Friday, June 6, 2014

Sabaton - White Death

On May 10th of this year, Sabaton came to Calgary Alberta. I was super excited to see them. I had picked up most of their CDs and I really enjoyed everything about them, especially the fact that almost all their songs are inspired by European military history. They were the second band in a show of three. The opening act before Sabaton was Revamp, a nice surprise goth metal band from the Netherlands whose lead singer, Floor Jansen, is the currently lead singer for Nightwish, which is something I probably should have known ahead of time, but I did not. The main attraction was Iced Earth, a band I am still learning about.

On an unimportant side note, on Revamp’s North American Tour Diary Part 6, if you watch closely you can see me in it. Neat.

When Sabaton hit the small stage in the Republik nightclub and bar, something special happened; we the people of Calgary went nuts. Chants of “Sabaton! Sabaton! Sabaton!” ripped through crowd, we cheered louder for Sabaton then we would for Iced Earth later that night, at least I think we did. We were so loud and riled up we managed to surprise lead singer Joakim Brodén and he said;

“Calgary. This is very unusual. We’ve never been here before. This kind of ovation is unexpected.”

Later he joked as we continued to cheer;

“Wow. I’m feeling a little bit of a love hate thing going on here. I mean you all seem really nice, but what the hell happened at the Olympics? You guys raped us in the gold medal match. Every time Canada beats Sweden in hockey we will remove one song from our playlist.”

Thankfully he was just joking and we were treated to the full set.

Sabaton's front man Joakim Broden
Joakim Brodén proved to be a very good front man, the man has great energy and personality and he fed off our energy as we fed off of his. Also I like the fake body armor, Mohawk, goatee, shades combination, he makes it work.

It was a great show and I feel very confident Sabaton will return one day. Calgary made them feel welcome, and I am very happy I got to be a part of that.

The three biggest reasons I believe Sabaton will succeed on the global stage of metal are, great sound, great look, and great theme. The sound speaks for its self, solid drums with smooth rhythm and melody make every song of theirs jump out at you; they are very energetic and exciting all the time. Their look is simple, they wear greyscale camouflage, but they are distinct, they are easy to point out and that helps casual listeners remember who they are. Last the vastness of military history offers a nearly endless supply of stories and inspiration to draw upon for creating music, and military history is extremely interesting and exciting. It is a theme everyone from every country has some cultural connection with and war is something most metal fans have at least a passing interest in. After all what is more metal than war?

When creating metal music about famous battles and heroes through Europe’s dense military history it makes sense to write at least one song about the greatest soldier in all modern military history, I of course am speaking of Simo Häyhä. I am sure some people will argue that someone other than Simo Häyhä is the greatest military solider ever, but it’s hard to imagine a better candidate than the Finnish sniper.

Simo Hayha.  Getting shot
in the face is no big deal.
The Winter War began in 1939 when the Soviet Union invaded Finland. As Russians poured across the Finnish boarder they were brutally dispatch by a lone sniper. Dressed all in white and using a white guard M/28 rifle, Simo managed to hide in snow drifts and trees and shoot down Russians as they came the border. By the end of the war Simo had managed to rack up over five hundred confirmed kills, and as if that was not impressive enough he managed to do it in minus forty degree weather and over the course of merely one hundred days. This means Simo managed to kill an average of five or more men a day for a hundred days straight with an outdated rifle. After one hundred days of being slaughtered by one man some Russian finally got lucky and managed to shoot Simo in the face with a stray shot. Just to prove how badass Simo was he survived and lived to the ripe old age of ninety-six.

For his accomplishments in slaughtering Russians in the Winter War, Simo Häyhä was dubbed The White Death. Sabaton naturally wrote a song about him of the same name.

“You are in the sniper's sight,
The first kill tonight,
Time to die!
You are in the bullet's way,
The White Death's prey,
Say goodbye!”

This chorus is perfect. It is intense, powerful and deadly. The White Death is described almost like a force of nature, dispatching people so easily as if they were just thing to discard and happened just in the way. As civilized human beings we often shy away from the embraces of war, and as a generation that has never known true war we tend to demonize any acts of violence altogether, but somewhere deep inside us, all of us, we know there is something very exciting about violence and combat. The fear of death and the glory of triumph dwell in us all. A fast paced metal song about history’s greatest sniper can really get the blood flowing, and like so many Sabaton songs “White Death” has fantastic energy.

What better way to honour the White Death, Simo Häyhä?

I am calling it now. Sabaton will be a huge international success very soon, or maybe they already are and I just don’t know it.

- King of Braves
Metal's new bad asses.

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