Initially formed as a Traditional Heavy Metal group with frontman Joakim Brodén also playing keyboards, their first productions were a pair of EPs later released as Fist for Fight and their intended debut album Metalizer. However, these albums were sent into Development Hell by their label, Underground Symphony. In 2005, they jumped ship to Black Lodge Records and released the World War II-based 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", "A Lifetime of War"
- Heroes - 2014
- The Last Stand - 2016
- "Bismarck" (standalone single) - 2019
- The Great War - 2019
Sabaton and their songs provide examples of:
- AcCENT upon the Wrong SylLABle: "Then the Winged HusSARS arrived!" Justified: the word is actually accented on the first syllable when spoken, but the song's beat puts the emphasis on the second.
- The Ace: "White Death".
- Ace Custom: In the World of Tanks video for "Primo Victoria", Sabaton drives a post-WWII Centurion tank with the logo of the band on it while blasting an assortment of hilariously outclassed Wehrmacht tanks.
- Ace Pilot: "Aces in Exile" (about the RAF's Polish 303 Squadron, the Czech 310 Squadron and the Canadian 401 Squadron) and "Night Witches" (about the Night Witches, a squadron of Soviet bomber pilots). The Great War has a track about the Red Baron, Manfred von Richthofen.
- 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
- Always Chaotic Evil: Sabaton really hates the Nazis. They're the only group the band consistently paints as unambiguously villainous. They go out of their way not to present the Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe this way, however, showing them and the German people in more of a tragic light.
- 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 comment to the audience along the lines of "if it weren't for you Americans, we'd all be speaking German" (usually before playing "Primo Victoria").
- And Now For Something Completely Different: The soundtrack edition of The Great War album, released as The Soundtrack To The Great War takes the tracklist of that album and transforms it from their usual Power Metal style into epic orchetra pieces that are mostly instrumental but for the occasional choir (or Floor Jansen) reciting the lyrics, entirely sans any singing from Joakim.
- 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," which was one of their symbols. Other examples include the Swedish Empire's Eagle and Lion, the Chasseurs Ardennais boar, and the Brazilian Expeditionary Forces' smoking snake, the "Screaming Eagles" (the unit nickname of the 101st Airborne Division), and the "Devil Dogs" (a nickname for the US Marines earned in World War I).
- 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.
- Artistic License Military: "82nd All the Way" mistakenly says Alvin York was part of the 338th Infantry Regiment. He was part of the 328th. The band is aware of the mistake but it was too late to fix it on any version of the album; however, Joakim said the line with the correct unit number when the band played it live at Wacken 2019.
- 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).
- Ascended Fanboy: Tommy Johansson was a longtime fan of the band before he became their guitarist.
- Ascended Meme: The Sabaton History episode about "The Last Stand" opens with a joke about the "Last Stand is about the Crusades" meme.
- 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.
- Attack! Attack! Attack!: The US Marines in "Devil Dogs".Five times attacked, and then five times repelled
At the sixth time, they managed to break the line
Heart of the Corps, and a part of the lore
The deadliest weapon on earth
That's what a soldier should do
Top of their game, earning their name
They were the Devil Dogs
In a war machine
They were the USA Marines
- Audience Participation Song:
- Joakim always thrusts his mic out to the audience several times during the chorus of "Ghost Division".
- The live versions of "Uprising" and "Carolus Rex" insert an extra beat between the bridge and closing chorus to let the audience shout out respectively "War-saw!" and "I was chosen by heaven!" The audience also usually sings the closing "Warszawo, walcz!" on "Uprising".
- On the Heroes live album from the Sabaton Cruise, Joakim invites the Swedish-speaking members of the audience to sing the first half of the first verse of "En livstid i krig" all by themselves, to rebut claims he's heard that the Swedish crowds are lame.
- Avengers, Assemble!: "Blood of Bannockburn" is a nation-wide version, talking about all the clans of Scotland 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!
- Badass Native: "A Ghost in the Trenches" is about the most effective sniper of World War I, Francis Pegahmagabow, who was a member of the indigenous First Nations and fought in the Canadian military.
- Ballad of X: "The Ballad of Bull" is about Leslie "Bull" Allen, an Australian soldier who saved a dozen of his fellow Australians by carrying them to safety after they were wounded.
