Sabaton is a Swedish Power Metal band founded in 1999. Most of their songs touch on themes of war, often being about famous historical battles, especially from World War II.Initially formed as a more typical metal group with frontman Joakim Brodén also playing keyboards, their first productions, a pair of E Ps later released as Fist for Fight and their intended debut album Metalizer, were sent into Development Hell by their label at the time, Underground Symphony. In 2005 they jumped ship to Black Lodge Records and released the Concept Album Primo Victoria, which had Brodén give up keyboard duties to Daniel Mÿhr. Such war songs, composed by Brodén, bassist Pär Sundström, or both, have comprised the lion's share of their output ever since. They are currently signed to Nuclear Blast Records.The band underwent a major lineup change after the release of Carolus Rex in 2012, with Mÿhr, guitarists Rikard Sundén and Oskar Montelius, and drummer Daniel Mullback leaving due to the group's grueling touring schedule. They subsequently joined up with Astral Doors vocalist Nils Patrik Johannson to form Civil War.Current line up:
- Joakim Brodén - lead vocals (1999-present), keyboards (1999-2005, 2012-present)
- Pär Sundström - bass (1999-present), backing vocals (2012-present)
- Chris Rörland - guitars, backing vocals (2012-present)
- Hannes van Dahl - drums (2013-present)
- Tommy Johansson - guitars, backing vocals (2016-present)
- Rikard Sundén - guitars, backing vocals (1999-2012)
- Oskar Montelius - guitars, backing vocals (1999-2012)
- Richard Larsson - drums (1999-2001)
- Daniel Mullback - drums (2001-2012)
- Daniel Mÿhr - keyboards, backing vocals (2005-2012)
- Robban Bäck - drums (2012-2013)
- Thobbe Englund - guitars, backing vocals (2012-2016)
- Primo Victoria - 2005
- Attero Dominatus - 2006
- Metalizer - 2007
- Singles: "Masters of the World"
- The Art of War - 2008
- Singles: "Cliffs of Gallipoli", "Ghost Division"
- Coat of Arms - 2010
- Singles: "Coat of Arms", "Screaming Eagles"
- Carolus Rex - 2012
- Singles: "Carolus Rex", "The Lion From the North"
- Heroes - 2014
- The Last Stand - 2016
Sabaton and their songs provide examples of:
- The Ace: "White Death".
- Ace Pilot: "Aces in Exile" (about the RAF's Polish 303 Squadron, the Czech 310 Squadron and the Canadian 401 Squadron) and "Night Witches".
- All Are Equal in Death:
When they face death they're all alike
- "A Lifetime of War"
No right or wrong
Rich or poor
No matter who they served before
Good or bad
They're all the same
Rest side-by-side now...
There is no enemy
- "Cliffs of Gallipoli" has a similar theme.
There is no victory
Only boys who lost their lives in the sand
- Altum Videtur: The chorus of "The Lion from the North" is in Latin, in keeping with its subject King Gustaf II Adolf being more commonly known by his Latinized name Gustavus Adolphus.Gustavus Adolphus
Libera et imperanote
Acerbus et ingensnote
Augusta per angustanote
- Always Chaotic Evil: Sabaton really hates the Nazis. They're the only group the band consistently paints as unambiguously villainous.
- Amazon Brigade: "Night Witches" is about the all-female Russian 588th Night Bomber Regiment, which kicked a lot of ass and raised a lot of hell for the Germans.
- America Won World War II: Averted in the songs. In addition to recognizing the importance of the Eastern Front, the band sings about many lesser-known events that didn't involve any of the major Allied powers. On the other hand, in concerts in the United States, Joakim will usually make at least one "if it weren't for you Americans, we'd all be speaking German" comment to the audience (usually before playing "Primo Victoria").
- Animal Motifs: Frequently, as many nations and/or armed forces have animals as their symbols. Most reoccurring, their songs often refer to Nazi Germany and its armed forces as "The Eagle" (one of their symbols). Other examples include (but are not limited to) the Swedish Empire's Eagle and Lion, the Chasseurs Ardennais boar, and the Brazilian Expeditionary Forces' smoking snake. "Screaming Eagles" is the unit nickname of the 101st Airborne Division.
- Army of the Ages: The cover of The Last Stand◊ shows a battle containing ancient Spartans, The Polish Winged Hussar cavalry, Samurai, and soldiers from both world wars fighting side-by-side in Castle Itter, a WWII battleground.
- Artistic License – Biology: On the cover art of Heroes the American soldier basically has to dislocate his arm to Shoryuken the Nazi soldier in that manner.
- As the Good Book Says...:
- The refrain of "Counterstrike" compares the Israeli performance in the Six Day War to the creation myth in the Book of Genesis: "Six days of fire / One day of rest"
- The bridge of "The Carolean's Prayer" quotes the first half of the Lord's Prayer in Swedish (it's left untranslated in the English version).
- Ate His Gun: The video for "To Hell and Back" shows the Shell-Shocked Veteran (strongly implied to be Audie Murphy himself) sticking the barrel of a pistol in his mouth at one point.
- Avengers, Assemble!: "Blood of Bannockburn" is a nation-wide version, talking about all the clans assembling to fight the English in Bannockburn.
- Badass Army: "The Carolean's Prayer" paints the soldiers under Charles XII as this, which is Truth in Television and the whole album has the Swedes being total badasses and winning except when they're outnumbered, which is still factual.
- Badass Baritone: Joakim is a rare example of a power metal vocalist fitting this trope.
- Badass Boast: "Carolus Rex" is this for King Charles XII of Sweden and "Poltava" is this for his Arch-Enemy, Tsar Peter the Great.Listen, excuse for a king! Trust me, this fight you can't win!
- Badass Creed: One of the final and most epic parts of "Long Live the King".For their honor!
For their glory!
For the men that fought and bled!
A soldier from Sweden remembers the dead!
- Ballad of X: "The Ballad of Bull".
- Band of Brothers:
- "Union (Slopes of St. Benedict)" is more about this than the Battle of Monte Cassino.
- "The Carolean's Prayer" paints the entire army of Charles XII as this.
