Carolus Rex is Sabaton's sixth studio album. It was released on 25th May 2012.
- The album was announced on 18th December 2011, at The Final Battle of World War Tour, 2011 (last concert of the tour).
- It was the last album to feature original lineup of the band.
- During the recordings of the album, 4 members left the band during the recording of this album, due to the constant touring exhaustion, private life commitments and future extensive touring plans that Pär had in mind for Sabaton.
- Joakim and Pär finished the recording of the album by themselves, with help from Peter Tägtgren and Jonas Kjellgren.
- This is the first album where the band had help from a historian, Bengt Liljegren who among other books, wrote Charles' XII biography.
- The band wanted to make sure that the texts are fact-based, due to the time period they were writing about on the album, hence the use of a historian.
- The album was released with English and Swedish lyrics.
- The band didn't plan to release the album in Swedish from the start, the intial plan was to include some lyric fragments in Swedish, but since it sounded so good they decided to record the album also in Swedish.
- Joakim admitted that they spent twice as time recording English versions, because the emotional delivery was very easy in Swedish.
- To record the album in two language versions was so demanding from Joakim, that by the end of the recording session he coughed blood.
- According to Joakim, the English version is fine, but lacks the emotional delivery present in the Swedish version.
- Lyrics in English and Swedish aren't translations, they are different at times, but both versions tell about the same story.
- The idea to write an album about Swedish history was demanded by fans, altough the band thought about it for some time.
- The Latin title is a nod to the band's first two albums, Primo Victoria and Attero Dominatus.
- In 2013, the album was certified gold in Poland.
- In 2018, the album was certified quadriple platinum in Sweden.
- On 30th November 2018, the 300th anniversary of the death of Charles XII, Sabaton released Platinum Edition of the album that included all bonus tracks from the previous editions, along with re-recorded song from the band's early days Harley from Hell that was previously released on Metalus Hammerus Rex. The Platinum Edition also included Swedish Empire Live.
- It's one of the most bought rock/metal albums in Sweden.
Joakim: " it's about the entire Swedish Empire. Starting from Gustav Adolf, who is called “der Löwe aus Mitternacht” in Germany, Charles X, Charles XI and Charles XII whose era heralded the end of the Swedish Empire and about which most of the songs deal, as he is a very interesting character. He definitely had megalomaniac features.
For most Swedes he is simply a character from the past, some think that he has ushered in a dark era for Sweden and some underground right-wingers make him their figurehead, which of course is complete idiocy. Most have forgotten it, but we have now written a lot about history and wars in other countries, so it was time to turn to our own history.
On why the album is about Swedish history:
Joakim: "(...) we normally cover the world wars or more modern conflicts, but many fans asked us why we don't sing about our own history, because in modern times Sweden hasn't been in war much. The album spans from the early 1600 to the early 1700. It starts out with Gustav Adolphus II, who was seen as the protector of the Lutheran faith at that time, fighting against the holy roman empire. It goes on from his daughter, Queen Christina up to Carolus Rex, Charles XII who was a madman really. You could probably put him almost the same level as Adolf Hitler - he's only one notch below. He didn't drink alcohol, he didn't have anything to do with women, he left Stockholm when he was 17, something like that, and he returned in a casket twenty years later."
Pär: "Lots of people have asked us why we sing about all other nations’ history and never Swedish history. When we found the historian Bengt Liljegren we knew we could do it and it worked out great. The title was just cool since King Charles XII had a Latin title which was Carolus Rex. And since Sabaton before had Latin album titles we thought it would be great."
Joakim: "That’s mostly because of fan requests. We’ve been singing about all kinds of wars for so long, and especially World War II we covered a lot, so fans asked: “Why don’t you sing about your own history?” And we had never thought of that to be of interest to anyone besides Swedish people, but obviously that worked too. And to be honest, I think the Germans were tired of being the bad guys on all of our albums, haha."
Joakim: "In Sweden, the theme of the Swedish Empire has a "far-right" stain. Before, we didn't dare to do it, we weren't important and known enough band to sing about it. We were afraid that people would misunderstand us and think that we were extreme right wingers. And now we told ourselves that we have strong enough means to let people understand us well. All in all, it's funny, as soon as we announced the topic of our new album, the Swedish media (not only those dealing with the world of metal music) began to say that Sabaton are Nazis. We only write texts, we have nothing to do with it. My mother is from another country."