- 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 Janouek ("Far From the Fame") was imprisoned, and Witold Pilecki ("Inmate 4859") executed, by their countries' respective Warsaw Pact 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.
- Audie Murphy (To Hell And Back) suffered from severe Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder after being a war hero in World War II.
- Better to Die than Be Killed: "40:1" briefly references the fact that the Polish commander, Captain Władysław Raginis, committed suicide by jumping on a grenade rather than surrender to the Germans.
- 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!"
- Boom, Headshot!: One of the French soldiers in the trench in the "Fields of Verdun" video is shot between the eyes while firing over the lip of the trench.
- Brave Scot: "Blood of Bannockburn" focuses on how the Scots defeated the English at Bannockburn.
- Cadre of Foreign Bodyguards: "The Last Stand" is essentially the origin story of the Swiss Guard. At the time, they were just mercenaries hired by the Pope. Ever since, they've been the Pope's bodyguards.
- Call-and-Response Song:
- The refrain of "Midway":Rikard, Oskar, and Daniel Mÿhr: Display their might, ordering carriers, admirals at war
Joakim: We'll meet at Midway!
Rikard, Oskar, and Daniel: To win the fight, tactics are crucial''
Everybody: Naval war!
- The verses of "Night Witches":Joakim: Pushing on and on, their planes are going strong
Pär, Thobbe, and Chris: Air force number one
Joakim: Somewhere down below, they're looking for the foe
Pär, Thobbe, and Chris: Bombers on a run
- The denouements of "Last Dying Breath"...Pär, Thobbe, and Chris: In haste, our lives are erased
Forward to glory for king and country
Joakim: Until your last dying breath!
Pär, Thobbe, and Chris: Defend the honour of Belgrade
Forward to glory, to face your fate at last
Joakim: Until your last dying breath!
- ... and "Winged Hussars":Pär, Thobbe, and Chris: Storm clouds, fire and steel
Death from above, make their enemy kneel
Joakim: When the winged hussars arrived!
Pär, Thobbe, and Chris: Shining armor and wings
Death from above, it's an army of kings
Joakim: When the winged hussars arrived!''
- The refrain of "Midway":
- The Swedish chorus of "Carolus Rex" says "Krigets konst jag behärskar", "the Art of War I master".
- "Wolfpack", about U-boats in WW2, has a lyric referring to the "silence of the sea" in the Battle of the Atlantic and 2019's "Bismarck", about the titular battleship and his Kriegsmarine crew, says that:And the silence of the sea is about to drift into a storm
- The protagonist of "Great War", fighting at the Battle of Passchendaele, pays "The Price Of A Mile", and says "though men have fallen, we see Heroes rise".
- "Attack of the Dead Men", about the Russians pushing back the Germans, includes the line "there's a thunder in the east" when referring to the German advance. Their previous song Panzerkampf, which is likewise about the Russians pushing back the German advance in WWII, included the line "Panzers on Russian soil / a thunder in the east."
- The 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.
- Floor Jansen was a choir member on The Last Stand. She also provided backing vocals on The Great War as well as singing on the soundtrack version of several songs, most notably "The Future of Warfare".
- Former guitarist Thobbe Englund co-wrote "Fields of Verdun" and played guitar on it, including leading the solo.
- 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".
- Cavalry of the Dead: "The Attack of the Dead Men" plays up the historical attack by Russians through Deadly Gas as if they really were fighting on in undeath to counter-attack the Germans.
- 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 Janouek, 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.
- The Great War: "Lest we forget." Interviews about the album were highlighting the fact that most of the world tends to focus on World War II instead of World War I, so the band intentionally highlighted some stories of the first World War.
- Character Exaggeration: Charles XII believed in the Divine Right of Kings, which held that a monarch's power came directly from God. The song "Carolus Rex" portrays him as a megalomaniac who stops just short in believing he is a god."I WAS CHOSEN BY HEAVEN! SAY MY NAME WHEN YOU PRAY!"
- 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
Facing death, their faith will keep the fear at bay!
- "The Carolean's Prayer" also has shades of this:
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 lives in God's hand, for their king and their fatherland!
See the whites in their eyes, Caroleans are marching on!
- Cold Sniper:
- "White Death", which is about the famous Finnish sniper Simo Häyhä.
