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Heroes is Sabaton's seventh studio album. It was released on 16th May 2014.

Information

  • The album was announced on 8th January 2014, the band presented the album cover and informed about recording the album at The Abyss studios with Peter Tägtgren.[1]
  • The alternative cover (with the eagle monument) was announced on 10th January 2014. However, this was the early version of the cover before the band had all the lyrics ready, so some of the flags on the cover were used as placeholders and were changed on the final version.[2]
  • The final artworks and the tracklist were unveiled on 21st February 2014.[3]
  • The artworks were made by Péter Sallai, who previously did the cover with the charging Carolean for Carolus Rex (album)[4]
  • The band received a lot of negative comments for the album cover with the American soldier punching the German soldier for being too much pro-American and anti-German; Joakim said that he knew that the image is quite stereotypical but it would’ve been more controversial the other way around; he likes the cover and considers it one of the best they had, it reminds him of old movie posters.[5][6]
  • It was the first album to feature the new lineup of the band with Thobbe Englund and Chris Rörland on guitars, Hannes Van Dahl on the drums.
  • Joakim was suffering from extreme performance anxiety since because of the fact that this was their first album with a new lineup and if he had written a bad album everybody would have blamed the new band members.[7]
  • It was the first time when the other band members contributed to a Sabaton album.[8]
  • Joakim said that during the recording of Heroes everyone actually wanted to be there in the studio.[9]
  • The album was recorded in about 6 weeks. [10]
  • According to Joakim, it was fun to see how quick the new guitarists recorded their parts.[11]
  • The band had the idea to make an album focused on the individuals instead of big battles since 2009 and recording of Coat of Arms and the song White Death which focused on a single person, but the concept didn't fit the album's theme back then.[12][13]
  • The band heard the story of Witold Pilecki also in 2009, it became the topic of Inmate 4859; it was also one of the reasons they made an album dedicated to individuals who did extraordinary things.[14]
  • Joakim and Pär thought the concept about individuals was interesting, so they kept it for later. [15]
  • The topics for the songs lyrics were chosen by Joakim and Pär.[16]
  • Joakim said that they wouldn't have heard about half of the stories they put on the album, if their fans hadn't come to them with a book and said that they have to read it.[17]
  • The band's aim with the lyrical concept of this album was to tell the stories that aren't known to people.[18]
  • It was important to focus on the personal, human side of things, pay attention to individuals or smaller groups and change the focus of the lyrics not to repeat the old formula. [19]
  • It was easier for Pär to write lyrics for the album due to using different vocabulary describing the individuals and illuminating their own stories.[20]

Background

Recording and writing process:

Joakim: "As usual the writing process goes on all the time, but the final 3 months are usually 12-16 days of composing for me before we hit the studio to record it. The album was recorded in about 6 weeks in the beginning of this year and it was quite fun to see how quick our new guitarists laid down all the guitars." [21]

Joakim: "As I was writing the album, I was suffering from extreme performance anxiety since this is the first album with the new lineup, and if I had fucked up and written a bad album, everybody would have blamed the new boys."[22]

Pär: "For the first time in Sabaton's history other members were included in the songwriting. This had never happened in the past! This is very nice! Fresh ideas, but always based on Sabatons. So a little bit changed in songwriting, but the sound remained unchanged."[23]

Pär: "Everyone has written songs for this album, Joakim has written together with some people on some songs. This had never happened before in the history of Sabaton, that someone other than Joakim wrote. Chris had a lot of ideas that were good but didn't make the album, (drummer) Hannes worked with Joakim on the track Man of War on the bonus CD. For the first time there were a lot of people involved in composing the songs, and I think that will happen more in the future."[24]

Joakim: "(...) the new members adapted much better than we expected. It was also a nice surprise, that when there were moments of creating solos for melodies, they didn't have overgrown egos telling them to create their own solo, but often went along with the arranged melody, strongly related to the core of the composition. Of course they have their own style and influence on the arrangement, in the technical parts they had the opportunity to create their own parts and that's cool."[25]

Joakim: "Plus the rhythm guitars were previously recorded in a week, maybe ten days plus solos. And now Chris and Thobbe recorded all the guitars plus solos and overdubs in four days."[26]