- Being Good Sucks:
- Most of the heroes from the same-titled album suffered pretty terrible fates in spite of their heroism. Karel Janoušek ("Far From the Fame") and Witold Pilecki ("Inmate 4859") were both executed by communist regimes. A theme of the album is also that despite their heroism, their tales are mostly forgotten.
- The song "Hearts of Iron" from the same album covers the protection of civilians from the Red Army by the German 9th and 12th Armies. This did not end well for the 9th and 12th. However, it went much better for the 250,000 people they saved.
- Big Damn Heroes: "Winged Hussars" elaborates how the Ottomans were nearly winning the Battle of Vienna until THE WINGED HUSSARS ARRIVED, COMING DOWN THEY TURNED THE TIDE!
- Bilingual Bonus: The English and Swedish versions of Carolus Rex take very different lyrical tones. The English version is a pretty standard badass-praising Sabaton album, but the Swedish version has much more of a War Is Hell atmosphere and often calls out the Swedes themselves for various atrocities, such as executing Russian prisoners at Fraustadt in "Killing Ground"/"Ett Slag Färgat Rött".
- Blood Knight: "Soldier of 3 Armies" states Lauri Törni is "addicted to the war game!"
- Brave Scot: "Blood of Bannockburn" focuses on how the Scots defeated the English at Bannockburn.
- Cameo: Actor Peter Stormare and Polish general Waldemar Skrzypczak took part in making the video for "Uprising" respectively playing a commander of the German occupying forces and one of the Warsaw Uprising's leaders.
- The Caligula: Saddam Hussein in Reign of Terror:Merciless killing your own
A slave to power—a slave to gold. Ruinous rule in the East.
- The Cavalry: A literal example is provided by the Winged Hussar cavalry in "Winged Hussars".
- Central Theme:
- Forgotten heroism is a recurring motif in Heroes, with nearly half of the songs commenting that their titular heroes are rarely remembered. Two of the people on the album, Leslie 'Bull' Allen and Karel Janoušek, only got an English Wikipedia page after the album was released.
- The Last Stand primarily centers on tales of brave men going for a Last Stand, usually for honor.
- Church Militant:
For the grace, for the might of our lord
- The Swiss Guard for the Pope, as depicted in the song The Last Stand on the eponymous album.
For the home of the holy
For the faith, for the way of the sword
Gave their lives so boldly
For the grace, for the might of our lord
In the name of his glory
For the faith, for the way of the sword
Come and tell their story again
- "The Caroleans' Prayer" also has shades of this ("Facing death, their faith will keep the fear at bay!/Into battle, facing the fire/Lord, thy will be done/Into battle, walk in a line/See the whites in their eyes, Caroleans are marching on!/Put their live's in God's hand, for their king and their fatherland!/See the whites in their eyes, Caroleans are marching on!"), especially in the bridge, which has the Lord's Prayer in Swedish as lyrics.
- Cold Sniper: "White Death", which is about the famous Finnish sniper Simo Häyhä.
- Concept Album:
- Carolus Rex is entirely about the rise and fall of the Swedish Empire from the Thirty Years War to the Great Northern War.
- Art Of War is about Sun Tzu's The Art of War, and includes several direct quotes.
- The album Heroes is called that for a reason; ten songs, only five are about groups. The other five are about individual legendary soldiers; Witold Pilecki, Audie Murphy, Leslie 'Bull' Allen, Lauri Allan Törninote , and Karel Janoušek.
- The Last Stand is entirely about grand last stands across history, ranging from the most famous (The Battle of Thermopylae and the fabled 300 Spartans) to the most obscure (Hill 3234 about a Battle of the Soviet-Afghan war where 39 Soviets held the hill against 200 Afghans) note .
- Commie Land: "Panzerkampf", "Night Witches", and "Hill 3234".
- Cover Version: They included a cover on Metalizer and as bonus tracks on the Updated Rereleases of Primo Victoria and Attero Dominatus and on every album since Carolus Rex.
- Primo Victoria: "The Beast" by Twisted Sister
- Attero Dominatus: "Für immer" by Warlock and "Långa bollar på Bengt" by Svenne Rubins
- Metalizer: "Jawbreaker" by Judas Priest
- Carolus Rex: "Twilight of the Thunder God" by Amon Amarth, "In the Army Now" by Bolland And Bolland and Status Quo, and "Feuer Frei!" by Rammstein
- Heroes: "For Whom the Bell Tolls" by Metallica, "En hjältes väg" by Raubtier, and "Out of Control" by Battle Beast
- The Last Stand: "Camouflage" by Stan Ridgway, "All Guns Blazing" by Judas Priest, "Afraid to Shoot Strangers" by Iron Maiden, and "Burn in Hell" by Twisted Sister
- Crossover: Joakim guest-sang in van Canto's cover of Sabaton's "Primo Victoria".
- Curb-Stomp Battle:
- Some of their songs, notably "Reign of Terror" and "Wolfpack", describe one side of a battle completely wiping the floor with the other.
- "Killing Ground" is this for the Swedes towards the Russians. The next song on the album, "Poltava", reverses their positions.
- "Shiroyama" is about the bravery of the last samurai in the face of this. The Satsuma samurai are outnumbered 60:1 and armed with swords against Imperial guns—the fact that they even survive until dawn is impressive.
- Dangerous Deserter: "The Last Stand" is about the Sack of Rome in 1527, when the Holy Roman Imperial Army, angry due to not having been paid by the Empire for their service, mutinied and led a siege on Rome itself, joined by various gangs of bandits and other deserters. The song doesn't focus much on them, however, instead focusing on the 189 members of the Swiss Guard who fought to save the Pope by escorting him along a secret passage to the Castel Sant'Angelo, and especially the 147 who formed the rear guard and gave their lives in service to the Pope.There's a foe of a thousand swords
They've been abandoned by their lords
Their fall from grace will pave their path to damnation
- Dark Reprise: While the lyrics certainly do not reflect it, "Ruina Imperii" is this to "Lion From The North", both when you notice that the chorus of the first is more or less a very downtrodden version of the other, and that while "Lion From The North" covers the rise of the Swedish empire, "Ruina Imperii" covers its fall.
