Returning to Milwaukee for their fifth American tour in support of Iced Earth’s Worldwide Plagues tour, Sweden’s history-fueled power rockers, Sabaton, stormed the Eagles Ballroom l at the Rave/Eagles Club for an explosive night of heavy metal action.
Following stellar performances and autograph signings by Danish power metal outfit, ReVamp, and Milwaukee locals, Conniption, the lights in the Rave faded to black. An orchestral tune reminiscent of a Roman war epic soon pierced the darkness. Cheers erupted from the crowd as fans recognized the annual show opener, The March to War.
As the tune revved up in intensity, a hazy blue light suddenly shined on the stage revealing a shadow behind the drum kit. With a thunderclap, drummer Hannes van Dahl made his presence known while the rest of the band remained out of sight. Distorted guitars soon took control of the mesmerizing tune for a few moments before the commanding voice of singer, Joakim Broden, thundered through the venue.
“All right, Milwaukee. We are Sabaton and this is Ghost Division!”
Storming the stage in a flash of bright lights like a commando raid, the urban camouflaged men of Sabaton took the stage to a roaring applause. Feeding off the energy of their fans, Sabaton darted across the stage at every chance, stopping only to strike a pose for a fan or deliver a punishing guitar solo.
Longtime fans sung along as Broden sang of Erwin Rommel’s famed seventh Panther Division, nicknamed the Ghost Division. At the conclusion of Ghost Division, the crowd was roaring for more. Broden and his troops were quick to deliver the fan favorites, “Gott Mit Uns” and “Carolus Rex,” a pair of songs delving into the history of Sweden as a European imperial power.
Following the conclusion of another fan favorite, “40-1,” Broden took a moment to speak to the fans, citing Americans as some of the craziest and open minded fans in the world for the ferocity of their cheers and acceptance of a foreign band “dressed something like the village people.”
Sharing a laugh with his fans, Broden became serious once more and remarked that Americans are one of the few nations Sabaton has had the pleasure to tour with that knows their history so well. As a special treat, Broden asked the crowd if they would like to hear something from their upcoming album, “Heroes.” The crowd erupted with cheers and devil horns, leading Broden to ask if they knew the name Audie Murphy.
As Broden told a short story of America’s most decorated soldier in World War II, patriotic fans craving another history driven metal assault erupted in chants of “USA! USA! USA!” Sabaton answered their calls with a tribute to Murphy’s combat prowess entitled “To Hell and Back.”
Playing just eight songs in all, Sabaton scored a major victory on playing some of their best known songs including their magnum opus, “Primo Victoria.” They no doubt scored a handful of new fans. But it was off the stage that Sabaton truly shined. Despite suffering from a fever, singer Joakim Broden not only delivered a high energy performance that included giving his trademark sunglasses to a young fan, but he joined his band mates for an autograph signing after the night’s main act and even conversed with a few lucky fans outside of the tour bus.
Living up to their lyric “the best heavy metal comes from the north,” Sabaton delivered not only an excellent show but displayed a genuine sense of dedication and appreciation for their work and their fans with guitarist Chris Rörland declaring:
“When you’re on stage you forget your ailments. It’s time to rock.”