- "A Ghost in the Trenches," about the Canadian World War I sniper Francis Pegahmagabow.
- 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 Janouek.
- 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 .
- The Great War is entirely about events from World War I.
- Cool Boat: "Bismarck" is a standalone single about the only open-ocean voyage of the Kriegsmarine battleship Bismarck, which was viewed as such a threat to Allied shipping during the Battle of the Atlantic that half the Royal Navy was sent to hunt himnote down.
- 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
- Joakim guest-sang in van Canto's cover of Sabaton's "Primo Victoria".
- The band crosses over with Indy Neidell of TimeGhost in the Patreon Exclusive Sabaton History version of The Great War album. Each track features an introduction by Indy explaining the history behind the music.
- The band also guest-starred in the video for Radio Tapok's cover of "Attack of the Dead Men", and Joakim actually sang a few lines towards the end of the song.
- The video for "Bismarck" was produced in collaboration with Wargaming in a promotion for World of Warships.
- Joakim Broden also joined forces with the power-metal band Grailknights on their song "Pumping Iron Power".
- Cunning Linguist:
- Like most Swedes, Joakim speaks English quite well (barring the odd singular/plural mismatch in the lyrics), 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 versanote ), and another bit where he actually forgets to switch back from English to Swedish when giving a lottery prize to a Swede.
- On the live version of the "Sabaton Cruise," since it's near Sweden, Joakim speaks almost entirely in Swedish for the duration of the show. One of the few things he says in English is "if you can't understand what I'm saying, I suggest you learn some fucking Swedish."
- 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 were outnumbered 60:1 and armed with swords against Imperial gunsnote —the fact that they even survived 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.
- "A Lifetime of War" reprises parts of "Gott Mit Uns", now much less enthusiastic.
- 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. Even "Far From the Fame", which is also a very sad song, still has the normal "Sabaton sound", while "Inmate 4859" feels much more downbeat and is actually quite chilling.
- 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.
- Deadly Gas: Several Songs from The Great War reference the use of poison gas during the war. In particular "The Attack of the Dead Men" tells the story of Russian soldiers who were thought to have been killed by the poison, charging through a wave of gas at the Germans.
- 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!
- Also invoked in "82nd All The Way":What Sergeant York achieved that day
Echoes from France to the USA
It's "82nd All The Way"
"Death From Above", what they now saynote
- "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, theyll be searching,
Ill regroup, feign retreat, theyll 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!
- Desert Warfare: "Seven Pillars of Wisdom" is about Lawrence of Arabia fighting with the Arab Revolt in the deserts of the middle east, raiding Ottoman trains and advancing towards Damascus.
- 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.
- Dirty Coward: Although the band usually abstains from judging who was right or wrong in any given conflict, "In the Name of God" plainly describes terrorists as evil cowards.
- 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.
- Drums of War: Inverted by the song "Fields of Verdun" which compares the opening artillery barrage of the battle to a drum roll.
- 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.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: The final chorus of To Hell And Back has Audie Murphy finally triumphing over his PTSD.He saw crosses grow in Anzio
Where no soldiers sleep
And where Hell's six feet deep
That death does wait, there's no debate
He charged and attackedHe went to Hell and back
- 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 end of the Third Reich draws near
- 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".
- "Panzerkampf" has this as a Badass Boast on the part of the Soviets.
Its time has come to an end
The end of an era is here
Its time to attack!
- Epic Ship-on-Ship Action: The music video for "Bismarck" depicts both of Bismarck's battles - the Battle of Denmark Straits and the Last Battle of the Bismarcknote
- Epic Tank-on-Tank Action: The subject of "Panzerkampf" is the Battle of Prokhorovka, part of the larger Battle of Kursk and one of the largest tank battles in history.
- Everyone Is Satan in Hell: Parodied with "7734", which has "hidden Satanic messages" so obvious a child could spot them. The title of the song is "HELL" in calculator spelling, and the second verse contains a bunch of numerology jokes: "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."
- 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'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."
- Foreshadowing: The Reveal of "Camouflage" is hinted at when the narrator notes earlier in the song that bullets seem to miss Camouflage as if he wasn't there.
