Civil War band photo

CIVIL WAR – The Killer Angels

Civil War - The Killer AngelsJust mention the word Sabaton to anybody in Sweden and there’s a big possibility that that person’s face will grimace in disgust. I’m not sure just how big Sabaton are outside of Sweden, but in this country, they are actually a pretty big deal and one of a few metal bands that has gone platinum. Now, platinum in Sweden is only 40 000 sold units (in the 80’s / 90’s it was 100 000 units and Europe sold that 2 times in a row), but in a time and age where illegal downloads and crap like Spotify rules, it’s actually quite an achievement. Every time a band hits pay dirt and becomes big and a household name, there will always be people who like to complain and spit out their hatred for said band – it happens all the time. However, in this case, I’m one of those. I can’t stand Sabaton and I’m completely baffled by the fact that they have gotten so big. So what does that have to do with anything, one might wonder. Well, last year, four members of Sabaton, guitarists Oskar Montelius and Rikard Montén, drummer Daniel Mulback and keyboard player Daniel Myhr straight out left the band, leaving only two guys in Sabaton to care of the mess. Now, these four guys didn’t waste any time in forming a new outfit. In came lead singer Nils Patrik Johansson, a name that lots of people in the metal community in Sweden know since his days with Wuthering Heights and Astral Doors and bass player Stefan “Pizza” Eriksson. Another question, might be, if I think that Sabaton was so horrible, then why on earth would I take an interest in Civil War? The band does include four Sabaton-members. The truth is, I really wasn’t. But since I’m a subscriber to Sweden Rock Magazine, I got myself the whole debut album from this lot as it came with the mag for all subscribers and I thought that it would be really stupid not to at least give it a shot when I got the album for free and all.

Said and done, stereo on loud and beer in hand while sucking up some sun on my balcony. After the opening track “King Of The Sun”, I just sat there with my jaw on the floor. This was good. No, this was just absolutely awesome! It took me one listen at home and I thought, that this album was really good, but it was after I listened to it in my ear phones that I really discovered just how damn good this album was. The opening track has some major Black Sabbath and Rainbow influences with a twist of Manowar thrown in there.  “First To Fight” follows, a really good metal track that kicks ass big time, “St Patrick’s Day” is nothing but brilliant with its Celtic influences, kind of a metal Thin Lizzy and “Rome Is Falling” is a catchy track, pretty good, but a bit too power metal for me. “I Will Rule The Universe” is a killer, very melodic with a big hit feel and “Lucifer’s Court” is pure f**king metal – I guess the title kinda gives that away a bit. “Brother Judas” is one of the best songs on this album, a melodic metal track that’s both catchy and aggressive, but “My Own Worst Enemy” doesn’t do it for me at all. I’m not into power metal and this is a bit too much down that alley and “Gettysburg” has a chorus that also goes too far into that territory, although its verses are just plain great. Us, SRM subscribers also gets a bonus track, only for us, a cover version of Black Sabbath’s “Children Of The Grave” and the fact is, it’s a really good version. They make it sound like it might have sounded had the Dio era Sabbath written and recorded the song – very cool.

To say that I’m surprised might be the understatement of the decade, I never thought I’d like this so much. The four ex Sabatons really made the right decision when they decided to leave and form this band, because this is so superior to Sabaton that I don’t even have the words to explain it. The power metal and wimpish choruses and melodies of Sabaton are a no-show, thank God. Also, Nils Patrik Johansson is a real killer. Even though I knew his name and I have read about him, I have never heard him sing until now. Holy crap, what a voice. The guy really has some iron lungs and the roar of a lion. Think Ronnie James Dio, Tony Martin, Jorn Lande and Eric Adams in a blender and you’ll get the idea. The guy is amazing and must be one the best voices ever coming out of this country – and you should know, we have a lot of brilliant singers here. On the downside, it must be said that the war theme are and have always been Sabaton’s thing and for Civil War to go down the same route feels a bit unimaginative. It’s already been done and even though four members in this band were there when Sabaton created that thing, there’s really no use for this band to the same. It’s ok for one album, but for their next album they need to drop it, otherwise they run the risk at being looked upon as copycats. The name Civil War can easily be used anyway. Now, I really regret that I missed their gig at Sweden Rock earlier this month. Damned be those preconceptions. Still, better late than never and for everyone who has the same thoughts as me on Sabaton, if you like metal, you’d might wanna give these boys a shot anyway.

Jon Wilmenius (8/10)

Tracklist:

01. King Of The Sun
02. First To Fight
03. Saint Patrick’s Day
04. Rome Is Falling
05. Sons Of Avalon
06. I Will Rule The Universe
07. Lucifer’s Court
08. Brother Judas
09. My Own Worst Enemy
10. Gettysburg
11. Children Of The Grave (Sweden Rock Magazine bonus track)

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