Words: Craig Hartranft
Civil War: a Swedish metal band styled after the American Civil War of 19th century. I'm not sure I get foreigner's fascination with one of the worst times in my country's history. But here they are. This is my first experience with Civil War, so for those who know the band, bear with me for a few words about their origins.
Civil Was started by four original members of Sabaton, Daniel Mullback, Rikard Sundén, Daniel Myhr and Oskar Montelius, when they bailed from the band in 2012. They hooked up with Nils Patrik Johansson, of Astral Doors fame, for a lead vocalist. They returned to their melodic power metal roots for their chosen musical style. Next, lyrically, the tell tales of war and warriors. Did I say four guys were original members of Sabaton? Yup. It appears there's a recurring theme here, and it is possible to reinvent the wheel.
As for the music, it's rather typical power metal and really requires no explanation. However, in combination with the lyrical themes, you may have difficulty shaking off the Sabaton vibe. Yet, if you like military history, Civil War becomes somewhat of a thinking man's heavy metal band. Though their name suggests the songs would be about that American war, Civil War speaks to a variety of persons and conflicts.
Some of these are self-explanatory like Braveheart (William Wallace), Schindler's Ark, Back to Iwo Jima or the Bay Pigs, the failed invasion of Cuba by rebels financed by the American government. Some need a little explanation like Admiral Over The Ocean which concerns Nelson and the sea battle of Trafalgar or Tears of the North, about Vikings in Russia. Two songs speak specifically to the American civil war: USS Monitor, about the first ironclad steamship created by the Union Navy and Gods and Generals. The intent of the latter is more sketchy; it could have something to do with the Jeffery Shaara novel of the same name. My digital promo came with a lyric sheet which was helpful. I'm sure the lyrics will be in the CD booklet.
Again, all these things are wrapped up in melodic heavy and power metal: good melody and harmony, quick pacing, flourishes of synths, and lots of guitar solos. The wild card here is probably Johansson's voice. He has the gruff sandpaper style which, for me, has always taken some to time to appreciate. Overall, Gods And Generals is solid, if not typical, European power metal, with the thoughtful militry history lyrics the strong feature, though this is not novel either. Recommended.
Gods And Generals is solid, if not typical, European power metal, with the thoughtful militry history lyrics the strong feature, though this is not novel either.
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