Like all native Virginians I’m a bit of a history wonk. Add to that my military background and love of loud music and it was inevitable that these guys would eventually pop up on my radar. Because history metal is awesome!
Interestingly, I nearly rejected Sabaton entirely on first listen. I was out running the first time Pandora offered them up on my headphones. I could only pick out bits and pieces of lyrics (it was probably either Primo Victoria or Attaro Dominatus) and my thought process went sort of like, “Hey, this band sounds really cool, wait a second, are they singing about Nazis? What sort of Neo-fascist bullshit is this!?! And why does Pandora think I’d find it acceptable?”
I went home and looked up the band on Wikipedia and discovered that 1) yes, they probably were singing about Nazis, but 2) only about how they were terrible people and were eventually defeated by the Allies.They certainly demonstrate a heavy focus on WWII themes, but they have also covered such diverse subjects as the Falklands conflict, The Six Days War, Vietnam, and an entire album of songs based on Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. Nor have they neglected their native Sweden with an album about their own Charles XII (Carolus Rex).
Despite my background, my historical interests tend to lie outside of military history, so becoming a Sabaton fan was what finally got me interested enough to go out and learn more about the subjects of the songs. For example, I had no idea that the North African campaign involved an attempt to overrun Greece (Coat of Arms), and, while I knew there were expatriate flyers in the Battle of Britain, I had no idea that they had their own wings organized by country of origin, now I can even tell you which one was which (Aces in Exile). What is really fabulous is that military history seems to be a genuine interest of the band members and not just a gimmick. I spoke with Robban Bäck after a US show and, he was genuinely excited when I told him about my military background, and proceeded to chat with me about what a great time he had had getting to go to Fort Campbell and see the home of the 101st Airborne and tour the museum.
These guys have done so much great music it’s hard to know what to give you a taste of. In honor of that chat with Robban and because it’s probably their slickest video, if not my favorite song, I present Screaming Eagles:
And because I cannot hear it without weeping helplessly, Purple Heart (not an official video):