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Civil War - "The Killer Angels" (CD)

Civil War - "The Killer Angels" CD cover image

"The Killer Angels" track listing:

1. King Of The Sun
2. First To Fight
3. Saint Patrick's Day
4. Rome Is Falling
5. Sons Of Avalon
6. I Will Rule The Universe
7. Lucifer's Court
8. Brother Judas
9. My Own Worst Enemy
10. Gettysburg
11. March Across The Belts

Reviewed by on June 19, 2013

"...'The Killer Angels' is a high-energy album with an uplifting guitar tone and loads of catchy hooks."

When most of the members of Sabaton abruptly departed the band in 2012, it seemed like a blow had been dealt to power metal, until all those members came together to create their own take on the style. After recruiting Nils Patrik Johansson to provide vocals and Stefan "Pizza" Eriksson to pluck the bass strings, the project became known as Civil War - which is perhaps a reference to the lyrical subject matter, but it seems just as likely a statement on the schism that led to the group’s formation in the first place.

Civil War was nominated as one of the best newcomers of 2012 in our annual best-of awards off the strength of a self-titled debut EP. Now the full-length is finally here, and for fans of over-the-top and war-themed power metal, it won’t disappoint. While not necessarily a sunny or happy release, “The Killer Angels” is a high-energy album with an uplifting guitar tone and loads of catchy hooks.

As would be expected from these genre vets, there is great instrumentation overall and plenty of fantastic guitar/drum interplay, but there’s also a good deal of simplistic and perhaps even overdone material, like on opener “King of the Sun.” The focus is definitely on repeating chorus action, which is good for catchiness and memorability, but it also means there’s less crazy guitar sweeping or unique sounds.

The vocals are similarly a make-or-break element. Although not the standard high-pitched delivery of epic power metal, Johansson is still incredibly bombastic. If you are already a dedicated fan of his vocals, “The Killer Angels” may be more like a 4.0 or 4.5 album, but if they sound cheesy to you (as they do to this reviewer), the appeal will definitely be lessened. There is a more toned-down and soulful vocal delivery on “Saint Patrick's Day,” but on the whole, the album keeps the singing as over-the-top as it can get.

For Sabaton fanatics, checking out Civil War is a no-brainer, although anyone else may want to hear some samples first (like the “First to Fight” single we premiered online that can still be heard right here). It’s hard to fault a power metal band for being epic, since that’s what the style is all about, and if you dig your metal upbeat and all-encompassing, “The Killer Angels” will be right up your alley.

Highs: Power metal veterans producing high-energy and upbeat metal.

Lows: The vocals are a bit too over-the-top, and this definitely isn't groundbreaking new material.

Bottom line: Most of Sabaton took part in a power metal Civil War, and those left standing bring us this bombastic and catchy release.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)