- Forever War: "A Lifetime of War" is about the Thirty Years' War, which for some people lasted their entire lives. The Sabaton History videos for the song (covering both English and Swedish versions) go a step further, pointing out that Sweden was continuously at war with various countries for the full century covered by the Carolus Rex album.
- Four-Star Badass: "Far from the Fame" is about Karel Janouek, 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.
- Friendly Fire: In the song The Lost Battalion due to wrong coordinates the American artillery fires on their own stranded soldiers instead of German formations.
- Genre Shift: Besides the lyrical shift from Heavy Mithril to Horrible History Metal with Primo Victoria, the earlier albums are musically more Traditional Heavy Metal but shift to Power Metal roughly at The Art of War.
- Guardian Angel: At the end of "Camouflage", the eponymous 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")
- Inverted again by "The Attack of the Dead Men", which gives a similar portrayal to a counterattack by the surviving members of a Russian unit that was hit by a German gas attack during the battle for Osowiec Fortress:Osowiec then and again
Attack of the dead hundred men
Facing the lead once again
Hundred men charge again, die again
- Glorious Mother Russia: "Panzerkampf", "Night Witches", and "Hill 3234" are all about the strength of the Red Army of Russia.
- 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.
- On the "Sabaton Cruise" album, Joakim first welcomes the crowd to the cruise in Swedish, then welcomes them in English. However, he then adds "and if you want to understand me the rest of the show, I suggest you learn some fucking Swedish." For the rest of the show, while the songs use English lyrics, all of Joakim's banter between songs is 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 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".
- Gratuitous Latin: 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
- 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.
- "Far From The Fame" is about celebrating its subject, Czechoslovakian pilot Karel Janouek despite his deeds not being well known outside his homeland.
- Harsh Vocals: Joakim Brodén's singing voice is notably deeper-pitched and gruffer than many Power Metal vocalists, but he can't actually growl. When they covered Amon Amarth's "Twilight of the Thunder God", he sang the verses in his usual voice and one of the other guys growled the bridge.
- 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:
- The Art of War:
- "40:1", where a unit of 400-700 Polish Army troops held the village of Wiznma 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).
- "Panzerkampf", where a million-man formation of the Red Army fought off the Wehrmacht's attempt to encircle and destroy them at the Kursk salient.
- "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.
- "Hearts of Iron", about the German 9th and 12th Armies fighting a last stand against the Red Army, against orders from Hitler to fight to the last man, to allow tens of thousands of civilians and noncombatants to escape westward to the safety of the Western Allies' lines.
- The other Central Theme of The Last Stand, with most of the legendary last stands also being a case of this. "Winged Hussars", "Rorke's Drift", "Hill 3234", and "The Last Battle" are particular examples where the defenders won.
- The Art of War:
- Holy Pipe Organ: The intro to "The Carolean's Prayer" features this before it breaks into guitar.
- 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.
- Icarus Allusion: With "The Red Baron" the chorus says he's flying too fast and too high and the song keeps building, urging ever higher and also mentions Richthofen embracing his fame as The Red Baron.
- 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 eponymous character has bullets pass right through him. It's because he's a Ghost Marine.
- Instrumental Weapon:
- 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.
- In the official music video for "Bismarck", the sound of the eponymous battleship's guns firing (taken from World of Warships, which the video was produced in collaboration with) punctuate the first two choruses, but the third, coming after "his guns have gone silent at last", has no cannonfire.
- The official music video for "Field of Verdun" uses rifle, cannon, and machine gun fire to musical effect.
- Intercourse with You: In the form of a Heavy Meta Shout-Out. It's easy to miss, but the first verse of "Metal Crüe" includes the line "Watch the rock bitch go down, vixen spread". Rockbitch was a relatively obscure British all-female Hard Rock band in the '90s known for playing nude and performing unsimulated sex rituals on each other during concerts.
- "Join the Army," They Said: They made a cover of "In The Army Now" by Bolland And Bolland.
- The Juggernaut: "Ghost Division"They are the panzer elite,
Born to compete,
Never retreat. (Ghost Division)
Living or dead,
Fed by your dread.
- La Résistance:
- Coat of Arms:
- "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 - such as utterly humiliating the Italians and later furiously resisting the German occupation - this isn't far off.
- "Saboteurs" is about the Norwegian resistance fighters sent to destroy the Telemark heavy-water plant.
