Civil War_Gods and Generals1Civil War bears an amusingly ironic moniker as they’re made up of four fugitive members of Sabaton who fled the mother ship and essentially created Sabaton‘s evil twin band. They even appropriated the exact same sound, song structure and overdone military/battle shtick before launching a struggle for Cheesy War Metal supremacy using their former act’s own sound against them. While it’s still startling to hear how completely they’ve ripped off Sabaton‘s sound, and to many it may seem exceptionally bush league, I suppose the former members feel as entitled to it as anyone. Their The Killer Angels debut was decent, but didn’t really win me over to their side. Gods and Generals takes the same approach, but jacks up the schlock factor and charges full speed ahead, damning the torpedoes and criticisms of unoriginality along the way. Whether or not that fits in your foot locker is a highly subjective question.

Opener “War of the Worlds” certainly shows these cats can play the war game and play it well. It’s a fist pumping barn burner designed to make you enlist and it gets things off to fine start. It packs in heavy doses of keyboards alongside the chunky riffing and established the same wall of sound you’ve heard before by a certain someone. This is the best song on Gods and Generals and it’s as good or better than anything on the last Sabaton album. “Bay of Pigs” also delivers the martial punch with a song bigger than the battle it examines. I especially like the vaguely Russian sounding segment at 3:20. The title track is a punchy, moving song about the dilemma faced by many soldiers in the American Civil War, knowing they would be crossing swords with friends and even family and the writing makes the material stick.

Elsewhere, “The Mad Piper” incorporated bagpipes for a bombastic winner that reminds a bit of Edguy and Avantasia, “Back to Iwo Jima” conjures the best of Sabaton‘s adrenaline addled charm, and “Schindler’s Ark” is an interesting blend of WhiteSnake-like hair metal and their typical overblown war-themed bombast.

There are some land mines here though that undermine what is a pretty respectable platter. “Braveheart” demonstrates why there should never be a Braveheart inspired musical, because that’s what this is: A Broadway ready retelling of the epic William Wallace saga, and let me tell you straight up, medieval warfare, sing alongs and jazz hands do NOT go well together. That said, the chorus itself is quite catchy and memorable, and if I could just get the images of dancing Scots out of my head, I might love it. “Admiral Over the Seas” exists in that grey zone between good and bad, and while it isn’t bad enough to skip, it doesn’t add much to the album. Since things feels a bit long at 56 minutes, it wouldn’t have killed anyone to drop this one off entirely.

Civil War_2015a

The main difference between Civil War and their progenitor are the vocals of Nils Patrick Johansson. While his “Dio in a ball vice” approach is a love or hate proposition, I’ve enjoyed his work with Astral Doors, Wuthering Heights and Lion’s Share, and though he sounds a bit more shrill here, he does a good enough job fitting in amongst the cheese metal fury. The rest of the band does their duty too, with some nice guitar work from Rikard Sunden, Oskar Montelius and Petrus Granar and some exceptionally cheese-tastic keyboards from Daniel Myhr.

Now, let me also take a moment to address something about their image that troubles me. As a student of American history and a citizen of the United States, I take issue with the band wearing Civil War era Union and Confederate army uniforms in their promo photos and videos. It’s one thing to wear generic military uniforms, but I find it exceedingly distasteful and disrespectful to take the uniforms from one of the darkest period of American history and pimp them out for a “cool” look. A word of warning to the band: you might just run into trouble if you wear those uniforms on stage while touring southern segments of the U.S.. But I digress.

While I’m not sure the world needs two clone bands spouting overly dramatic power metal tales of battles, bravery and brotherhood, Gods and Generals is as good as the last Sabaton outing, so who’s to say Civil War shouldn’t have a place in the war room. If you like what their predecessor band does, it almost guarantees you’ll get behind at least some of this. I guess metal fans can deal with a two-front war for the time being.


Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 192 kbps mp3
Label: Napalm Records
Websites: civilwar.se | facebook.com/Civilwarsweden
Release Dates: EU: 2015.08.05 | NA: 05.12.2015

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  • Iskandar

    “Tanks” for the war puns, General Steel…

  • CarvedInStone

    I like this and their debut better than Sabaton’s last album. Coat Of Arms and Carolus Rex were great albums but Heroes was really disappointing and a step-back for Sabaton. But Civil War pick up their slack. Despite their their sound being similar Civil War does have the better sound and in my opinion the better lead singer.

    And why the hell do they need three guitar players other then for a better live sound? It makes no sense for Iron Maiden and much less for these guys.

    • I think it’s all about creating that “wall of sound” that Sabaton made semi-famous.

      • CarvedInStone

        But Sabaton don’t even have 3 guitar players. In the end it doesn’t matter though as one of their guitar players (one of the two ex-Sabaton dudes) left the band after recording the album.

