Civil War – Gods and Generals
Release Date: May 12, 2015
For the foreseeable future it will be difficult to talk about Sweden’s Civil War without mentioning or comparing them to Sabaton; after all, two-thirds of the latter formed the former back in 2012. Civil War‘s 2013 debut album, The Killer Angels, immediately assured fans the band would not stray too far from the history-based power metal band they had come to expect. The Killer Angels captured the essence of their Sabaton heritage while the addition of Astral Doors vocalist Nils Patrik Johansson gave them a new depth and dimension suitable to establishing their own identity.
Fast-forward two years, and Civil War is ready to unleash its sophomore effort, Gods and Generals. There have been subtle shifts in the band that mark Civil War’s evolution, but the new record is a logical continuation of The Killer Angels. The album has been complete and awaiting release since last fall. Founding guitarist Oskar Montelius has retired and bassist Stefan “Pizza” Eriksson has been shown the door. New guitarist and longtime collaborator Petrus Granar makes his official debut on Gods and Generals alongside Johansson, drummer Daniel Mullback, keyboardist Daniel Mÿhr, and fellow guitarist, Rikard Sundén.
“War of the World” opens the album setting a cinematic tone, before driving drums and riffing set the song racing forward in a hail of sonic bombast. “Bay of Pigs” offers more of a groove. Johansson’s Biff Byford-like vocal attack and Myhr’s backing keys give the song a Saxon meets Nightwish feel. There’s even a bit of thrashiness in the mix on this one. It is a bold and powerful track with tasty moments and nuances that make it memorable.
The piano riff that opens “Braveheart” makes the song feel like a stage production. The vocals and tempo are upbeat and massive. It is hard not to sing along. The chorus recalls something on might expect from U.D.O. Nice guitar-solo embellishments.
Bagpipes and military cadence drums create a somber atmosphere for “The Mad Piper” before the chorus quickly turns it into a comrades-in arms, raise-a-pint tavern chant. “USS Monitor” takes a heavier direction, balancing propulsive drums and big vocals against ambient keyboard work.
“Tears From the North” returns us to that fell of an epic stage production; a slow moody piece with Johanasson acting as balladeer. The rhythm rises and falls, building the emotive resonance of the song.
“Admiral Over the Oceans” has a galloping feel with another big chorus. The keyboards and guitar melody almost give the feel of crashing through heavy waves. A fantastic guitar solo here from Granar.
The band takes a mid-tempo approach on “Back to Iwo Jima”: Wonderful fretwork on this one with big vocal peaks that make the song feel mammoth. This is followed by the album’s darkest track, “Schindler’s Ark”.
Gods and Generals closes out in dramatic flair with the title track. Some of the band’s best individual instrumentation comes to life here. Heavy on harmony vocals and melody, Civil War thunders onward into battle.
Civil War has delivered an impressive sophomore effort with Gods and Generals. It is filled with sonic grandiloquence; an explosion of auditory bombast, laden with big hooks, memorable melodies, and intriguing historical tales. The record manages to balance intelligence with whimsy to create a powerful heavy metal gem.