SABATON
"Coat of Arms"

(Nuclear Blast)

01. Coat of Arms
02. Midway
03. Uprising
04. Screaming Eagles
05. The Final Solution
06. Aces in Exile
07. Saboteurs
08. Wehrmacht
09. White Death
10. Metal Ripper

RATING: 7/10

With the exception of folks that just can't stand power metal, most would agree that if nothing else SABATON's "Coat of Arms" is good 'ole over the top, head banging fun. Nothing is understated, nuance is thrown out the window, and the approach is pure power metal grandiosity. None of it adds anything new to a genre that in typical form seeks first to induce fist-pumping, sing-along moments; shredded cheese and all. Most wouldn't expect anything else.

And for the most part, SABATON delivers the goods on "Coat of Arms". In the process they offer nearly an album's worth of lyrics based on some of the events of World War II that is as interesting as it is sometimes oddly juxtaposed against the glory and glitter of the music. Consider "The Final Solution", the marching cadence and effervescent keyboard melodies paired with lyrics about infamous Nazi concentration camp "Auschwitz" (as in "enter the gates, Auschwitz awaits"), one example of a chorus that you'll catch yourself singing just before realizing exactly what it is your singing about. Yet SABATON pulls off the history lesson with power metal accompaniment. There are a handful of very catchy tracks here too, including "Uprising" and its choral female backing vocals (the choral enhancements are heard throughout) and the surprisingly strong "Screaming Eagle". Joakim Broden's mid-range, marginally gritty, vocals add a measure of toughness to the otherwise bright 'n shiny musicality, providing a welcome balance. A more traditional power metal voice wouldn't have given the tracks the same oomph. The album closes with "Metal Ripper", a song that musically delivers in the same vein, yet peppers the lyrics with a potpourri of tributes to classic heavy metal songs ("Crazy Train", etc), as well as teasing for a few seconds at the start with the opening lick from JUDAS PRIEST's "The Ripper". It is an area in which bands like DREAM EVIL excel. SABATON follows suit in similarly effective fashion.

All in all, "Coat of Arms" is an enjoyable gush of power metal excess that comes with more than a few choruses that'll stick with you for a while, whether you want them to or not. It is an agreeable representation of the style, if not exactly a watershed release.

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