Sabaton, live in London

Support: Delain, Battle Beast

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Slipknot no longer open their gigs with the immortal (sic), Enter Shikari plan to omit Sorry You’re Not A Winner from their set but still, seven years from its release, Sabaton persist in pummelling the London faithful with Ghost Division as soon as the show starts. But we wouldn’t have them any other way, right?

Sweden’s power metal pariahs have never stuck to convention; in a genre dominated by high-pitched wailing and bollocks about dragons and quests, vocalist/Action Man Joakim Brodén pumps his fists, demands chant-alongs and bellows along to the synth-laden pomposity in a fashion similar to Tom Hardy’s Bane. In a good way. That’s not to say he’s a crap singer, though – he nails that key change during Carolus Rex and spends the remainder of the set goading the crowd on and remaining the only man on Earth to wear sunglasses indoors and still look cool.

A gargantuan tank flanks the band and acts as a drum riser, providing the perfect platform for this hyperactive bunch to run up and down like valiant fleas in camo trousers. The Swedes’ war-inspired chunks of testosterone are each received with the utmost excitement; newer tunes like Smoking Snakes get just as much love as, say, 40:1. Oh, and we’re calling To Hell And Back to be the soundtrack for an upcoming Spaghetti Western.

Tonight sees Sabaton raid their back-catalogue a little more so than usual, providing mixed results. While it’s great to see them treat fans to rarities in the form of 7734, one can’t help but think they could have plundered a, well, better track. It’s not that 7734 is bad, but having it squashed between The Art Of War and Smoking Snakes shows how far the band’s sound has solidified since the Metalizer days.

This minor niggle aside, Sabaton proceed to clumsily mount London and dominate it for a good 90 minutes. The band dick about with a candy man-thong hurled on stage – ‘Candy posing pouch? You calling us posers, motherfucker?’, Joakim quips – and go through the inevitable motions of a jam session, treating punters to a bit of Michael Jackson and a Metallica singalong.

Night Witches rallies the troops for a splendid encore, firmly cementing its place in the setlist and – hopefully – presenting itself as a contender to kick Ghost Division from its opening slot. We’ll see. Primo Victoria ensures no human remains still and, well, that’s just the beauty of a Sabaton gig. Everyone comes together in nerdy harmony to drink beer, jump vertically and experience some of the boldest, brashest power metal on the planet.

Sabaton are a band who have worked their way up from the arse-end of the toilet circuit. Finally escaping that and playing to this many people is obviously still a huge deal for them – Joakim tears up at the end, letting down his hyper-masculine image for just a brief second. The band’s smiles encompass the entire venue, and we really cannot think of a better way to spend a Monday night. Bring on Bloodstock, eh?

Sabaton Setlist

Ghost Division To Hell And Back Carolus Rex Soldier Of 3 Armies Gott Mit Uns The Art Of War 7734 40:1 Far From The Fame Resist And Bite Smoking Snakes Swedish Pagans Uprising Night Witches Primo Victoria Metal Crüe

Alec Chillingworth

Alec is a longtime contributor with first-class BA Honours in English with Creative Writing, and has worked for Metal Hammer since 2014. Over the years, he's written for Noisey, Stereoboard, uDiscoverMusic, and the good ship Hammer, interviewing major bands like Slipknot, Rammstein, and Tenacious D (plus some black metal bands your cool uncle might know). He's read Ulysses thrice, and it got worse each time.