1. Attero Dominatus 2. Nuclear Attack 3. Rise Of Evil 4. In The Name Of God 5. We Burn 6. Angels Calling 7. Back In Control 8. Light In The Black 9. Metal Crüe
The name of Sabaton is not especially well known in heavy metal today, but ever since the 2005 debut LP from this Swedish group, they are often cited as ‘power metal for people who don’t like power metal’. Although no single group is likely to change a skeptic’s mind about falsetto, leather pants, or glorious winged steeds of eternal destiny, Sabaton are a good place to start (namely for the fact that they don’t exhibit any of those aforementioned traits). Rather, on this second full-length, ‘Attero Dominatus’, we find throaty hollers instead of falsetto, camouflage in place of leather, and a Panzer division rather than unicorns.
In keeping with that image, Sabaton’s lyrics are almost exclusively oriented around WWII; ‘Rise of Evil’ chronicles the Nazi aspiration to a 1000-year Reich, while the focus of others such as ‘Nuclear Attack’ should be more than obvious. Sabaton’s consistency on this front helps the album keep its momentum, but after forty straight minutes of it, ‘Attero Dominatus’ begins to sound like a testosterone retrofitting of Roger’s & Hammerstein’s canon of WWII musicals (South Pacific et al).
For the most part, though, Sabaton’s music is easy to get into. Aside from a few upbeat anomalies, ‘Attero Dominatus’ is comprised of chugging, fairly basic chord progressions at middling tempos that march on like fist-pumping Manowar anthems. The production is thick and full, with enough space given to the keyboards to make their presence known but not dominate the mix. Sabaton’s songwriting is taut, with few frills or flourishes and limited solos, although some songs do drag on longer than necessary, especially as ‘Rise of Evil’ at 8:19.
As mentioned above, singer Joakim has a voice in the good Teutonic tradition, thick and burly, harking back to Grave Digger or even Kreator at times. Lacking any vibrato to speak of, Joakim instead relies on a snappy delivery to get his lyrics out, only rarely drawing out any notes longer than a beat or two. This sort of economy is generally anathema to power metal’s characteristic excess, but in the militaristic context of ‘Attero Dominatus’ it is fitting and, ultimately, is one of Sabaton’s most defining musical traits.
Focused as they may be, Sabaton do reveal their cheesy side once. After forty relatively severe minutes, the album’s closer ‘Metal Crüe’ glides along like bubblegum pop (seriously, Toto’s ‘Rosanna’ comes to mind) compared to the gritty trench music that precedes it. And although Sabaton otherwise stay true to their guns, those guns can muster only so potent a salvo; the music of ‘Attero Dominatus’ is solidly fun, but its impression is minimal and cannot quite match its thematic aspirations.
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