Sabaton - Attero Dominatus

Sabaton formed in Sweden in late 1999. After various struggles with incompetent record labels left them on the verge of breaking up with a recorded but unreleased debut album in their back pockets, they landed a deal with countrymen Black Lodge in 2005. Displaying an admirable work ethic, "Attero Dominatus" is the band's second release for the label since then. You might have seen them on the road supporting Edguy and DragonForce on their recent European tour, and those names should give you an idea of the territory Sabaton operate in.

The title track opens the album with a crash of choirs and keyboards and one is instantly put in mind of Rhapsody (or Rhapsody Of Fire, as I guess we've got to call them nowadays). This impression is reinforced by the omnipresent double bass drums and the chugging, 'gadda-gadda-gadda' guitars. However, vocalist Joakim Brodén has a lower, throatier voice than Rhapsody mouthpiece Fabio Lione, albeit no less of a powerful one. He also has a thick Swedish accent, but remains intelligible for the most part. As the album progresses, it becomes clear that Sabaton are something of a weightier proposition than the Italian Christopher Lee botherers. The guitars are heavier, and the keyboards and choirs play a less prominent role. "Attero Dominatus" was recorded at the fabled Abyss Studios under the guidance of Tommy Tagtren, so of course the production does the business.

The promo photos show the band members to be very fond of their combat gear, and sure enough their lyrical paradigm is based around war, in particular WWII. Their lyrics are, however, absolutely hilarious and send the cheese level soaring through the stratosphere. "The Nazis must pay for their crimes, the wings of the eagle's been broken. . . Berlin is burning! . . . The Reich has fallen!" If you don't crack a smile at the cry of "Prepare for nuclear attack!" which introduces track 2 ('Nuclear Attack,' funnily enough) then you're a harder man than I.

The band have a tendency towards the generic - for example, following the rules of heavy metal album sequencing to a tee, the third song on the album, 'Rise of Evil,' is a mid-paced brooding track with a bass line which has Iron Maiden's 'Stranger In A Strange Land' written all over it. But this is a hugely fun CD which is too silly to be overly critical of.

Unbelievably, Sabaton are apparently one of the top three downloaded Swedish bands of all time, which just goes to show that this album may be cheesier than the foreskin of an Albanian goat herder who's allergic to soap, but sometimes we all hanker for a heaping chunk of Gorgonzola.