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Album Review

Sabaton – “Carolus Rex” (Platinum Edition) [Album Review]

Sabaton inductees need look no further than Carolus Rex – this is the album that encapsulates the band’s unique style and sensitive subject matter, whilst still delivering a full-length that maintains consistency after six years.



Since 1999, Sabaton have thundered through the power metal scene like a Panzerwagen. With achievements ranging from eight full-lengths, tours with Dragonforce and Hammerfall, to even their own Sabaton Cruise, they show no sign of slowing down – with another as-yet-untitled full-length coming in 2019.

One of their aforementioned records was the 2012 concept double-album Carolus Rex, originally released in both English and Swedish, it remains their most successful album to date. The album documents the rise and fall of the Swedish Empire, and of its king Charles XII – a.k.a. Carolus Rex, who ruled for 21 years through triumph and tragedy. To commemorate the 300th anniversary of his death – and the band hitting quadruple platinum for the record – a Platinum Edition of Carolus Rex is being rolled out. Sporting four bonus tracks on top of the English versions of the songs, it delivers a complete “Sabaton” experience for established and new fans alike.

Carolus Rex is “typically” Sabaton from start to finish, a vocal-heavy production backed with mammoth instrumentation as it takes the listener on a journey of Swedish patriotism through one of their proudest heritages. It is slightly more “tender” to the ear than the brutal and subsequent Heroes, or The Last Stand, with less of a focus on aggressive guitar melodies and more on meaningful lyrics – maybe because national pride is at stake.

Watch the official lyric video for the single “A Lifetime Of War”.

Joakim Brodén’s lyrics are formulated in an incredibly respectful manner, balancing the hardships and the successes in the same fashion as on classics such as “Gallipoli”, “Panzerkampf”, and “40:1”. Speaking of hardships, Brodén does not shy away from the difficulties experienced by the military and their loved ones. “A Lifetime of War” and “Carolean’s Prayer” are deeply profound songs detailing the conflicts families might have had to deal with to send their children to war, or a soldier marching into battle with their fate uncertain. The vocals on both are serene and emotive, and subtle guitar riffs from Oskar Montelius and Rikard Sunden give the songs a pace of military precision.


Most of the tracks detail the life of Charles XII, capturing the strength of his character and the pride he instilled in his nation. With savage guitar riffs behind the strong vocals and chanting choirs – in particular the sinister attitude in “Poltava” as it takes on an overtly confident narrative from Charles XII, despite detailing the eponymous battle in which he lost.

It is worth listening to the album in both English and Swedish; even though English is the global language of metal, the native version sounds more rounded and complete, telling the story of the country’s history in their mother tongue. It makes one consider how much time and effort Sabaton put into the creation of this album when it was initially conceived – having to record vocals in two languages, whilst making sure both versions worked with the music already methodically and painstakingly put onto tape.

Never seen the band live? Check out this ripping rendition of “Carolus Rex”.

For those who’ve worn out the grooves of the album proper, the bonus additions of three covers and an unreleased original are great fun and break the melancholy of the recording. Most of them are devilishly heavy – especially the Amon Amarth number – and in a different vein to the rest of the record, with vicious instrumentation.

The combination of ingenious vocals and complex melodies make every song in this album enjoyable. They carry off powerful topics of battles and where lives were lost, whilst maintaining utmost respect, giving a voice to those that lost theirs. In terms of completeness, then Sabaton inductees need look no further than Carolus Rex – this is the album that encapsulates the band’s unique style and sensitive subject matter, whilst still delivering a full-length that maintains consistency even six years after initial release.


Carolus Rex Track Listing:

Disc 1 – English
01. Dominium Maris Baltici
02. The Lion from the North
03. Gott Mit Uns
04. A Lifetime of War
05. 1648
06. The Carolean’s Prayer
07. Carolus Rex
08. Killing Ground
09. Poltava
10. Long Live the King
11. Ruina Imperii
12. Twilight of the Thundergod (Amon Amarth Cover)
13. In the Army Now (Status Quo Cover)
14. Feuer Frei (Rammstein Cover)
15. Harley From Hell (previously unreleased)

Disc 2 – Swedish
01. Dominium Maris Baltici
02. Lejonet från Norden
03. Gott Mit Uns
04. En Livstid i Krig
05. 1648
06. Karolinens Bön
07. Carolus Rex
08. Ett Slag Färgat Rött
09. Poltava
10. Konungens Likfärd
11. Ruina Imperii

Run Time: 1:05:16
Release Date: November 30, 2018
Record Label: Nuclear Blast Records