- "Uprising" is a song about the Warsaw Uprising, praising Polish resistance.
- "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. And then shot for treason by the pro-Soviet postwar government of Poland.
- Coat of Arms:
- Large Ham: Joakim Brodén is a Metal vocalist, after all.
- Last Stand:
- The Art of War: "40:1" is about the Battle of Wizna during the Nazi invasion of Poland, during which 700 entrenched Polish soldiers and six artillery guns held off a German army numbering 40,000 for three days before being overrun (they ran out of ammo, and German engineers were finally starting to crack their bunkers). The Polish captain jumped on a grenade rather than surrender.
- "Smoking Snakes" talks about three Brazilian soldiersnote who, ambushed by Germans, fought until their ammo ran out and died in a bayonet charge.
- "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.
- 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 eponymous 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.note
- "Last Dying Breath" is about the doomed defense of Belgrade by the Serbian Army against Austria-Hungary.
- The title 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.note
- "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.
- "Bismarck" is about the first and last deep-sea voyage of the German battleship of same name, whose defiant last stand against two Royal Navy battleships and a heavy cruiser is discussed in the song's bridge.At the bottom of the ocean, the depths of the abyss
They are bound by iron and blood
The flagship of the navy, the terror of the seas
His guns have gone silent at last
- 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
- Long-Runner Line-up: The 2000s line-up would be a solid type 4, having lasted from 2001 (when they changed drummers to Daniel Mullback) to 2012, except they added a dedicated keyboardist (Daniel Myhr) in 2005.
- 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. Taken even further by the Swedish version "Ett Slag Färgat Rött" (literally "A Battle Painted Red"), which is much more explicit about the Swedish war crimes while being exactly as energetic as the English version.
- "Attero Dominatus" is a song about the Soviet sack of Berlin. Despite this, it's a catchy song with a big sing-along chorus.
- "Fields of Verdun" is an awesome, badass, high-energy song about the Battle of Verdun, which lasted 303 days and claimed upwards of 300,000 lives and at least 400,000 other casualties.
- Lyrics/Video Mismatch : "The Lost Battalion" is about an event during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive in World War I. The lyric video mistakenly depicts a World War II battlefield (the Panzer IV that's occasionally visible is a bit of a giveaway).
- Magical Native American: "A Ghost in the Trenches", about Francis Pegahmagabow who was a soldier from the indigenous First Nations of Canada and the most effective sniper of the first World War, invokes this trope, saying that Pegahmagabow called upon the power of spirits to aid him on the battlefield.In the battle, the gas had them pinned
Pegahmagabow invoked the spirits of the wind
- 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. They're heavier than usual for Power Metal and Joakim sings in a rumbling baritone that stops just short of Harsh Vocals.
- 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". This happens again when "Inmate 4859" is then followed by the badass, energetic "To Hell And Back".
- The Last Stand has the relatively low key but fast paced song Last Dying Breath be immediately followed by Blood of Bannockburn, which is by far the most high key songs Sabaton has ever done, which is then followed by the much more slow-paced and low key song The Lost Batallion.
- Mother Russia Makes You Strong: "Panzerkampf", "Night Witches," "Hill 3234" and "The Attack of the Dead Men."
- My Country Tis of Thee That I Sting: Carolus Rex, their first #1 hit in their home country, is a warts-and-all retelling of the rise and fall of Sweden's 17th century empire, from Gustavus Adolphus to Carolus Rex. In particular, the title track paints Charles XII as practically a madman, utterly convinced of his own God-given rightness, and the following song "Ett slag färgat rött" (translation here) harshly criticizes his army for murdering hundreds of Russian prisoners of war after the Battle of Fraustadt.
- 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".
- Night of the Living Mooks: Invoked in "Attack of the Dead Men", which is about a battle in WW1 where the Germans used poison gas against a Russian position, and said enemy decided to fix bayonets and take them along. The Germans fled, thinking their enemy were vengeful revenants instead of Not Quite Dead.
- 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", "In The Name Of God", "Metal Ripper", "Hill 3234", "Carolus Rex", "Panzerkampf", "The Last Battle", The Lost Battalion, Union (Slopes of St. Benedict), and "The Last Stand".
