Music / Sabaton

Badass men. Badass music.

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.

Current line up:
  • Joakim Brodén – vocals
  • Pär Sundström – bass
  • Chris Rörland — guitar
  • Thobbe Englund - guitar
  • Hannes Van Dahl - drums

Former members:
  • Rikard Sundén – guitar (1999-2012)
  • Oskar Montelius – guitar (1999-2012)
  • Richard Larsson — drums (1999-2001)
  • Daniel Mullback – drums (2001-2012)
  • Daniel Mÿhr – keyboards (2005-2012)
  • Robban Bäck — drums (2012-2013)

  • Primo Victoria – 2005
  • Attero Dominatus – 2006
  • Metalizer – 2007
  • The Art of War – 2008
  • Coat of Arms – 2010
  • Carolus Rex - 2012
  • Heroes - 2014

Sabaton and their songs provides examples of:

  • The Ace: White Death.
  • Ace Pilot: Aces in Exile and Night Witches.
  • 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 quotes on The Art of War.
  • A God Am I: The chorus of "Carolus Rex".
    I was chosen by Heaven / Say my name when you pray!
  • All Are Equal in Death: Lifetime of War
    When they face death they're all alike
    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...
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Attero Dominatus uses four words in Latin. “Attero Dominatus” most likely means “Destroy Tyranny”
    • And Uprising has one sentence in Polish - “Warszawo walcz!” which means “Warsaw fight!” (imperative, i.e. commanding the city to fight - which it did.)
    • They constantly use German throught most WW2 themed songs, although mostly basic terms everyone knows like "Panzer" (using the entire word "Panzerkampfwagen" in Screaming Eagles). In Rise of Evil, which themes Hitler's uprising to power and the development of Nazi Germany, they use words like 'Anschluss' (the annexing 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.
    • 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.
    • 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 Feuer Frei.
    • Talvisota: Finnish for Winter War.
  • Blood Knight: "A Soldier of 3 Armies" states Lauri Törni is "addicted to the war game!"
  • 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."
  • Central Theme: Forgotten heroism is a recurring motif in Heroes, with nearly half of the songs commenting that their titular heroes are rarely remembered. One of the people on the album, Leslie "Bull" Allen lacks an English Wikipedia page and Karel Janoušek only got an English Wikipedia page when the album was announced.
  • Cold Sniper: White Death.
  • 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.
  • Commie Land: Panzerkampf.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Some of their songs, notably Reign of Terror and Wolfpack, are about these.
    • Killing Ground is this for the Swedes towards the Russians. The next song on the album, Poltava, reverses their positions.
  • 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.
  • 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,
    Burn! Burn!
    Death from above,
    Die! Die!
    Merciless killing,
    Burn! Burn!
    Death from above.
  • 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,
    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 Dreaded: By the way the chorus refers to them, the Night Witches seem to be incredibly feared.
  • Dying Alone: The Hammer has Fallen
  • 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.
  • The Empire: The Holy Roman Empire and Russia all throughout Carolus Rex.
  • End of an Age: The general theme of Long Live The King and Ruina Imperii about the fall of the Swedish Empire.
  • Fashionable Asymmetry: Only one of Joakim's arms is tattoed, and he often wears a small band on one of his wrists.
  • Filk Song: Birds of War seems to be about Chaos Raptors, as the lyrics make little to no sense if looked at from a historical perspective.
  • 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 definitely a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming.
  • Ghostapo - 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.
  • 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."
  • The Greatest Story Never Told: A Light in the Black.
    When the war has been won,
    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?
    • 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.
    Killed by his own, or by his foes, turned the tide.
    300 years, still no one knows, the secret remains.
  • Heavy Meta: Metal Crüe, Metallizer, Metal Machine, Masters Of The World, and Metal Ripper.
    • Metal Crue really takes the cake with its lyrics being composed almost entirely of band names.
      • Metal Machine does the same with song titles, and Metal Ripper uses lyrics samples!
    • Men of War is a tribute to Manowar. It is extremely awesome.
  • Heavy Mithril: Shadows is about Nazgul.
  • 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
  • "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,
    Always ahead,
    Fed by your dread.
  • The Kingdom: Sweden in the album Carolus Rex.
  • La Résistance: Uprising is a song about the Warsaw Uprising, praising Polish resistance.
    From the underground,
    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 soldiers note  who, ambushed by Germans, fought until their ammo ran out and died in a bayonet charge.