Joakim: "(...) you can already hear the personal touch of the respective instruments. Why should I explain to a guitarist who is five times better guitarist than I am how to play his solos, for example. Well, of course you can recognize their handwriting, you know, in the guitar solos, in the drum fills, and so on..."[27]

Joakim: "It's our first album with the new line-up and I can honestly say it has the best guitar work we've ever had on any album by far. It's definitely a step up in most senses. Whether the songs are good or not is up to the listener, not us to tell people. But I have a great feeling about this one and I haven't gotten tired of it yet. One thing I can say I'm proud of is that this is the strongest album we've put out yet."[28]

Joakim: "This one is less symphonic and more straight-on metal than Carolus Rex. The writing process is pretty much the same. I've always been the one writing most of the music. But now, Man of War I wrote with Hannes. Usually it’s me and Pär who write the lyrics. From that point of view, not much has changed. But it was way more fun to record this album. Itäs the first with the new line-up and everyone actually wanted to be there."[29]

Joakim: "In the studio the album "Heroes" was recorded on TAPP Marshalls JCM800 modified by the company. We really go for the minimum when it comes to the amount of guitar gear. When it comes to wireless connections we use Sennheiser as it has proven itself in battle and difficult concert conditions. And Pär likes ESP basses."[30]

Lyrical concept:

Pär: "(...) we got the idea for the concept in 2009 when we were thinking of writing songs about individuals and not about big battles. So, we had some stories in mind that now became the new album; we saved them because we couldn't use them in the Coat of Arms album."[31]

Joakim: "It's a bit of a different concept this time out. We're still singing about historical events and war, but this time we're focusing on the personal or human side of things, paying attention to individuals or smaller groups. This is very interesting for me, since I love to tell stories with music. It's important that we don't keep doing the same thing over and over again, so I hope this new focus will keep things a little more interesting for us and that people will enjoy it."[32]

Joakim: "I think it started when Pär and I wrote the lyrics to "White Death" in 2009, on the Coat of Arms album. It's about a Finnish sniper, Simo Häyhä, we realized that talking about a specific person was interesting, so we kept this idea for later. Our fans are also a good source of inspiration. We wouldn't have heard about half of the stories we talk about in this album if our fans hadn't come to tell us "read this book" by handing us one. On reading, you are completely blown away! This is the case with "Inmate 4859", it is about a Polish soldier who goes on his own to Auschwitz, gathers evidence and starts a resistance movement, before being able to escape. How many people are doing this? This guy is famous in Poland, but I had never heard of him. These people are heroes, but in general they are not that important."[33]

Pär: "(...) It was never the decision makers we think about, but the people who are unselfish and brave. That it more interesting."[34]

Pär: "That's what we like to do, to tell the stories that aren't known to people, it's more interesting that way. This also means we have to do a little bit more research to make it interesting to write the songs."[35]

Pär: "(...) there is always repetition somewhere, because there is only a limited vocabulary in the world, what else should you say instead of "tank"? But with our new album "Heroes" this has become easier, because now we don't look at big armies, but individuals and illuminate their own story. Of course, therefore, each track has its own flavor and its own terms."[36]

Album artworks:

Joakim: "So actually it was our art designer Péter Sallai(...). We told him our new album was going to be called "Heroes", and then he wanted to do something with action in it, you know: Lively, and maybe a little brutal, because war is also a brutal thing. And that's what happened to it - I think it looks a bit like an old school movie poster, and I really like it. So we decided to take it that way. Of course, we knew that this would be a pretty controversial thing for some people, an American soldier beating a German soldier, albeit quite stereotypical. But it would have become really controversial if the German soldier had hit the American, you know what I mean?"[37]

When the cover of the regular release was shared with the fans, there was quite a bit of negative feedback (anatomical errors, anachronisms, glorifying the American soldier), more than was the case with other covers.