- Nonindicative Name: Despite its title, "Panzer Battalion" isn't another song about World War Two German tanks, but about Gulf War-era US tanks.
- 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.
Even though you surrender
You will never survive
As the battle of Fraustadt turns
- Obvious Rule Patch: Joakim caused one of these. His mother is Czech and he has dual citizenship in the Czech Republic, and in 2015 he entered their national singing competition Český Slavík and finished in 5th place. The next year they added a rule that entrants had to primarily perform in the Czech Republic and booted him.
- Ominous Music Box Tune: "Inmate 4859" starts off with one.
- Ominous Pipe Organ:
- Played straight by "Wehrmacht", "Birds of War", and "Rise of Evil".
- The intro to "The Red Baron", especially prominent in the soundtrack version, features a polka-like tune that's almost Germanic Creepy Circus Music for the titular German Ace Pilot meant to evoke the nickname of his unit Jagdgeschwader 1, "Richthofen's Flying Circus" because of the colorful planes and even more colorful, accomplished pilots that comprised it.
- One-Man Army: "White Death" about Simo Häyhä.
- One-Woman Wail: The soundtrack version of "The End of the War to End All Wars" breaks into this at one part.
- Oppressed Minority Veteran:
- Heroes: "Inmate 4859" and "Far from the Fame" are both about World War II war heroes from Eastern Europe who became victims of their countries' new Soviet-imposed governments after the war's end, respectively Witold Pilecki (Polish, was shot as a traitor due to his loyalty to the Western-backed Government in Exile) and Karel Janouek (Czechoslovakian, imprisoned for several years following the pro-Soviet coup).
- "A Ghost in the Trenches" from The Great War is about Francis Pegahmagabow, a man from the Canadian First Nations who enlisted to serve in World War I despite not even being legally a Canadian citizen. As the Sabaton History video for the song describes, Pegahmagabow became the most successful sniper of the war, earning the Military Medal twice, and became an activist for indigenous peoples' rights after the war.
- Our Zombies Are Different: "Attack of the Dead Men" covers a incredible battle in WWI where Russian forces, after suffering extreme gas attacks from the Germans with no way to protect themselves, charged back at the Germans. By the time they charged, the gas had taken the toll on them to the point their skin was melting off due the effects of the glass and they were spitting blood as well as parts of their lungs. The surprise and the terror of this sight of what appeared to be the undead charging headfirst against them made the Germans flee in a disorganized panic (some falling in their own traps). After the battle, most of the remaining soldiers did indeed perish from their ghastly wounds.Osowiec then and againAttack of the dead, Hundred MenFacing the lead once againHundred menCharge againDie again!
- Out-of-Genre Experience:
- "The Ballad of Bull" is a straight-up Power Ballad.
- "Inmate 4859" has a much grimmer and downbeat sound than most Sabaton songs.
- "In Flanders Fields" is a musical rendition of a famous poem written by John McCrae, a Canadian veteran of World War I and physician who died just before the end of the war. It's not a metal song, rather more like something you would play at a memorial service.
- Paranoia Fuel: How the Night Witches are portrayed in their eponymous song. The only signs of their presence are a whisper on the wind and the destruction caused by their bombs.
- 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.
- 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).
- Precision F-Strike: In "Devil Dogs":
- "Come on, you sons of bitches! Do you want to live forever?!"note
- 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.
- Revolving Door Band: They've been one since 2/3 of the band left after Carolus Rex, having changed drummers in 2013note and swapping guitarist Thobbe Englund for Tommy Johansson in 2017.
- 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:
- "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.
- The title track is about King Charles XII of Sweden and his role in The Great Northern War.
- "Poltava" is about Tsar Peter the Great of Russia breaking the Carolean army at Poltava and turning the tide of the Great Northern War.
- "Sparta" is about King Leonidas leading the Spartans at Thermopylae.
- Carolus Rex:
- Say My Name:
Embrace the fame, red squadron leader!
- 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 Janouek!"
- Played with in "The Red Baron":
Call out his name: Rote Kampfflieger!note
- 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.
- "Devil Dogs" is about the Marines during the Battle of Belleau Wood in World War I. It's the battle in which the Marines earned their nickname, as the German army compared them to "hounds of Hell."