On why the band worked with a historian:
Pär: "(...) there was a lot of things we didn’t know about when we wrote the new album. That is why we included a historian to accurately tell Sweden’s history. To help us and make it correct. This was the first time we worked with a historian and we definitely needed it. It’s not so easy to find facts about something which happened 700 years ago, as it is to find something that happened 70 years ago. (...)"
Joakim: "(...) we worked with a Swedish historian named Bengt Liljegren, who is considered one of the best in the world when it comes to the Swedish Empire. He wrote some books. We wanted to make sure that the texts are fact-based, because if you go back so far in time, the boundary between facts and legend is very fine. Pär: "This is the first time that we have a historian, we had never worked with anybody else except for the fans. When we sit at home, back in Sweden, and have no idea about what to write and where to find information the fans send those ideas; we ask them where we can find the information. This is was the first time that we worked with a historian and it was a really good thing. I’m not sure if we’re going to do it again in the future, but for this one it was perfect, especially because we were singing about Swedish history, so we wanted it to be perfectly accurate, otherwise we would look like stupid guys who don’t know their own history."
Pär: "We are not good at history so we must do a lot of research. On the Carolus Rex album we had the help of a historian called Bengt Liljegren who is an expert on the subject Swedish Empire and Charles XII (Carolus Rex). Without him it would not have been possible."
On why the album was recorded in English and Swedish:
Joakim: "It wasn't planned from the start. For fun I sang a pre-production chorus in Swedish and when I played it for Pär, we liked it so much that we recorded the entire song in Swedish, which led to the whole album being recorded in two languages. And in the end we did that.
Pär: "(...) We initially planned to have some parts of a song sung in Swedish but later we made the decision to have the whole album in Swedish also since it sounded so great when Joakim sang in Swedish."
Pär: "Me and Joakim had some ideas to make at least parts of songs in Swedish but later we thought it sounded so cool so we decided to have the whole album sung in Swedish too. After we recorded it we knew that there will be lots of people who will refuse to hear it in English after this."
Joakim: "Nothing wrong with the language, probably my skills in it, my impaired skills (laughs) I mean obviously we do speak decent English but you know, lets just say I would know one or two ways to say ‘snow’ in English, let’s make that as an example, I know five ways to say the same word in Swedish, and so I don’t think the writing part was lacking because we didn’t translate them, they were written separately the lyrics.
So they are not direct translations, sometimes they are way different, for example, the song ‘A Lifetime of War’ is an objective account of the 30 year war in the English version and it’s a personal experience from a young soldier in the Swedish version. It’s the same topic, but totally different lyrics. And erm, the tricky thing was that were more of these magic moments where I’d just sing and the emotion travels with the words better in Swedish because I am Swedish, unfortunately the English version suffers a little bit in comparison. But I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the English one.
Joakim: "(..) no matter how good we believe we are in English, Swedish is always gonna be our mother-tongue and it’s quite a bit easier to express yourself emotionally in your own language. Not only when writing the lyrics, but also when recording the vocals there’s an ”extra edge” on the Swedish version.... Quite a few people who can’t understand a word of Swedish have noticed this."
Joakim: "Unfortunately I have to say that no matter how good we think we are at English, it was easier to get the emotional delivery – that extra ‘it’ - in the Swedish version. We probably spent twice as long singing the English one than we’re used to, because the Swedish one came so naturally and easy and we didn’t want the English one to suffer so at a point I was actually singing till I was coughing blood! Then I decided it was time for a short break!"
Pär: "We actually recorded the album in both Swedish and English under a very big secret, then we invited some friends and acquaintances to listen to the new album. When we had played through the entire English version, we asked if there were any songs they wanted to hear again, and showed them the tracklist - but in Swedish. There were quite surprised faces, but it did not take long for everyone to agree that Swedish version was what mattered. So we called the record company and said that we should primarily release the record in Swedish instead, of course they thought we were completely stupid, but we kindly explained that it was much better that way, whereupon they said that not at all, whereupon we again kindly explained that it was certainly much better that way, and so it became Swedish in the end. Nowadays, even the suits agree that it's awesome, no matter what!"
On why there are two covers for the album:
Pär: When I knew what the album title would be I ordered the artwork from two different designers. We loved them both and decided to use them both. Personally I love the one with the Swedish warrior on the front, the double CD."