- Darker and Edgier: Attero Dominatus, compared to albums before and after. The title track is about the Soviet sack of Berlin, and it also has songs about terrorism, the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the rise of Nazi Germany, and trench warfare in World War I. This is capped off with track five, "We Burn", a song about the Srebrenica massacre sung by the perpetrators.
- “Inmate 4859” is noticeably darker than the rest of the album Heroes.
- Dawn of an Era: "Lion From The North" is about the beginnings of the Swedish Empire under Gustavus II Adolphus. It's very hopeful and energetic.
- Death from Above:
- "Nuclear Attack", "Night Witches", and "Firestorm", the last of which even drops the trope name:Burn! Burn!
Rage of the heavens,
Death from above,
Death from above.
- "Into the Fire" has this:From above the airstrike came and it burned the world below
Napalm falling from the sky and it leaves no man alive!
- "Nuclear Attack", "Night Witches", and "Firestorm", the last of which even drops the trope name:
- Death Is Dramatic: One of their few non-history based songs, "The Hammer Has Fallen", is told from the perspective of a man Dying Alone.Here I am standing, darkness all around
Thinking of past, taking my last breath, the air is cold as ice
No one close to hear my voice
Did not leave me with a choice
Heaven will you wait for me?
- Defensive Feint Trap: The song "The Art of War" describes this tactic.I will run, they will hunt me in vain,
I will hide, they’ll be searching,
I’ll regroup, feign retreat, they’ll pursue,
Coup de grace, I will win but never fight,
That's the Art of War!
They will find me no more, I'll be gone,
I will have them surrounded,
They will yield without fight, overrun,
Coup de grace, I will win but never fight,
That's the Art of War!
- Digital Piracy Is Evil: Spoofed in "A Secret" from The Art of War, which always plays no matter how the album was acquired, its format, or where it is being played.
- The Dog Bites Back: "Panzerkampf" is about the Soviets managing to turn the tide in the Eastern front to their favor against the Nazis and "Attero Dominatus" is about them finally taking the enemy in Berlin that caused them so much harm.
- The Dreaded: By the way the chorus refers to them, the Night Witches seem to be incredibly feared.
- Dying Alone: "The Hammer has Fallen"
- Eagle Squadron:
- "Aces in Exile" deals with the Battle of Britain, but doesn't mention the Trope Namer, instead focusing on the Polish 303 Squadron, the Czech 310 Squadron, and the Canadian 401 Squadron).
- Lauri Törni left Finland to go to Germany and then the US to continue fighting the Russians, as recorded in "Soldier of 3 Armies".
- Early Installment Weirdness:
- Combined with Later Installment Weirdness by way of Executive Meddling is the reason Metalizer sounds so off compared to the rest. Originally recorded as their debut album, Underground Symphony decided to shelf it until the rights were released to Black Lodge 3 years later. After some minor remastering, it was released in 2007, 5 years after it was recorded.
- "Birds of War" seems to be an entirely typical Power Metal fantasy song about evil forces descending from the sky, with none of the historical lyrics that made Sabaton famous. Furthermore, Joakin Brodén sounds much deeper and more gravelly in this song.
- The Empire: The Holy Roman Empire and Russia all throughout Carolus Rex.
- Enemy Mine: "The Last Battle". What happens when sixteen American soldiers, thirteen Wehrmacht soldiers, a Waffen SS Hauptsturmführer, French former prisoners, a tank, and an Austrian Resistance member hole up in a castle against the 17th Waffen-SS Panzer Grenadier Division? The strangest battle of World War II.
- Ennio Morricone Pastiche: The whistles from “To Hell And Back”. This is especially clear in the intro and the bridge.
- End of an Age:
- The general theme of "Long Live the King" and "Ruina Imperii" about the fall of the Swedish Empire.
- "Shiroyama" combines this with Last Stand to cover the fall of the samurai and the end of Japanese feudalism.
- The trio of songs about the end of Nazi Germany allude to this: "Attero Dominatus", "Hearts of Iron", and "The Last Battle".
- Everything's Better with Samurai: "Shiroyama" in The Last Stand tells of the last battle of the samurai in the Satsuma Rebellion, and it is all the more awesome for it.Bushido, dignified!
It's the last stand of the samurai!
- Everything Is an Instrument: In "The Lost Battalion", what sounds like drums is actually artillery fire set to the beat. Pistol gunfire and the sound of a bayonet piercing flesh are also used to add to the music's rhythm.
- Everything's Louder with Bagpipes: Bagpipes not only feature in the instrumentals of "Blood of Bannockburn", a part of the main chorus is about how bagpipes are awesome.
- Fallen Hero: Five of them in "Birds of War."
- Fashionable Asymmetry: Only one of Joakim's arms is tattooed, and he often wears a small band on one of his wrists.
- A Father to His Men:
- King Charles XII is painted this way in some of the later songs in Carolus Rex.
- Also mentioned in the Sun Tzu quote in "Union (Slopes of St. Benedict)"."Regard your soldiers as your children, and they will follow you into the deepest valleys. Look on them as your own beloved sons, and they will stand by you even unto death."
- Five-Man Band:
- Four-Star Badass: "Far from the Fame" is about Karel Janoušek, who was made Air Marshall.
- Friend to All Children: Joakim Brodén will often call a young fan up on stage during concerts and give them his iconic sunglasses.
- Guardian Angel: At the end of "Camouflage", the titular character is revealed to be this, in a manner.
- While "Ghost Division" is named after the actual nickname of the 7th Panzer Division, the lyrics of the song give the division a supernatural edge by portraying them as a division of both live and undead soldiers fed by the fear the Nazis generate.
- Inverted by "Night Witches", which portrays a Soviet bomber regiment nicknamed the "Night Witches" as actually having supernatural powers ("From the depths of Hell in silence/Cast their spells, explosive violence")
- A God Am I: "Carolus Rex" (the song) stops just short in talking about King Charles XII's belief in the divine right of kings, portraying him as a borderline megalomaniac convinced his power comes directly from God."I WAS CHOSEN BY HEAVEN! SAY MY NAME WHEN YOU PRAY!"
- Gondor Calls for Aid: "Aces in Exile" is about the air forces of various nations who fought in the Battle of Britain.
