them live this is definitely worth purchasing. Secondly, the crowd reaction and the way the band interact with the crowd really adds a lot to this live set. If you want to hear a band at the top of their game and be at one with the audience, this is the album to get.

As good as the digipack CD was to listen to, one can only imagine how much better seeing the visuals behind this is going to be. So if given the choice, I’d probably go for the Bluray or DVD editions of this album but either way regardless of which format you like, this is definitely a great representation of what Sabaton is all about and a worthy addition to any live cd / dvd / bluray collection.

Reviewers Rating: Highly recommended! 8/10

Band: Sabaton
Album: Swedish Empire Live
Year: 2013
Genre: Power Metal
Label: Nuclear Blast
Origin: Sweden
www.sabaton.net

Track listing:

01. The March To War
02. Ghost Division
03. Gott Mit Uns
04. Poltava
05. Talvisota
06. Cliffs Of Gallipoli
07. 40:1
08. Swedish Pagans
09. The Carolean’s Prayer
10. The Lion From The North
11. The Hammer Has Fallen
12. Attero Dominatus
13. The Art Of War
14. En Livstid I Krig
15. Primo Victoria
16. Metal Crüe

About

Nick is a dedicated and lifelong metal / rock fan ever since he heard Kiss Alive when it first came out. His tastes extend from anything and everything from AOR, to power metal, to thrash, to death, to progressive rock / metal, to melodic rock. Chances are if the band exists....Nick knows of them! (some might say he's metal obsessed).