Joakim: "We want to follow a theme that depends on the version you buy. For example, for Carolus Rex, there is the image of Jobert Mello with the crown but there is also the image of the Swedish soldier. There, it is the work of a Hungarian by the name of Peter Sallai. It's our graphic brand. We have musical and graphic characteristics. And it's cool that even without a logo our t-shirts still look like Sabaton t-shirts. It is not a very elaborate plan but I like that we follow the same theme."
On working with Peter Tägtgren:
Joakim: "(...) this is the first time he did it all. With "The Art of War" it was mixed by him but recorded by his brother in another studio, and then we had "Coat of Arms". On that he only recorded the drums and some instruments, then we had to record on our own because he had to go on tour. Fredrik Nordström from Dream Evil mixed that. We talked with Peter - he's a friend and only lives four or five minutes away, and said we were looking for a producer for our next album, and he said "Let me do it, I haven't done one yet", and we were saying "you've done them all", and he said we hadn't given him the chance to start out with the drum recording and be there for the whole process right through till the mixing was done, and we realised it was true, so I said we'd see how it worked out - if we'd get along or if we'd kill each other because we know each other. I'd say quite a big part of the success of the album is due to Peter's ability to translate production-wise the emotions of each song."
Joakim: "(...) We asked him what he had in mind, whereupon he said: "I want SABATON on steroids". We asked him what the hell SABATON on steroids is and he said I take all the typical SABATON elements and make it bigger and fatter. And that's exactly what he did. Epic sound big choirs and fat guitars."
Joakim: "He demanded a lot from each of us, especially from me as a singer. He also contributed some new songwriting and production tips. Especially when it came to synths, he encouraged us not to always use the same sounds, but also to try something new. That turned out to be very good."
Pär: "I am totally happy with Peter’s work, first album that really sounds amazing of all Sabaton albums. He does not accept less than 110% of everyone and he is great of getting the little extra out of everyone."
On the issues during the recordings due to the departure of four band members:
Joakim: "There were basically no creative disagreements during the ‘Carolus Rex’ recording, just some kind of apathy that obviously doesn’t belong on an album recording session. I had seen things changing over 2010 and 2011 with some ex-members commitment and willingness to ”pay that price” as TWISTED SISTER so nicely put it, and if there’s something that I believe in myself it is: ”If your heart’s not into it, don’t do it at all”"
Pär: "It was good times and not so good times. The last part of the period in the studio was a lot by me and even more Joakim who went through an insane pressure and stress with this album. I am happy he is still alive, and I am happy that I am too.""
Pär: "From the moment the band split up, most of the recordings were made by me and Joakim. We worked around the clock, all the time. We've been going crazy many times. It wasn't pleasant, but thanks to the help of Peter Tägtgren and Jonas Kjellgren we were able to successfully finish the work and thanks to that we have the best album so far."
On instrument setup:
Joakim: "Technically it was what I consider a normal recording. First I do pre production in the beginning as I write the music. I remove the drums and set up a click track in Pro Tools, then play drums to that. Bass is recorded clean, and then the guitars recorded clean as well. Most of the keyboards we add live, some is MIDI programmed but I prefer to record live to get some more human feel to it."
What the band thinks about the album:
Pär: "It was a lot of work making that (album - ed. note), in two languages and about our own Swedish history. We had to clear everything with a historican since it is not so easy to find all information that we needed. When I look at it today I am very proud. It's a milestone in our career. For sure a lot of people did not care about it as it was Swedish history. But still we liked it."
Joakim: "I am very happy with the music. I really love to write concept albums where everything fits together. We also had help with the story. We usually write the music and lyrics separately, but when I wrote the songs, I always knew what this was about. It is actually a typical SABATON album, but a little more cinematic and profound. I am also very satisfied with the production, because everything fits here."
Joakim: "If we think back on the recordings and the songwriting, it's actually better than expected. A big part of it goes to the cap of Peter Tägtgren, who produced the album, he's just a genius. The only thing I regret is that if I had known what kind of sound he could conjure up, I would have replaced a song that is on the album with another song that is not on the album. I thought that the song we didn't take just needed a bombastic sound that we didn't have before, but then it was clear "Fuck, it should have been on the album". But it is a good song and it will surely be on the next album."
