Civil War - Gods and Generals

Civil War Gods and Generals cover
Civil War
Gods and Generals
Napalm Records
Apparently with the butt of all jokes, Sabaton, becoming one of the biggest bands in Europe, no matter if their style is a bad mix of Manowar and Blind Guardian with lyrics about war events and a singer who makes, Grave Digger’s Chris Boltendahl, sound like effin Pavarotti, I guess anything goes, as far as metal goes. Relentless touring pays off its dividends in T-shirts and when the former instrumentalists of Sabaton, were let go, they decided to form their own band, pretty much keeping the musical style quite consistent with the earlier Sabaton material, while at the same time, upping their game a little by hauling in Nils Patrik Johansson (Lion’s Share, Astral Doors, Wuthering Heights) a singer, who sounds a bit like a hoarser Biff Byford, with a bit more range and a bad copy of Ronnie James Dio, with nowhere near the power and vocal prowess of the late D.
Not wasting much time since the release of their debut “The Killer Angels”, Civil War return with a second album, pretty much in the same direction as their debut. What strikes me as odd and did set me off, is the barrage of average tracks they choose to open the album with.
Opener “War of the World” is trying to sound bombastic, but in doing so, it fails to make its mark and Johansson, oversings a bit, but in a rather flat way thus not helping the song take flight.
Bay of Pigs” tries to be a bit more straight-forward, with a more sturdy rhythm and a somewhat better pre-chorus/chorus, while it even while it even “throws” in there a bit of Sol Bloom’s “Streets of Cairo”, classic melody – which has been sampled by a ton of artists, anyway.
Braveheart” is a bad “piano ballad” turned “epic track” via marching percussion, dropping in. It would have not seen the shrink-wrap of say – a Saxon album…
Somehow things begin getting a little better with “The Mad Piper” another Scottish themed song, that however is far from being great, it just sees Johansson, singing a lot more straightforward... which works much better.
USS Monitor” is much faster and has better verses and flow, thus being the first song, which I could say I sort of liked.
Tears from the North” begins with a piano intro worthy of the better days of Savatage or Rough Silk, very theatrical and majestic and manages, while I think it does sample bits and pieces from a well-known classical waltz and a bit of “The Temple of the King” twice in its duration, but still manages to come out on top sounding as epic as they come…
Admiral over the Oceans” is one of the better examples of the style, done well, with its epic chorus and pretty sturdy verses, really standing out.
Return to Iwo Jima” is another boisterous, marching epic hymnal tune and what makes me wonder, is whether it was some sort of commemoration this year – apparently yeah, it was the 70th anniversary, since also another band, Lancer, wrote a song, inspired by the same subject matter.
Schindler’s Ark” is another fair epic, slower and much darker in hue, which tries to capture the vibe, of Schindler’s selfless attempt to save, people from perishing, during WW2.
The title track is faster and while it’s not bad, it’s just not as good as the preceding “epic” pieces with its more Maidenesque gallop and predictable structure.
Knights of Dalecarlia” goes back to a more epic style with sweeping keyboards and impassionate vocals. While it’s more typical power metal, it sort of seems to work better than its predecessor, even if stylistically the differences are not too stark.
Lastly, “Colors of My Shield” is a heavy mid-tempo, that has someone else from the band trading vocal lines with Johansson, quite capably, I might say, to the point, where I might have liked it more if he (whoever that is) was more utilized in the songs. It’s epic and all, but the “oversinging” during the choruses, sort of creeps back, making it a little cringe worthy.
Basically, it’s weird, how, getting a “better singer”, Civil War, manage to sound like a second rate Sabaton... I cannot blame, the band or the album, there is a certain quality right there, along with a bunch of nice anthemic songs, but the whole polemic lyrical content, even from a retrospective, historical view, does become a bit overbearing and one sided after a while. Fans of Sabaton and similar bands, might like them, but I can’t say I’m hugely impressed. I mean, if I see people claiming this is some sort of masterpiece, then it truly means, that the word, has completely lost its meaning...