- Shell-Shocked Veteran: Referenced in the bridge of "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. It's paired with "From the foot of the Alps to the shores of the sea", a very rough paraphrase of a line from the (no longer used) first stanza of the German anthemnote .
- "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
Thrown towards Arnhem, a bitter defeat
- "Screaming Eagles" has one to a famous movie about Operation Market Garden:
They're stretched out just one bridge too far
- Shown Their Work: Besides the accuracy (and sheer obscurity) of their songs (such as "Far from the Fame"'s Karel Janouek, 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.
- Stealth Expert: "A Ghost in the Trenches" is about Francis Pegahmagabow, the most accomplished sniper of World War I. It describes him as a ghost roaming the battlefield making his way freely from trench to trench without being detected.
- 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.
- The song "The Future of Warfare" from the "Great War" album is about the first appearance of tanks on the battlefield.
- Title Drop: Aside from Metalizer, every song that shares a title with their albums has one. Multiple other songs too.
- 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".
- 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.
- Truck Driver's Gear Change: Appears on the final choruses of Attero Dominatus, The Last Stand, and To Hell And Back.
- 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). "Far from the Fame" does the same for Air Marshal Karel Janouek and Czechoslovakia (imprisoned for several years but not executed).
- 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
- "Carolus Rex," the title song from the same album, comes this close to being a Villain Protagonist Song, with lines like "Make them bow to my will!" and "Question me and die!"
- "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...
- "Rise of Evil" and "The Final Solution" is about Adolf Hitler's rise to power and his following genocide campaign against Jews or anyone who opposed the Nazi regime.
- 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.
- The War on Terror:
- "In The Name Of God", which is a "The Villain Sucks" Song about religious terrorists and references the Israeli practice of demolishing the homes of convicted terrorists and suicide bombers.
- They also go into the war in Iraq with "Reign of Terror" (about Saddam Hussein al-Tikriti in the Gulf War) and "Panzer Battalion" (about US armor during the invasion).
- 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
- "Fields of Verdun" is about the pure hell that was the French defensive effort at the eponymous fortress, a battle lasting 303 days.
- Great War is from the perspective of a "mushroom" (kept in the dark and fed bullshit) who lost his brother to a bullet accross the eyes, and can't find the glory he's been promised in sitting in a filthy trench, and just wants to give up and go home.
- 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.
- Jocke isn't the only one. One time when Thobbe Englund was shredding at a festival, his pants decided to join in. And that's how we learned that unlike Jocke, Thobbe tended to go commando.
- 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.
- Weird Historical War: Evoked by "The Attack of the Dead Men", about an incident during the first World War where a group of Russians counter-attacked through poison gas without gas masks. The song plays it up a bit more as if they were really undead soldiers.
- What the Hell, Hero?:
- "Uprising" calls out the Allies for twice abandoning the Poles to the Nazis. First, Britain and France failed to counterattack when Hitler invaded Poland in 1939. Then in 1944, the Warsaw Uprising was timed for the Red Army to be within striking distance and the Resistance hoped to link up, but Stalin ordered his forces to turn aside, apparently hoping the Poles and Germans would wear each other out and make his own postwar occupation of Poland easier.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. First, Britain and France failed to counterattack when Hitler invaded Poland in 1939. Then in 1944, the Warsaw Uprising was timed for the Red Army to be within striking distance and the Resistance hoped to link up, but Stalin ordered his forces to turn aside, apparently hoping the Poles and Germans would wear each other out and make his own postwar occupation of Poland easier.
- 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 Already Dead: "Attack of the Dead Men," about a charge on Osoweic. The soldiers charging were hit with a poison gas attack, giving them a short time to live. Even so, they charged, in a case of trying to take someone with them.
- 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.
- The Great War: "Fields of Verdun" is about the titanic French defensive effort at Verdun, repeating General Philippe Pétain's famous slightly misquoted order, "They shall not pass!" in the bridge (not coincidentally, the first snippet of the song to be revealed, in a Sabaton History video).''Fields of execution, turned to wasteland from the grass
"Thou shalt go no further"; it was said, "They shall not pass!"
- Zombie Apocalypse: Attack of the Dead Men, which is about the gas attack on the Osowiec Fortress by German forces on August 6 1915, is portrayed as one where the dead Russians rise to attack the Germans. This is not far from the truth. note