Joakim: "The album naturally had more impact in Sweden than in the rest of the world because we made a version in Swedish and the CD talks about Swedish history. It generated a huge media buzz in Sweden. In the rest of the world we have known the usual circuit of new releases: people start by saying "Oh, it's very good! Then they say "It's not as good as the previous one or the album before" and then after six months they change their mind again. It's always the same, you buy an album, you listen to it and you like four or five songs on it then by dint of listening to it you realize that you like more and more songs. You have to wait at least six months for people to get an idea about it. As I often say: a year is a good time to let listeners get to know the album and find out if they want a new album. Of course in an interview I would say things like "This is the best album we have ever made" when neither I nor the listeners have yet had time to digest it. Impossible to know if we will not get tired of this album. Sometimes I write a song and say to myself: "damn, it's great" but, when we haven't even finished recording it, I don't like it anymore.
But overall I am satisfied with the reactions generated by Carolus Rex, everyone has their opinion. Some people prefer Metalizer, others prefer the more epic sound of Carolus Rex. But honestly I don't think anyone can say, "Shit, this is not a good album!"
Pär: "(...) it is one of the albums that I have something I would like to change afterwards. I think it is too much of everything. We overuse the might of choirs and mighty orchestral arrangements in every song. The album gives not much room to breathe. On the same time I hold the Swedish version of the album as the highest."
The album tells with historical accuracy the history of the Swedish Empire – from its beginning in 1611 to its collapse more than a century later during the reign of King Charles XII, after whom the album is named.
Joakim: "(...) we were very careful that what we wrote was historically correct obviously but we decided early on. And also since we’ve worked with Bengt – A history professor, we decided and it was also something he wished that we would show the glorious and good side of the Swedish, you know what they did, but also we shouldn’t censor the really fucking….when they were bastards you know, show it all you know?
(...) it is a touchy subject in Sweden because Swedish history is somewhat connected and has been unfortunately to right-wing extremism. I don’t think at all that Swedish history should belong to a political, religious group. It’s Swedish history no matter what.
(...) so in Sweden people were a bit afraid at the beginning but actually since the album – it was worse when we announced it – but since the album came out people actually read the booklet, heard the lyrics and since we recorded in Swedish as well I’d say that 95% of all that fear has blown away.
(...) It was a nice change to go into Swedish history now seeing as the album spans from the early 1600’s to the early 1700’s, now you’ve got a little bit more words you can use, but, it’s still artillery! It’s still cannons, you know. It’s tough.
(...) the help we had from Bengt the history professor helps us, you know he didn’t write the lyrics but he helped find the subject, find the ideas you know where to look for it, these books, cos you know there’s not too much on the internet and you gotta go to libraries, find books that are not in print any more which never happened to us before"
Pär: "It was a terrible time and terrible things were happening in Sweden. The war was going on all the time. Of course, this was also the period of Sweden's power as a country. The album doesn't try to glorify it, it rather explains the rise and fall of the Swedish Empire."
Joakim: "Sometimes it's difficult to accept the negative aspects of what your own country has done. Not every event can be put in the compartment with the words "fame, glory, hallelujah". Swedes were also assholes. But they also did things that make us proud. It somewhat sweetens the thread of the past... You know, gives you reason to be happy."
- Dominium Maris Baltici – 00:29
- The Lion from the North – 4:42
- Gott Mit Uns – 3:15
- A Lifetime of War – 5:45
- 1 6 4 8 – 3:54
- The Carolean's Prayer – 6:14
- Carolus Rex – 4:53
- Killing Ground – 4:24
- Poltava – 4:03
- Long Live the King – 04:09
- Ruina Imperii ("Empire's Downfall") – 3:21
- Twilight of the Thunder God (Amon Amarth cover) – 3:59
- In the Army Now (Bolland & Bolland cover) – 3:59
- Feuer Frei! (Rammstein cover)– 3:12
- Harley from Hell - 3:50
- Dominium Maris Baltici – 00:29
- Lejonet från Norden – 4:43
- Gott Mit Uns ("God With Us") – 3:16
- En livstid i krig – 5:45
- 1 6 4 8 – 3:55
- Karolinens bön – 6:14
- Carolus Rex – 4:54
- Ett slag färgat rött ("A Battle Coloured Red") – 4:25
- Poltava – 4:04
- Konungens likfärd ("The King's Funeral Procession") – 04:10
- Ruina Imperii – 3:24
- Pär Sundström - Bass
- Joakim Brodén - Vocals, Keyboards
- Rikard Sundén - Guitars
- Oskar Montelius - Guitars
- Daniel Mullback - Drums
- Sabaton French Division
- Sabaton French Division
- Metal Jesus Magazine