Civil War are a Swedish band rising from Daniel Myhr, Daniel Mullback, Oskar Montelius and Rikard Sundén, former members of Sabaton, their former backline tech, Stefan “Pizza” Eriksson (yes, dreams can come true) and Patrick Johnasson (Astral Doors and Lionshare)
‘King of the Sun’ opens with a quiet intro and bursts forth like an army coming over the hill, and once Patrik Johansson vox launch into the fray you realise you are in for something pretty damned special.
Double bass drums as rapid as Gatling gun fire opens ‘First to Fight’, a song that could probably slide into a Maiden set unnoticed. It’s lightning fast, surefooted and never misses a beat, with a voice that sounds like it’s grown hoarse yelling at the Viking Gods of war.
‘St Patrick’s Day’ for me is the best song on the album, but that’s probably my Irish DNA tugging, the Dropkick Murphy’s make me want to down Guinness and pick a fight too. This is an album that needs to be played loud, there is a lot going on in every song, the more you listen the more you hear. ‘St Patrick’s Day’ is a rebel call, there are choral backing vocals that fatten the sound without intruding, the guitar solos are surprisingly lacking in shred and to my mind are all the better for it, this song epitomises ‘less is more’.
‘Rome is Falling’ is rousing and strong, soaring and triumphant, an exercise in understated riffs and subtlety. Daniel Mullback killing his kit like volleys of arrows pounding the fortress gate opens up the frenetic ‘Sons of Avalon’ which, along with driving guitar riffs, has a rather tasty little keyboard solo in the middle.
If Napoleon Bonaparte was ever going to commission a song about himself then ‘I Rule the Universe’ would win the tender. The entire life of Napoleon in one rousing, epic, monumental, chorusing song, like many of the songs on this album it has an almost Wagnerian quality.
‘Lucifer’s Court’ is fast and furious and every note and beat placed with precision, this is one for the keyboard fans too. ‘Brother Judas’ could have been written by Ronnie Dio and the vocal is certainly RJD inspired, albeit without the Dragons and Rainbows. The guitars and keyboards are perfectly balanced to give a huge fat sound.
‘My Own Worst Enemy’ is as fast and furious as if the Hounds of Hell were nipping at their heels. Rikard and Oscar’s guitars drive the song along and there are some very nifty keys from Daniel Myhr.
For those interested in history you will probably have realised the album title has been stolen from ‘The Killer Angels’, the Pulitzer prize winning book about the battle of Gettysburg by Michael Shaara. ‘Gettysburg’ pays homage to that with another rousing call to arms, both historically and musically.
Final bonus track ‘March across the Belts’ is another in the Maiden vein and is a rather fine closer to be sure. If your bag is the likes of Rainbow, the Scorps, Maiden, Ronnie Dio, and/or the Dropkick Murphy’s there is something on this album for you. If you like history and heroic battle sagas of bravery and derring do then you’ll be very happy indeed. To me it made a refreshing change to the often ‘empty’ beer, women and lyrics of so many rock songs to have an album of intelligent, and it has to be said historically accurate, gems.
If I had to describe this album in one word? Epic? Yes, Epic would be the one.