Sabaton @ The Forum, London
12th January 2015
Review by Jarod Lawley
Photography by Graham Hilling
Returning to the UK after just a few weeks away, Sabaton strike the Forum again!
Opening up the evening, the Sabaton-approved Battle Beast (4/5) warm up the audience to boiling point with half an hour of pure heavy metal.
The recent video for “Madness” is aesthetically more akin to something you may expect to see in a slightly dirty Rihanna video than what you’d hope for a credible metal band to release, but as the six-piece confidently strut onto the stage, there’s no mistaking that they mean business.
All tracks are anthems that go down brilliantly, and vocalist Noora Louhimo prowls the stage triumphantly and dominantly, suggesting through her smoky, acrobatic screams that we may have found a new Rob Halford- albeit a pink corseted one.
After a short turn around, Delain (2.5/5) are preceded by their grand intro and walk out on to an icy blue stage.
Visually, the band is a bit of a mess. Front-woman Charlotte Wessels wears a white leather jacket with humorously long tassels and keyboardist Martijn Westerholt gives me the impression that he’d be more comfortable bobbing his head to pop tunes whilst stood on his multi-lighted riser.
Despite having at least thirty percent more black t-shirted bodies in the crowd, the Dutch crew really fail to rouse a stronger reaction than the previous band- leaving their performance feeling lacklustre, and making this five-piece look rather blown off stage.
Wessels appears to be struggling through the songs, as her voice thins out to an almost painful timbre in order to keep up with the melodic, pop-music-played-with-distortion brand of metal that Delain play.
To the boisterous and excited crowd, further roused by the sound of Sabaton’s (4/5) pre-show PA track, “The Final Countdown”, (which most audience members are too drunk to sing to properly), headlining performances from these Swedes are no rare occasion- the band played fellow North-London venue The Islington O2 Academy just eight days prior. Despite this, The Forum is packed to near its total capacity as the all bursts into action with the opening song, “Ghost Division”.
Still on the cycle of their seventh record, Heroes, the camo-clad crew deliver latest crowd pleaser “To Hell and Back” to much excitement, with wall-to-wall jumping and singing across the crowd. The storming “40:1” displays just how instantaneously catchy Sabaton’s anthems are, with typical European style synths lingering over solid guitar work.
New sticks-man Martijn Westerholt gives all songs a further push in terms of intensity with double kick flairs in all the right places, but most notable of all is the epic “tank drum riser”, that sits on top of the stage like a triumphant war memorial.
The set comes to a comedic pause, as a member of the audience throws an edible candy g-string towards frontman Joakim. As the band trade banter, (and also some of the sultry sweeties), all feels a little too pantomime and rehearsed, but certainly shows an interesting way to break up the set list.
All is soon resumed, and due to the rousing chant for “Swedish Pagans”, the pre-determined set list (not including said song) is torn in half heroically by bassist Pär Sundström, and the quintet launch into that unmistakable melody.
By the time the encore comes, Joakim’s Dickinsonisms and other dramatic stage manoeuvres are turned down a notch, and “Night Witches” feels rather tired- also reflected by the audience’s dwindling enthusiasm.
Despite this, “Primo Victoria” sees the expected hop-a-long, and the evening is bought to an old-school conclusion with “Metal Crue”. Although failing to end on a high, Sabaton still manage to successfully prove why they are a continually rising force, and the name on the tip of everyone’s power metal tongues.
1. Ghost Division
2. To Hell and Back
4. Carolus Rex
5. Gott Mit Uns
6. Soldier of 3 Armies
7. The Art of War
9. Smoking Snakes
10. Far from the Fame
11. Resist and Bite
12. Swedish Pagans
15. Night Witches
16. Primo Victoria
17. Metal Crüe