- Götterdämmerung: In the band's cover of Amon Amarth's "Twilight of the Thunder God".
- Gratuitous Foreign Language:
- "Attero Dominatus" uses four words in Latin. "Attero Dominatus" is supposed to mean "Destroy Tyranny", while "denique interimo" means "finally crushed" (but the grammar is a bit off).
- "Uprising" has one sentence in Polish - "Warszawo, walcz!" which means "Warsaw, fight!" (commanding the city to fight - which it did.)
- They constantly use German throughout most WW2 themed songs, although mostly basic terms everyone knows like "Panzer" (using the entire word "Panzerkampfwagen" in "Screaming Eagles"), and proper nouns like "Wehrmacht" (there is a whole track entitled "Wehrmacht" on the Coat of Arms album. No prizes for guessing what it's about). In "The Rise of Evil", which themes Hitler's uprising to power and the development of Nazi Germany, they use words like 'Anschluss' (the annexation of Austria), and 'Lebensraum' (the initial, official motivation for the war). There is also a cover song of Warlock's "Für Immer", which apart from a part of the chorus that's in English and Spanish, is entirely in German.
- "Gott Mit Uns": It's German for "God With Us", and was used a lot in the Thirty Years War, including as something of a battle cry by the Swedes under Gustavus Adolphus. Even in the English version, this line stays in its original language.
- Carolus Rex in general has a lot of this, with song titles like "Gott Mit Uns" and Ruina Imperii and whole lines in some songs being in Old Swedish. Plus, there is a Swedish version of the whole album. "Ruina Imperii" is the only song on the album that doesn't have an English version, not counting bonus tracks. The "chanting" in "The Carolean's Prayer" is the Lord's Prayer in Swedish (and is left untranslated in the English version). Bonus point for "Ruina Imperii" is titled in Latin/Russian.
- "Resist and Bite" features "Gloria fortis miles" which means "Glory to the brave soldier" and "Adversor et admorsus" which means "Resist and Bite".
- In "Smoking Snakes", there's one line sung in Portuguese: "Cobras fumantes eterna é sua vitória!" ("Smoking Snakes, eternal is your victory!"). In fact, throughout the song, they're always refered as "Cobras Fumantes" (Portuguese for Smoking Snakes).
- "Hearts of Iron" has a line that goes Nicht ein Schlacht, ein Rettungsaktion, meaning "It's not a battle, it's a rescue operation''.
- And they covered Rammstein's "Feuer Frei" in German.
- "Talvisota": Finnish for Winter War.The slice of a knife to the throat
Their blood turns to ice
- Inverted with "Hill 3234", which refers to the Afghan mujahideen by one possible English translation of the term: "those who fight".
- The Greatest Story Never Told:
When the war has been won,
- "A Light in the Black".
And the march home begins,
What awaits has not yet been revealed,
What was won? What was lost?
Will our deeds be remembered?
Are they written in stone or in sand?
Killed by his own, or by his foes, turned the tide.
- The lyrics of "Long Live The King" acknowledge the mystery surrounding the death of King Charles XII, and that he had enemies among his own forces as well as the opposing armies.
300 years, still no one knows, the secret remains.
- Harsh Vocals: Joakim Brodén's singing voice is notably deeper-pitched and gruffer than many Power Metal vocalists, but he usually doesn't dip into hoarse Death Metal territory. One notable exception is the cover of Amon Amarth's "Twilight of the Thunder God", where he sings the entire bridge like this (shifting into a Metal Scream for the last line).
- Heavy Meta:
- "Metal Crue" has lyrics composed almost entirely of metal band names.
- "Metal Machine" has lyrics almost entirely composed of the titles of other metal songs
- "Metal Ripper" borrows many lyrics from other metal songs.
- "Men of War" is a tribute to Manowar.
- "7734" is an abridged retelling of the rise and decline of the metal genre, and also pokes fun at the stereotype of hidden Satanic messages in metal songs.
- Heavy Mithril:
- "Shadows" is about Nazgul.
- "Birds of War" is about five paladins fallen to darkness and scourging a world they once protected.
- Hold the Line:
- "40:1", where a unit of 400-700 Polish Army troops held the village of Wizima against a German army outnumbering them forty to one for three days (at which point they ran out of ammunition and German engineers had finally begun to penetrate their bunkers).
- "Resist and Bite", about a 40-man Belgian unit that held the border against the Germans for 18 days before being captured. The song references the Germans' astonishment that so few had held them off for so long across such a large area.
- The other Central Theme of The Last Stand, with most of the legendary last stands also being a case of this.
- Horrible History Metal: They live by this trope. Most of their songs are about historical events. Most of the content in their songs tends to be very accurate, even about the obscure stories.
- Horny Vikings: "Swedish Pagans". Their cover of "Twilight of the Thunder God" might count too.
- "I Am" Song: The song "Carolus Rex" is this for the titular king.
- Iconic Outfit: Joakim's mirrored glasses, armored jacket and camouflage pants. The glasses, in specific, are often given away in shows.
- I'm Cold... So Cold...: "The Hammer Has Fallen"
- Immune to Bullets: In "Camouflage", the titular character has bullets pass right through him. It's because he's a Ghost Marine.
- "Join the Army", They Said: They made a cover of "In The Army Now" by Status Quo.
- The Juggernaut: "Ghost Division"They are the panzer elite,
Born to compete,
Never retreat. (Ghost Division)
Living or dead,
Fed by your dread.
- The Kingdom: Sweden in the album Carolus Rex.
- La Résistance:
From the underground,
- "Uprising" is a song about the Warsaw Uprising, praising Polish resistance.
rose a hope of freedom as a whisper.
City in despair, but they never lost their faith.
Women, men and children fight,
they were dying side by side.
And the blood they shed upon the streets,
was a sacrifice willingly paid.
- "Coat Of Arms" paints the whole Greek nation as this. Considering how tough the Greeks resisted the Axis in real life, this isn't far off.
- "Saboteurs" is about the Norwegian resistance fighters sent to destroy the Telemark heavy-water plant.
- "Inmate 4859" is about Witold Pilecki, soldier of Polish Armia Krajowa resistance, prisoner (No. 4859) in Auschwitz-Birkenau Camp, leader and hero of resistance in Auschwitz-Birkenau Camp.