        • hubcapiv

          Maybe that’s why they needed three in the first place. When your band is composed of guys who have been kicked out of/left other bands, I suppose it’s wise to have a spare guitarist. Never know when it might happen again.

          Why do I need a fifth tire in my trunk…

          • CarvedInStone

            I get that you might have someone on stand-by if you know that one of your guys is going to leave at some point.

            But to my knowledge they recorded the whole album with the third guy and while I listened to it I couldn’t really tell the difference to the last album when they had 2 guitar players.

            I don’t think there has ever been a band that used the 3-guitarist constilation in a way that you could tell whether it was recorded with two or three guitarists.

          • rocksteve

            What kind a review is this? You can tear apart every band and say they were influenced by bands before them. It will never end. Civil War tried some various themes and swing to the music and it works. This is a bad cd!! Come on. Let me know when it gets good.

          • Have you heard Sabaton? This is them with a different singer.

  • Kryopsis

    To be honest, up until ‘Carolus Rex’ I always found Sabaton to be extremely derivative and silly, due in part to Joakim Broden’s heavily-accented drivel about past wars and crap. ‘Carolus Rex’ was the band’s greatest achievement and if ‘Heroes’ is anything to go by, it may also be the only one. The inclusion of Astral Doors’ Neal Patrick… err Nils Patrik Johansson on vocals automatically makes ‘Civil War’ the superior band in my opinion. His Dio-by-way-of-Udo-Dirkschneider vocals are very distinctive and despite all the theatrics, I quite like his performance.

  • Maese Delta

    The song Braveheart makes me think of using it as background sound for a puppet video about the revolt led by William Wallace.

    That’s for my weird Maesian thought for today, which was caused after discovering Haken’s video ‘Cockroach King’. Thus, I will always imagine the vocalist as a puppet, even though he does a more serious/awesome performance in other songs.

  • Martin Knap

    I want to start a band that would be all about the Bolsheviks and their glorious feats. Maybe to sing about the revolutionary days of the glorious Chinese Communist Party would also be cool (“Power Comes From The Barrel Of A Gun” or “Revolution Is Not A Tea Party” – perfect song titles) – and I could aim at the eastern market with that.

    • basenjibrian

      I think a KICKSTARTER campaign awaits your genius, Mr. Knap!
      You could call the band something like The Dead Maos or Gulag Kings!

      • Martin Knap

        Thx, I’ll think about a cool name… (three word names are more trendy these days)

    • MrEvilNES

      I would definitely support that. Some name like “Motherland” or “Warriors of Stalingrad” would be awesome.

  • Monsterth Goatom

    Regarding the uniforms, I had somewhat of a similar reaction to the cover of Will of the Ancients’ To our Glorious Dead. Maybe I’m missing the statement that the band was trying to make, but portraying World War I British and/or Canadian troops as spaced-out zombies rubbed me the wrong way. On the one hand, the album is supposed to honour the sacrifices of said troops; on the other hand, the artwork appears to dishonour their memory for the sake of an edgy cover design.

  • Scorpion

    Where is Grymm? Mr. Druhm’s bringing too much cheese these days :(

    • Grymm

      Oh, I’m still here with my soon-to-be-patented Cheese Incinerator, which may or may not look like a microwave!

      I have some things in the works, so do keep your eyes peeled.

  • Wilhelm

    “but I find it exceedingly distasteful and disrespectful to take the uniforms from one of the darkest period of American history and pimp them out for a “cool” look.”

    It’s theatrics and goes hand-in-hand with the source material, so I don’t see the big deal, it’s like getting angry at Manowar for disrespecting the crusades.

    • I guess that’s the risk you run when you use those kind of subjects lightly. I mean, we all are used to, say, the anti-christian subjects that are par for the black metal course. But I bet more than a few get the same kind of reactions when Nergal decides to rip a bible apart just in the name of spectacle.

      On one hand I think its a bit brilliant for them to turn the tables a bit. On the other I feel that when they chose precisely that subject for their costumes, it comes less from a social commentary side and it’s more of a gimmicky commercial ploy that wasn’t really thought out.

      • CarvedInStone

        I think there is a difference between ripping a bible apart and wearing uniforms of a state which started a war in part because they wanted to keep slavery legal.

        • Is there? Regardless of what we may feel towards each particular case (full disclosure: I’m neither Christian nor a resident of the USA) I think both have a cultural and historical baggage that shouldn’t be so easily dismissed.

          • I take issue with a bunch of swedes wearing US military uniforms to create a quasi-military image. The fact they take them from the Civil War makes it even worse. I just find I exceedingly distasteful and tacky.

          • And you have all the right to do so. I’m not debating that.