Pär: "Of course we read what people say, but I think it's pretty idiotic: "Ooh, it's America." For Sabaton to survive, we need to tour the world, and we already tour Europe more than a lot of other bands. We need more places to tour, but that has nothing to do with the artwork. For that, we asked our artwork artists what we needed for Heroes: something with energy, something powerful. And make a second version that is very "honorable," the one with the arc and the flags. And we got exactly what we asked for. But if people think that our artwork reflects how we see the world or how we want to tour, that's not true."[38]

Pär: "When we released the first one (with the arc and the eagle monument - ed. note), we didn't know which songs would be on the album. We used the flags provided by the artist, because we had to make the artwork public to start the pre-sale.[39]

Pär: "I really like the idea of having different artworks! For example for special editions, some bands only put a sticker on it, but for me you have to see that this is special. We did it for "Carolus Rex", for "Swedish Empire", for "World War Live". Some have told us to focus on just one cover, but we don't see why. It's good and right that different editions have different artwork."[40]

Pär: "I really like making a different artwork for the limited editions because it makes them even more special. And then you add a couple of bonus or live records songs to top it off. But I think the two artworks complement each other."[41]

Pär: "(...) Today it has become pretty complicated with all the different editions and I really sorry for all the record collectors because it is hard getting all of them. But this was created by the demand of the market; some prefer the vinyl edition, others the digital and others the CD format. Everyone wants something different and the record stores chose what version they think they can sell better. So, in order to make as many as possible people happy, you need to release different versions. You can't just release a CD or a vinyl and hope that everyone will buy it. In fact, very few people will buy it. I think the download market is a complete failure for the record industry and for the bands who thought they could stop people getting the music for free. I mean, we have something that people wants and they will get it one way or another, especially if they don’t find something that they are willing to pay for.[42]

What the band thinks about the album:

Joakim: "I'll be honest, I still like the album. And I certainly think it's one of our best albums. Although it still hasn't been long enough for me to have a proper perspective. But there's no longer any fear in me that something might go wrong with the new line-up, that the songs aren't as good as they used to be. After the recording session, after the release of the album, after the fans' reactions, I know that we recorded very good material. Of course, I accept that some people will like this record and some will like any of our previous records. But I haven't heard a single person tell me that this is not a good Sabaton album. The vast majority are like "yes!". Of course, whenever I compose, I always want every album to be the best in the band's history. I can never be sure that it will work out, but we strive for it every time. "Heroes" was meant to be proof to those who doubted Sabaton that we could still afford to create something good."[43]

Joakim: (...) "we did Heroes, obviously that was the first album with the new lineup, so we wanted everything to be very, very Sabaton, and very straight on. (...)[44]

Cancelled Commanders bonus disc

Joakim: "I think it was when Pär and I were sitting down to write lyrics for Carolus Rex or Heroes. I said to Pär, "Maybe we should do this mini album sometime." You know, because when we did Heroes, we also wanted to do Commanders – another CD – next to it. Of course, in that case, to include guys like Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin. Nuclear Blast, our label, said, "Oh no, fuck no, you don’t!" [laughs] And then it was, "But you can do it about other commanders, like Alexander the Great!" And, it's like, really? Doing an album about commanders and not including these guys, that's like having a fucking AC/DC album – a greatest hits –  without "Thunderstruck" and "Hells Bells", you know? It can’t be done."[45]

Joakim: "(...) in Sweden, it wouldn't be a big problem to put a song about Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin… You know, get all the crazy guys in there. The problem could be, though, that in other parts of the world… I'm guessing it would probably okay in the Czech Republic; (...) But I'm guessing Germany, America, doing these things… Also maybe Russia wouldn't like us digging into those things. And we wouldn't want to make people really sad or end up on a 'banned' list. It would be kind of stupid for us."[46]

Tracklist

  1. Night Witches  – 3:01
  2. No Bullets Fly – 3:37
  3. Smoking Snakes  – 3:14
  4. Inmate 4859 – 4:26
  5. To Hell and Back – 3:26
  6. The Ballad of Bull – 3:53
  7. Resist and Bite – 3:27
  8. Soldier of 3 Armies – 3:38
  9. Far from the Fame – 3:47
  10. Hearts of Iron – 4:28

Bonus tracks (digibook):

  1. 7734 – 3:33
  2. Man of War – 3:48

Bonus tracks (earbook)

  1. For Whom the Bell Tolls (Metallica cover) – 5:21
  2. En hjältes väg (Raubtier cover) – 4:26
  3. Out of Control (Battle Beast cover) – 3:37

Lineup

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