- Large Ham: Joakim Brodén is a Metal vocalist, after all.
- Last Stand:
- ''Hearts of Iron" is about the German forces of the 12th and 9th Armies, who facing defeat at the hands of the Soviets, created a corridor across the Elbe to protect fleeing refugees and soldiers to escape and surrender to the West rather than face certain death.
- In the same album, "Smoking Snakes" talks about three Brazilian soldiersnote who, ambushed by Germans, fought until their ammo ran out and died in a bayonet charge.
- The Last Stand is the name and central theme of their eighth album.
- The first three singles released were "The Lost Battalion", "Blood of Bannockburn" and "Shiroyama". "The Lost Battalion" is about the titular battalion fighting for a week with no reinforcements in World War I; "Blood of Bannockburn" is about the Battle of Bannockburn, where the Scots managed to hold off (and win) against the numerically superior English forces; "Shiroyama" is about the Battle of Shiroyama, where 350-500 samurai were outnumbered 60 to 1 against the Imperial Japanese army.
- The opening track, "Sparta", is about the Battle of Thermopylae, where 300 Spartans led other Greek soldiers in a successful holding action against a vastly larger Persian army. They all died, but they achieved their objective.
- "The Last Battle" is about the Battle of Castle Itter, where a combination of troops from the United States, Germany, an SS Defector, and several prisoners of war stood against the Waffen SS until a larger American force relieved them.
- "Last Dying Breath" is about the doomed defense of Belgrade by the Serbian Army against Austria-Hungary.
- The titular track, "The Last Stand", is about the Stand of the Swiss Guard, where 189 Swiss Guardsmen fought to allow the Pope to escape The Sack of Rome.
- "Winged Hussars" is a subversion. The Siege of Vienna is looking like this... AND THEN THE WINGED HUSSARS ARRIVED! Ditto "Hill 3234" and "Rorke's Drift", both of which were cases where the underdogs won.
- Lead Bassist: Sundström is a recent Type B, starting from 2012. Also Type C for being one of the founding members alongside Joakim.
- Let's Fight Like Gentlemen: "No Bullets Fly", which is about the Charlie Brown and Franz Stigler incident, in which a heavily damaged B-17 stumbled upon an enemy. However, the enemy in question (Franz Stigler) saw that the plane was too damaged to fight, and promptly not only didn't fire but led the bomber to safety. Quote the chorus:Fly, fighting fair!
It's the code, of the air!
Brothers, Heroes, Foes
- Lyrical Dissonance:
- "The Final Solution". An awesome metal song... about the horrors of the Holocaust, specifically Auschwitz. The band stopped playing that song live until their 2017 tour because they found it unsettling to see the audience cheer and headbang along.
- "The Price of a Mile", also a catchy, badass, upbeat song about the soldiers dying pointless deaths at Passchendaele.
- "Nuclear Attack" just like the two above, a catchy and more upbeat song about the dropping of the two atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
- "We Burn" — catchy, badass song about the Srebrenica massacre.
- "Long Live The King" is a glorious, epic ballad about the death of the Swedish Empire and the titular King Charles XII, as his soldiers do everything to bring his body back to Sweden.
- "In The Army Now" is a badass ballad about a poor sod who gets suckered into joining the military, and it is nothing like what he expected.
- Zig-zagged by "To Hell And Back": On the one hand, it's a badass, uplifting song that describes the horrors in WW2 faced by Audie Murphy and even describes his struggles with PTSD in the bridge ("And all along the shore/Where cannons still roar/They're haunting my dreams/They're still there when I sleep"). On the other hand, the badass, uplifting tone fits perfectly with how the lyrics describe Murphy's triumphs and eventual recovery ("He charged and attacked/He went to Hell and back!"). So whether or not the lyrics fit the music depends on what part of the song you're looking at.
- "Killing Ground" is a blood-pumping song about the Caroleans slaughtering surrendering enemy soldiers at the battle of Fraustadt.
- Attero Dominatus is a song about the Soviet sack of Berlin. Despite this, it's a catchy song with a big sing-along chorus.
- Lyrics/Video Mismatch : The music video for The Lost Battalion shows scenes of World War II combat... in a song explicitly about World War I.
- Man Bites Man: "Resist and Bite", which is about the Chasseurs Ardennais during World War II.
- Meaningful Name: A sabaton is an armoured shoe, as a part of knightly armor, which is appropriate for a band that sings about military history.
- Milking the Giant Cow: Joakim Brodén is an utter master of this in live performances and music videos, "Uprising", for example.
- Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: On average, around a 7 to borderline 8.
- Mood Whiplash:
- The album Carolus Rex goes through this at two points. The first, when after the triumphant and blood-pumping "Gott Mit Uns" we go into the Tear Jerker ballad "A Lifetime of War". The second when after the hopeful tone of "The Carolean's Prayer", the triumphal Motive Rant "Carolus Rex", and the fast blood-pumper "Killing Ground", we get the fast-paced yet noticeably down-turn "Poltava", followed by "Long Live the King" and "Ruina Imperii" - mournful cries about the death of Swedish glory.
- Heroes has another example with the rather abrupt switch from the blood-pumping "Smoking Snakes" to the operatic, grim tale of Witold Pilecki in "Inmate 4859". "Inmate 4859" is then followed by the badass, energetic "To Hell And Back".
- Mother Russia Makes You Strong: "Panzerkampf", "Night Witches" and "Hill 3234".
- Noble Bird of Prey: The eagle is frequently used to symbolize Nazi Germany (for example, “The wings of the eagle's been broken” from “Attero Dominatus” and “The boar against the eagle” from “Resist and Bite”).
- The backing lyrics in the final chorus of “Inmate 4859” contain the phrase “White eagle”, referring to the white eagle of Poland.
- Non-Appearing Title: "Long Live the King", "The Carolean's Prayer", "Hill 3234", "Carolus Rex", "Panzerkampf", "The Last Battle", “The Lost Battalion”, and "The Last Stand".
- Mysterious Protector: The titular character in "Camouflage", who saves a young marine in Vietnam. Despite having had died the night before the song happened with his last wish being "to save a young marine".