  • 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 ship was too damaged to fight, and promptly not only didn't fire but led the ship 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 no longer plays that song live 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.
    • 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.
  • Man Bites Man: Resist and Bite, which is about the Chasseurs Ardennais during World War II.
  • Meaningful Name: "Sabaton" means an armoured shoe, as a part of knightly armour.
  • Milking the Giant Cow: Joakim Brodén is an utter master of this in live perfomances 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 thr triumphant and blood-pumping Gott Mit Uns we go into the Tear Jerker ballad A Lifetime At War. The second when after the hopeful tone of The Carolean's Prayer, Carolus Rex and Killing Ground we get the fast-paced yet noticeably down-turn Poltava culminating in 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 of Inmate 4859.
  • Mother Russia Makes You Strong: Panzerkampf.
  • Nuke 'em: Nuclear Attack, about the attacks of 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."
  • Ominous Music Box Tune: Inmate 4859 starts off with one.
  • Ominous Pipe Organ: Wehrmacht, Birds of War, Rise of Evil.
  • One-Man Army: White Death about Simo Häyhä.
  • Out-of-Genre Experience: The Ballad of Bull is a straight-up Power Ballad.
  • Perspective Flip: Most of Carolus Rex is sung from the perspective of the Swedes. However, Poltava includes some parts that are from the Russians' perspective, and the English version of 1648 is from the perspective of the Bohemians. The Swedish version of 1648 is from a Swedish perspective, which also makes the two versions Perspective Flips of each other.
    • An interesting variation happens in Heroes. Sabaton has a song named "Attero Dominatus" about the fall of Berlin, in Heroes we have "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."
  • Rape, Pillage, and Burn:
    • 1648, particularly in the Swedish version.
    • Attero Dominatus too, especially if you know what the Soviets did to Berlin... note 
  • Rated M for Manly: 90% of their songs are about war and conflict, after all.
  • Recruiters Always Lie: In "In The Army Now", 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 empathetically 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.
  • Rightful King Returns: Hail to the King.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: The main song of Carolus Rex, is about King Charles XII of Sweden and his role in The Great Northern War.
    • The Lion From The North, which is entirely about King Gustavus II Adolphus, the man who kicked basically all of Europe's ass for a few years.
  • Say Your Prayers: Subverted in The Caroleans Prayer. The chorus is The Lord's Prayer in Swedish, but it's triumphant instead of resigned.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Mentioned in "To Hell and Back" and shown in full extent in the music video for "To Hell and Back", 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.
  • 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.
  • Snow Means Death: 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.
  • Song of Song Titles: Metal Machine is so full of Shout-Outs to other bands 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.
    • That said, its somewhat fitting that a song about their love of metal also has a direct "fuck you" to Metallica's album St. Anger.
    • Heroes features Man Of War, fittingly for a giant tribute to Manowar, has lyrics entirely composed by names of Manowar songs.
  • 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: Several times, with Panzer Battalion probably the best case of Tank Porn outside of the Imperial Guard.
  • 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.
  • 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: 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 the 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, excuse for a king. Trust me, this fight you can't win
    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
    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: "In The Name Of God".
  • 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: A majority of their songs about World War II are about lionizing the heroes of various nations.
  • War Is Hell: Angels Calling, The Price of a Mile and Cliffs of Gallipoli.
    • 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.
    Bright, a white light, if there'd be any glory in war
    Let it rest, on men like him, who went to hell and came back
  • 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 no purpose.
  • 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 Six: "Inmate 4859", a polish soldier who infiltrated Auschwitz to command an uprising from within and tell the world of the horrors going on there.
  • You Shall Not Pass: "Resist and Bite", about the Chasseurs Ardennais who defended the Belgium border from the German blitzkrieg. Quoth the song:
    We were told to hold the border, and that is what we did!
    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.
    • "40:1" - the story of the Battle that became known as the Polish Thermopylae:
    Soldiers of Poland, second to none
    Wrath of the Wehrmacht brought to a halt.