Heavy Metal History of War
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Heavy Metal History of War

You may not know the names Adrian Carton de Wiart, Francis Pegahmagabow, or the Zemlyansky Regiment. Hell, you may not even be able to pronounce them. What’s important is that they’re all ordinary soldiers who did some extraordinary things on battlefields where most of us would have curled into a ball while filling our pants. Sabaton is a band that sings about the history of war on the battlefield and a class SKILLSET folks would have aced in high school!

De Wiart was a British soldier wounded in three wars who ripped his fingers off when a doctor refused to amputate them. Pegahmagabow was the deadliest sniper of World War I. The Zemlyansky Regiment charged a German trench while their faces were melting in the middle of a chlorine gas attack—so maybe it’s time for a little history.

Sabaton is a History Lesson

Your teacher today will be the Swedish band Sabaton, which has told the stories of battlefield daring, gallantry, and valor via heavy metal since 1999. Over the course of 10 albums, they’ve covered everything from the Battle of Thermopylae to Operation Iraqi Freedom and remembered the heroes in between. 

Sabaton’s song about Adrian Carton de Wiart is “The Unkillable Soldier.” They sang about Pegahmagabow in “A Ghost in the Trenches.” Their song for the Zemlyansky Regiment is called “Attack of the Dead Men.” 

It turns out nothing is more metal than guts and glory in war. 

“Unfortunately, it is in human nature to be aggressive, destroy each other, and make war.” Bassist Pär Sundström said this in a 2012 interview. “I wish this was not the case, even though I would have to sacrifice the band. I’d rather sacrifice the band and have worldwide peace. That would be a good thing. Unfortunately, people kill each other, there is war in the world, and we sing about them when they become history.”

The band’s idea formed when Sundström and singer Joakim Brodén were watching the 1998 World War II movie Saving Private Ryan. They decided to focus on battles, wars, and historical events. Calling themselves “Sabaton” refers to war, as a sabaton is the foot armor of a medieval knight. 

They formed a metal band with musicality on par with Metallica and Slayer, videos resembling Call of Duty remade epic battles from history, and album art that rivals any Iron Maiden cover. Sabaton’s brand of heavy metal has made them the most successful band to come out of Sweden since Abba.

(Photo by Sabaton)

Homage Through Songs

Their first album was released in 2005 (they have earlier works, but that’s a longer story), and they’ve been equally hailed by metal fans and criticized by people who don’t read their lyrics. The fans take the time to listen to the lyrics and really consider the message. Their critics just see song titles like “Rise of Evil” and “The Final Solution” paired with a metal band. Sabaton’s critics don’t realize that their point of view comes from the men who bleed on the battlefield, not the war’s politics. 

“We always say that we are a non-political band because we do not take political stands,” said Pär Sundström. “We are a non-religious and non-political band, but the songs are sometimes sung from a certain point of view that has a stand.”

They’ve been called Nazis and communists—though both are polar opposites. Their song “Wehrmacht” is about the average German soldier in World War II. “Hill 3234” is about Soviet Red Army paratroopers fighting the Mujahideen in Afghanistan. The songs don’t support anything; they’re telling a universal story about people fighting for their lives and their comrades in arms.

“If you looked through it and tried to figure out if there was political meaning, then we’d end up being communist/Nazi/democratic retards,” said Sundström.

Their lyrics aren’t the boring dronings of some khaki-wearing slob in a stuffy university lecture hall, although they have consulted historians in the past. Most of their ideas come from Sabaton fans, and the battle-inspired lyrics are some of the most metal words ever put to music. 

Their live shows highlight the love for soldiers and freedom.
(Photo by Skillset Staff)

Nazi Death Songs

In “Smoking Snake,” the band sings about three Brazilian soldiers who fought the Nazis to their deaths in World War II in Italy. Sabaton writes: 

“Sent overseas to be cast into fire, 

Fought for a purpose with pride and desire, 

Blood of the brave they would give to inspire, 

Cobras Fumantes, your memory lives.”

“Stormtroopers” is a song about a unit of German soldiers in World War I who were specially trained to infiltrate enemy trenches.

“Strike at zero hour,

With overwhelming firepower,

They’re fueled by the fear in their enemy’s eyes,

It’s a shock troop infiltration,

A fast and violent escalation,

Out of the trenches, the stormtroopers rise.”

Even the legendary A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft—the Warthog—got its own Sabaton song:

“Thunder and fire,

Realizing an unholy,

Hellborn, desire,

We are out of control,

To conquer this world.”

Other notable warriors and battles that have received the Sabaton treatment include:

  • The British invasion of the Falkland Islands
  • The Scottish victory over the English at the Battle of Bannockburn
  • The U.S. Army Air Forces in Europe during World War II

They also have two albums devoted to the horror and bravery of the millions who fought in World War. Another one of theirs is dedicated to Sweden’s military history. 

“Every school system I’ve ever encountered has been very effective at turning something interesting, like history, into something boring,” said singer Joakim Brodén in a 2020 interview. “If you zoom in and tell stories, like the tale of Witold Pilecki, a guy who went voluntarily to infiltrate Auschwitz and support the resistance? These are human stories. People from every nation and every culture can relate to them.”

Sabatons albums all focus on different historical battles and wars.
(Photo by Sabaton)

Inspiration and Dedication

The band’s dedication to history and its fans (both metal fans and history buffs) has earned them awards, their annual metal cruise trip (called The Battleship, which sells out every year), their outdoor festival and even a Polish officers’ saber from the presiding archbishop of Gdansk for writing songs about the Winged Hussars. 

Sabaton is one of Europe’s most popular metal bands, topping the charts in some countries, and has even played to a crowd of 600,000. Their album “The Great War” reached number one in Sweden, Germany, and Switzerland and number 11 in the United Kingdom. They have even begun to gain popularity in the United States, a notoriously difficult feat for any European metal band. 

In 2015, Brodén got drunk and made a bet with his bandmates in their hometown of Falun, Sweden. He bet them he would walk to their next gig. Unfortunately, that gig was in Trondheim, Norway, some 350 miles away. He could do it because Sabaton fans helped him along the way. 

Their devoted fans are huge supporters of the 1st and 2nd amendments.
(Photo by Skillset Staff)

Heavy Metal Heroes

What inspires that kind of dedication to a band? Metal fans are some of the most hardcore fans on Earth, and Sabaton fans are as dedicated to the band as Sabaton is to the stories they tell. Sabaton fans took Brodén in and offered help for every step of his walk to Trondheim. When the band asked fans for stories of heroism from their home countries, they got 10,000 responses.

On top of their two albums about World War I, they have an album about World War II. One is about famous last stands, one based on Sun-Tzu’s The Art of War, and one about individual heroism. After their fans sent in their suggestions, Sundström determined he had enough material for 10 more albums. It looks like Sabaton is going to be around for as long as men kill each other in war. Military history really is metal.

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Source link: https://www.athlonoutdoors.com/article/sabaton-heavy-metal-history-on-the-battlefied/ by Skillset Staff at www.athlonoutdoors.com