- Nuke 'em: "Nuclear Attack", about the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
- Number of the Beast: Played for Laughs by "A Secret" which contains a part that says that it has detected an illegal download and is executing spyware protocol 666. Note that 666 is spelled out at "Six hundred sixty-six."
- Obligatory War-Crime Scene:
- "We Burn" is a Villain Song about the Srebrenica massacre. 'Nuff said.
- "Killing Ground" shows the Swedes, who in the album Carolus Rex are usually portrayed as The Kingdom's Badass Army, slaughtering surrendering soldiers ("Killing ground/Even though you surrender/Turn around/You will never survive/Killing ground/As the battle of Fraustadt turns").
- Ominous Music Box Tune: "Inmate 4859" starts off with one.
- Ominous Pipe Organ:
- Played straight by "Wehrmacht", "Birds of War", and "Rise of Evil".
- Inverted in "The Caroleans' Prayer", where the pipe organ is inspiring, not sinister.
- One-Man Army: "White Death" about Simo Häyhä.
- Out-of-Genre Experience: "The Ballad of Bull" is a straight-up Power Ballad.
- Patriotic Fervor: The band is very proud, frequently to the point of comedy, of their Swedish heritage. One of the bonus tracks on the Updated Re-release of The Art of War is the band and audience singing the Swedish national anthem at the Sweden Rock Festival.
- Polyglot: Like most Swedes, Joakim speaks English quite well (barring the odd singular/plural mismatch on the earlier songs), and can also sing in German. The concert on the deluxe version of Heroes has an amusing segment between songs where he starts teaching bits of Polish to the Swedish members of the audience and vice versa, and another bit where he actually forgets to switch back from English to Swedish when giving a prize to a Swede.
- P.O.V. Sequel: An interesting variation happens in Heroes. Their second album's title track, "Attero Dominatus", is about the fall of Berlin, told from the perspective of the advancing Red Army. Heroes contains the song "Hearts of Iron" which is about the same event, but from the perspective of the German troops trying to protect civilians.
- Power Ballad: "The Ballad of Bull", which is remarkably slow and barely features guitars in it.
- Pre Ass Kicking One Liner: In live shows, before performing "Smoking Snakes", they will shout "A Cobra Vai Fumar!" ("The Snake will Smoke!", battle cry of the actual Smoking Snakes).
- Punch-Clock Villain: "Wehrmacht" explores whether or not they were "crazy madmen on a leash or young men who lost their way." The speaker seems to come to the conclusion that it was a little of both.
- Punished for Sympathy: "No Bullets Fly" comments that Luftwaffe pilot Franz Stigler "risked his life two times that day / To save an unknown enemy". Stigler faced a possible death sentence for helping the B-17 to safetynote , and so left it out of his official report.
- The Quisling: A great deal of scorn is reserved towards Ephialtes of Trachia (the man who betrayed the Spartans to the Persians) in "Sparta".By traitor's hand, secret passage, to their land
Know his name, know his shame will last forever
- Rape, Pillage, and Burn:
- "1648", particularly in the Swedish version.
- "Attero Dominatus" too, especially if you know what the Soviets did to Berlin... note
- The chorus of "We Burn" has this almost word-for-word: "We burn, pillage, and rape."
- Rated M for Manly: 90% of their songs are about war and conflict, after all.
- The album cover for Heroes shows an American soldier punching a Nazi soldier in the face so hard that the latter is sent flying.
- Recruiters Always Lie: In "In The Army Now" (Cover Version of a song by Status Quo), the recruiter says that Army doesn't do much except stay in bed, and that the recruit will be a hero to the neighborhood. Nothing like it happens: he's thrust into a war and nobody really cares about him.
- Religion Rant Song:
- Subverted with "Burn Your Crosses". If you hear it without context, you would think it's just a rant on the evils of Christianity. But Joakim Brodén has emphatically stated the song is, like all other Sabaton songs, a narrative: It's about a man about to be executed by the Spanish Inquisition who decides to go out in a blaze of glory, and the song is his speech.
- Downplayed with "In the Name of God", which is a "Villain Sucks" Song about religiously motivated terrorism.
- Rightful King Returns: "Hail to the King".
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: "Aces in Exile" depicts this by the Polish and Czech pilots.Even at night shadows cover the ground
Fighting goes on from dusk till dawn
With the claw of the Reich with the claw of the eagle
They were ready to fight, they were ready to die
Up in the air, the battle goes on
They have proven their worth, they have their revenge
- Rock Beats Laser:
It's the nature of time, that the old ways must give in.
- Both played straight and subverted. In the beginning of "Rorke's Drift" the song summarizes how the Zulus destroyed the British forces at the legendary Battle of Isandlwana, but the song in general is about "laser" (The British Empire) holding "rock" (The Zulu) against all odds at the Battle of Rorke's Drift, where about 141 British soldiers held off around five-thousand Zulus. And won.
- Defied in "Shiroyama".
- Royals Who Actually Do Something:
- Carolus Rex:
- "Sparta" is about King Leonidas leading the Spartans at Thermopylae.
- Say My Name:
- Inverted by "Inmate 4859", which deliberately avoids saying Witold Pilecki's name.
- "Far from the Fame": "Far, far away from the fame / But we still remember your name / (shouted) Karel Janoušek!"
- Say Your Prayers: Subverted in "The Caroleans' Prayer". The bridge is The Lord's Prayer in Swedish, but it's triumphant instead of resigned.
- Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: A running theme in Sabaton songs. "Hearts of Iron", for example, has Germans deciding to ignore their orders to save civilians.
- Screw Your Ultimatum!: The third verse (and opening splash of the music video) of "Screaming Eagles" recounts how the commander of the 101st Airborne, defending Bastogne at the Battle of the Bulge, responded to a German surrender demand as follows: "NUTS!"
- Semper Fi: Their cover of "Camouflage" is about a pair of Marines, title drops this trope in the lyrics, and the eponymous Camouflage takes it seriously enough that he plays Mysterious Protector to the song's protagonist despite having died the night before.