          • CarvedInStone

            So you don’t like their usage of us military uniforms because they’re not from the states or in general? Would you condone it if they wore blue uniforms?

            To me that wouldn’t be any different from how the dudes in Alestorm dress like pirates, the dudes in Powerwolf or Ghost using religious or horror inspired costumes and imagery or the guys in Dezperadoz dressing like cowboys. It is a gimmick.

          • I take issue with any band wearing US Military uniforms for a cool look or image, and the Civil War was one of the darkest periods of US history, so wearing uniforms from that time is particularly troubling to me. The fact they’re a bunch of swedes doesn’t help at all.

          • Wilhelm

            I see it the same way. I’m from the US and, to my knowledge, the only other metal band that has tackled the American Civil War was Iced Earth. This band is from Sweden which is a bit curious, but nonetheless kind of cool to see they at least acknowledge US History; they could sing about vikings and chose to be original, because no other Swedish band has ever done that.

          • Kryopsis

            To be fair, both German and Russian-style uniforms are routinely used by all sorts of artists looking for that military chic. I daresay WW2 happened a lot more recently than the US Civil War and is a much darker time in world history. I am not saying you don’t have the right to be offended but it seems like a rather minor point to me.

          • I’m talking about the darkest period in American history, not world history, and we lost far more people in the Civil War than we did in WWII. It was also the war to keep or destroy the country, so on a scale of importance to me as an American with an awareness of our own history, it dwarfs WWII. Therefore, I don’t like a bunch of foreign metal dudes wearing the uniforms from those times and taking it lightly. It’s enough to piss off a lot of people I know too.

          • Ariel

            I Found exceedingly distasteful and tacky that you refer to a part of your country’s history as “American History”. Maybe your history books should clarify that America is a Continent and not just one country up north. It’s so disrespectful to the rest of the continent…

          • Oh please, when was the last time you had to present yourself as “I am an american, from the continent, you know? not the country.”?

          • Those of us from the U.S. call ourselves Americans, and by that we don’t mean Canada, Central or South America. We mean the U.S. Not sure if that’s breaking news to you, but you can be offended all you want. That’s just how it is.

          • Ariel

            Sure! Call your arrogant ass whatever you want! Just don’t be a wimp about some band wearing an outfit they probably don’t have a clue what’s about…

          • Whatever you say, ace.

          • Arikael

            Well, it is metal, its meant to provoke, I’m quite suprised that somebody takes offence considering that everybody seems to be fine with the BM-Anti-Christian-tone (which is fine by me)
            There are so many bands which play with nazi-asthetic and nobody seems to be offended by that.
            And honestly, the civil war is “nothing “compared to WW2 neither in numbers nor in cruelty no matter how relevant it was for the US.

  • The Beargod

    Given all the other crap and all kinds of imagery (metal) bands have I find being offended with the whole Civil War imagery (fits their name a little better than a GMU, wouldn’t you say) silly.

    • Silly to you, offensive to me. I don’t like it at all.

      • Kryopsis

        You know, the more I think about it, the more this makes sense to me. While I am totally fine with Civil War using the American Civil War imagery, I think I understand your point. It probably ties into the tendency of many Europeans to constantly make fun of America and American culture. I can understand how the fact that a Swedish band would appropriate uniforms from a controversial moment of American history and stripping them of all connotations would bother you. Their failure to acknowledge the gravity of it all, I mean.

      • The Beargod

        I do see the point but I can’t bring myself to be offended by one uniform more than the other.

  • Excentric_1307

    Dude looks like a more metal Micheal Jackson.

  • Shawn Cypher

    They probably won’t run into any issues wearing Civil War uniforms in the States, especially the South. The South remembers the war pretty well, but I don’t think it would cause any issues. (I’m from the South)

    I think it’s kind of cool. However, I cannot appreciate this singer at all :(

  • Greg Hasbrouck

    I love Power Metal, but this is pure crap. The 3/5 is exceedingly generous.

  • Isaac VanDuyn

    So to be the singer in this fledgling genre of band, you have to wear mirrored sunglasses? Is it cheesy military power metal’s equivalent of corpse paint? I’d give this and Heroes both a 2.5. Carolus Rex is one of the best albums ever created but that’s about all I can get into from either of these bands.

  • Feeblejocks

    Hey, a band has finally managed to redeem the song name “Bay of Pigs” from that Acacia Strain atrocity! Awesome!

  • RodE

    I honestly haven’t met that many people ever that have cared so much about the American Civil War like you do as this review implies. I also find it very difficult to believe that this band will be touring the States any time soon so I don’t think these Swedes have much to worry about in that front. All that being said I respect where you’re coming from. I myself find this another great album by this band though I prefer the debut a tad more.