Watch out world – Sabaton are coming!
Over a fearless 17-year campaign, Sabaton have shrugged off cynicism and mockery over their war obsession to stand as one of modern metal’s biggest names. And they’re only getting started…
Even though we pushed England a lot, people haven’t really believed in us,” confesses Sabaton bassist Pär Sundström.
“Yeah, because we were ‘power metal’!” exclaims frontman Joakim Brodén, as the pair collapse into laughter.
They’re the Swedish metallers with bombastic bravado who dress head to toe in camo, sing about historic battles, and play to hundreds of thousands of fans in mainland Europe. In the UK, however, Sabaton are a Marmite band, with metallers here either loving or loathing their always grandiose and often cheesy anthems. But eight albums in, they’re finally moving up in the UK, playing London’s Brixton Academy in 2017 to a capacity of nearly 5,000. It’s taken a decade for people to catch on.
“Booking agents would say, ‘Power metal!? Pssh!’” says Joakim. “I’m not offended by it, but it gives us the wrong associations. We don’t arrange our music like traditional power metal bands. We have more in common with bands like Accept.”
“It’s exciting for us in the UK now, when people told us to just give up here,” adds Pär. “If there is a challenge handed to us, we’re happy to do it.”
Indeed, Sabaton give the impression of being a well-oiled and unshakable machine, all thanks to these two men talking to Hammer today: Joakim and Pär, the only original members of Sabaton remaining since the band’s inception in 1999.
Even without his trademark shades and faux armour stage gear, Joakim looks badass: a burly, shaven-headed tattooed bloke with a cheeky laugh and a devil-may-care attitude. Long-haired, bearded Pär is softly spoken with a gentle demeanour – and a sensible head on his shoulders. It is the way they work together that has led to Sabaton’s success: Pär handles the organisational side – they do not have a manager – and Joakim writes the music.
“It is my job to make sure there is a goal, and that we reach it,” Pär says firmly. “We’ve always been innovative, because no one has ever told us how to solve problems. So we solve them ourselves.
“It’s the story of how a lot of things in Sabaton evolved,” he explains. “We have a Sabaton cruise: it started with a problem. It was too expensive to get from Sweden to Finland with the production, people and buses. So instead of booking space on the ferry, we booked the entire ferry and made something good out of it. Instead of a release party in a club, we made it into a one-day festival, which evolved into a three-day festival, which is now Sabaton Open Air. So we solve a problem, but not simply. We go all the way.”