- Shell-Shocked Veteran: Mentioned in "To Hell and Back" and shown in full extent in the song's music video, which focuses on a PTSD-ridden war vet (implied to be Audie Murphy himself) clashing with the memories of the horror of war. Truth in Television, as Audie Murphy had severe PTSD and helped to raise awareness for the disease.
AA guns are blazing
- "Sparta" has quite a few to 300, including the Spartan's "OOH AAH!" chant.
- "The Last Battle" has "From the home of the brave, from the land of the free", a reference to the final line of the American national anthem.
- "Firestorm" has a small reference to another metal band:
As the sky is turning red
Better run for cover
You'll be quick or be dead
- Shown Their Work: Besides the accuracy (and sheer obscurity) of their songs (such as "Far from the Fame"'s Karel Janoušek, who didn't have an English Wikipedia page before the single came out), there's a particular example in "To Hell and Back": The song's chorus and a whole verse are lifted almost entirely from one of Murphy's poems.
- Singing Voice Dissonance: Joakim has a speaking voice which is pretty much the posterchild for "Swedish male, mid-thirties, working class background", with a slight Dalecarlian accent. Interview in English Interview in Swedish. His singing voice, on the other hand...
- Something Completely Different: Enforced with Metalizer, which features no war songs at all. The album was actually recorded in '02 to be Sabaton's first full-length studio album, but Underground Symphony, their label at the time, sent it into Development Hell for years before finally selling the rights to the band's second label Black Lodge. By that point Sabaton had firmly adopted the military history theme with Primo Victoria and Attero Dominatus.
- Something Else Also Rises:
- The refrain of "Metal Machine" (otherwise a Song of Song Titles celebrating metal) has Joakim variously remarking "Come hold/touch/suck my metal machine".
- Inverted with "The Rise of Evil". The song is ostensibly about the rise of Nazi Germany, but Brodén has been known to introduce it at concerts by saying it's about his penis. (This can be heard in Swedish on a bonus track of the Primo Victoria reissue.)
- Snow Means Death: Multiple examples.
- "Ruina Imperii", covering the Carolean Death March and the fall of the Swedish empire.
- "White Death": the Finnish sniper Simo Häyhä in the Winter War.
- "Talvisota", literally the Winter War; fought during one of the century's coldest winters, use of snow camouflage by Finnish ski troops, resulted in defeat of superior numbers of Soviet troops unprepared for winter conditions.
- The Southpaw: Hannes plays a left-handed drumkit.
- Song of Song Titles:
- "Metal Machine" is so full of Shout-Outs to other bands' lyrics that it'd probably be quicker to watch this video showing what and where they are in the song than to read a full list of them. "Metal Crue" does the same thing with the names of metal bands, while "Metal Ripper" uses song titles.
- Heroes features "Man Of War", fittingly for a giant tribute to Manowar, has lyrics entirely composed by names of Manowar songs.
- Start My Own: Most of the original six-piece band left to form the Horrible History Metal band Civil War in 2012 due to burnout from Sabaton's intense touring schedule (to give you an idea, for the Heroes tour they did 150 shows on several continents in six months, and even Joakim admitted it was "fucking hard"). They're still friends, though Joakim admits things were tense for a little while.
- Subliminal Seduction: Parodied in "7734" with numerology and backwards lyrics so obvious a child could get them. For one, 7734 itself - type it on a calculator and hold the calculator upside down, you get "hELL". Then there's this: "the last two united and two became one" (3+4=7, so 777) "one hundred eleven / they perished in flame" (777-111=666), and also the line "Do Glatem Live", which backwards is "Evil Metal God."
- Sympathetic P.O.V.: "Hearts of Iron" shows a more sympathetic side of Nazi Germany: The civilians and Punch-Clock Villain soldiers present, trying to flee from the horrors of war, while other Wehrmacht soldiers hold open the escape corridor and coordinate the evacuation of Berlin.
- Tank Goodness: The band has a mad, passionate love affair with German panzers in particular, including "Ghost Division" and "Panzerkampf" from The Art of War, the latter of which covers the Battle of Kursk, one of the biggest armor confrontations in history. "Panzer Battalion" sounds like another one but is actually about the 2003 invasion of Iraq, focusing on American M1 Abrams tanks.
- Title Drop: Aside from Metalizer, every song that shares a title with their albums has one. Multiple other songs too.
- Trapped Behind Enemy Lines
- "Screaming Eagles" from the Coat of Arms album is about the 101st Airborne and 10th Armored Divisions' defence of besieged Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge.
- "The Lost Battalion" from The Last Stand is about the "Lost Battalion", nine companies of the United States 77th Division, roughly 554 men, isolated by German forces during World War I after an American attack in the Argonne Forest in October 1918.
- Unfriendly Fire: "Long Live the King" mentions the mystery of the death of King Charles XII at the Siege of Fredriksten: two of three investigations into his death suggested he was murdered by his own men, while the other concluded he was hit by an enemy sharpshooter.Killed by his own or by his foes, turned the tide
300 years, still no one knows, the secret remains
- Ungrateful Bastard: "Inmate 4859"'s last verse calls out the Warsaw Pact government of Poland for its execution of Witold Pilecki (the eponymous inmate) in 1948 (due to his loyalty to the London-based Government in Exile).
- Updated Re Release:
- Primo Victoria: Re-Armed, Attero Dominatus: Re-Armed, Metalizer: Re-Armed, The Art of War: Re-Armed. Yes, their first FOUR albums were re-released with cleaner vocals and music.
- In another case, "7734" from their 2007 album Metalizer is a bonus track on Heroes. It is viewed by many fans as thousands of times better than the original version.
- Villain Song:
Listen, excuse for a king. Trust me, this fight you can't win
- More like "Antagonist Song", as the album doesn't paint them as villains: Carolus Rex is mostly told from the perspective of the Swedish Empire and its kings, with a notable exception in "Poltava", whose bridges are sung from the perspective of the Russian troops and their Tsar gloating about how they trounced the Swedish Troops at Poltava.
Listen, obey my command. Hear me, or die by my hand
Madness, curse your feeble horde. Fear me, you'll die by my sword
We burn, plunder and rape
- "Shadows" is also one for the Ringwraiths.
- "Birds of War" is definitely not about good guys.
- "We Burn" is sung from the viewpoint of the perpetrators of the Yugoslavian genocide, and in first person to boot. Overlaps with "The Villain Sucks" Song, as the singer's Card-Carrying Villain attitude drives home how vile their actions were.
Show them no mercy, just burn
- "The Villain Sucks" Song:
- "In The Name of God" is one big "The Reason You Suck" Speech to terrorists. Or religious fanatics in general.
- "We Burn", regarding the Yugoslavian genocide, although it's written in first person from the villain`s side.
- "Reign of Terror" is about Saddam Hussein and his regime.
- The English version of "A Lifetime of War" is about how both sides of the Thirty Years War only used the lives of their soldiers for their own gain.By Kings and Queens young men are sent to die in war.
Their propaganda speaks, their words been heard before...
- Villain Protagonist:
- "Birds of War"
- The Swedes are this in the Swedish version of "1648".
- Vocal Evolution:
- If you hear the early albums, Joakim has a much harsher and unpolished (in his own words, a bit amateurish) voice, different from his current more deep, thundering voice.
- Compare "7734" from Metalizer and Heroes. It's still noticeable even with Joakim's more polished voice from the more recent albums.
- Wardrobe Malfunction: Joakim's pants will shred at the crotch area at some point in the show, the question isn't if, it's when. At this point it's practically a Running Gag.
- The War on Terror:
- Tragic Villain:
- This pretty much sums up the depiction of the Nazis in Sabaton's songs. Starting from "Rise Of Evil" to "The Final Solution" to "Hearts of Iron", the soldiers of the Third Reich are ultimately shown as men attempting to bring back their country to glory despite committing atrocities all for a delusional vision that brought Germany to flames in the end.
- The above is pretty much put in song form in "Wehrmacht".
- War Is Glorious:
- War Is Hell:
Six miles of ground have been won
- "Angels Calling" is about a soldier serving in the trenches in an unspecified battle during World War One who dies in one of the many charges against the enemy trench lines.
- "The Price of a Mile" laments the tragic loss of half a million men to gain six miles of land in the Battle of Passchendaele.
Half a million men are gone
And as the men crawled, the general called
And the killing carried on
What was the purpose of it all?
What's the price of a mile?
Bright, a white light, if there'd be any glory in war
- "Cliffs of Gallipoli" is a memorial to the soldiers who died in the Gallipoli Campaign, wherein a quarter million members of the ANZAC Corps died on the Ottoman soil trying to open a sea lane to the Russians, and a similar number of Turks also died fighting them off.
- "A Lifetime Of War" provides two different perspectives on the Thirty Years' War. The English lyrics focus on the horror of the war as a whole and the ambitions of the people behind it, while the Swedish lyrics show it all from the eyes of a common Swedish soldier who leaves his friends and family behind to serve his nation with no guarantee that he will ever return alive, or if he will be remembered and mourned.
- "To Hell and Back" combines War Is Hell with War Is Glorious.
Let it rest, on men like him, who went to hell and came back
- The War on Terror: "Panzer Battalion" is about the American invasion of Iraq. "In the Name of God" is a Take That! to religiously motivated terrorism.
- Warrior Prince: King Charles XII of Sweden, as per real life.
- Was It Really Worth It?: The point of "The Price of a Mile", about the inconclusive Passchendaele campaign where half a million men died to for no meaningful gains.
- What the Hell, Hero?:
- "Uprising" calls out the Allies for twice abandoning the Poles to the Nazis.First verse: Do you remember when
When the Nazis forced their rule on Poland?
And the Allies turned away!Chorus: Warsaw, city at war
Voices from Underground, whispers of freedom
Help that never came!Second verse: Spirit, soul and heart
In accordance with the old traditions
Still the allies turn away!
- "Ett Slag Färgat Rött" (the Swedish version of "Killing Ground") calls out the Caroleans for slaughtering Russian prisoners-of-war at Fraustadt. (The English version alludes to it in the chorus, but the Swedish lyrics devote the entire bridge stanza to it.)
- "Uprising" calls out the Allies for twice abandoning the Poles to the Nazis.
- Worthy Opponent: "Smoking Snakes" retells the story of three Brazilian heroes, Arlindo Lúcio da Silva, Geraldo Baeta da Cruz and Geraldo Rodrigues de Souza, who fought to their last against the German troops. The Wehrmacht was so impressed it buried them with full honors and wrote in their graves Drei brasilianische Helden (Three Brazilian Heroes).
- You Are in Command Now: "Into the Fire" makes reference to this in a narrative about the general unpleasantness of jungle warfare in Vietnam.Sarge is down, I'm in charge, VCs everywhere!
- You Are Number 6: "Inmate 4859", a Polish soldierreal name who infiltrated Auschwitz to command an uprising from within and tell the world of the horrors going on there.
- You Shall Not Pass:
No army may enter that land
- "40:1", the story of the Battle of Wizima in 1939, where 400-700 entrenched Polish troops held off a German army roughly forty times their numbers for three days (by which point they had run out of ammunition and German sappers had started to make progress in breaching their bunkers). The song compares them to King Leonidas's Last Stand at Thermopylae.
That is protected by Polish hand
Baptized in fire, forty to one
Spirit of Spartans, death and glory
Soldiers of Poland, second to none
Wrath of the Wehrmacht brought to a halt
- "Coat of Arms" from the album of same name again makes a Thermopylae comparison, this time to the Greco-Italian War where the Greeks repeatedly trashed Mussolini's army until the Wehrmacht intervened.
We were told to hold the border, and that is what we did!
- "Resist and Bite", about the Chasseurs Ardennais who defended the Belgium border from the German blitzkrieg. Quoth the song:
Honored our orders in despite of our foes!
- "Hearts of Iron" combines this with Last Stand. It's about the German 12th and 9th Armies, who against the Soviets, created a corridor across the Elbe to protect fleeing refugees and soldiers to escape and surrender to the West rather than face certain death.
- The Last Stand
- "Sparta" is about the Battle of Thermopylae (the real one this time).
- "The Last Stand" is about the Swiss Guards' defense of St. Peters and Pope Clement VII during the sack of Rome in 1527. Most of them died but they succeeded in holding off the attackers long enough for Clement to escape to safety.