Album Reviews

Civil War – Invaders Review

Released By: Napalm Records

Release Date: June 17th, 2022

Genre: Heavy/Power Metal

Links: https://www.civilwar.se

 

Line Up:

Kelly Carpenter – Vocals

Thobbe Englund – Guitars

Petrus Granar – Bass

Daniel Mÿhr – Keyboards

Daniel Mullback – Drums

 

 

Tracklist:

1. Oblivion

2. Dead Man’s Glory

3. Invaders

4. Heart of Darkness

5. Andersonville

6. Carry On

7. Soldiers and Kings

8. Warrior Soul

9. Slaughterhouse 5

10. Battle of Life

11. Custard’s Last Stand (Bonus Track)

 

 

A few years back I was beginning to wonder if we’d ever hear from Swedish heavy/power metal band Civil War again. Having completed their initial trilogy of concept albums, and with vocalist Nils Patrik Johansson departing from the band, it was easy to think their best times were behind them. So when the band dropped a new single called “Dead Man’s Glory” in 2019, I instantly perked up, and was quite impressed by the track, as it left me wanting to hear another full album from the band. Sadly, the band went quiet again shortly after that, but while it has taken them nearly another three years, they’ve finally unleashed their fourth full-length album, Invaders. Unsurprisingly, it is yet another banger of an album that fully lives up to my expectations!
Initially starting as somewhat of a “supergroup”, Civil War quickly proved themselves to be much more than that, delivering three fantastic albums before parting ways with Johansson.

Stylistically, they’ve always sounded like a slightly harder-edged version of Sabaton, with a bit more of a guitar-driven focus, and they also tend to experiment a bit more and so some pretty crazy things from time to time. Invaders feel like it cuts back on the latter slightly, not doing anything as unique or wild as the likes of “Tombstone” or “Braveheart”, instead of going for a more epic, melodic sound, where the guitars are still very prominent, though I notice the keyboards perhaps a bit more than on the past albums, and they can get very flashy at times, with keyboardist Daniel Mÿhr doing an excellent job as always. There doesn’t appear to be an overarching concept to Invaders, aside from the usual focus on historic battles, but I do notice a lot of the lyrics and music have a bit of a darker, more atmospheric feel to them a lot of the time, which is interesting. There are still plenty of upbeat, heroic moments and epic choruses, as expected, but tracks like “Oblivion”, “Heart of Darkness” and “Slaughterhouse 5” have a bit of a more mature, dark feel to them compared to normal, and despite being heavy as usual, it’s in a more laid-back kind of way, as opposed to being overly intense or energetic. This works very well, though, and the band pulls it off very impressively. Though stuff like the title track and “Battle of Life” is sure to get fans fired up as always, so there’s a good amount of variety to be found here.

There’s been a couple of lineup changes since The Last Full Measure, with the first of those being guitarist Johan Andersson being replaced by Thobbe Englund. Both have played with Sabaton in the past, which is of course in line with the band’s origins of mostly having former Sabaton members, so it’s no surprise Englund fits in perfectly with the band. The real change, though, is of course new vocalist Kelly Carpenter, who had huge shoes to fill in, to say the least. When I initially heard the band would continue without Johansson, I was a bit unsure whether or not anyone could fit the band’s sound nearly as well, but admittedly, I had more confidence when I had read the new vocalist would be Carpenter, as he has a very powerful voice and a sometimes very animated delivery, which I figured would work very well with the band. Despite my high expectations, though, I was still blown away immediately when I heard how fantastic he sounded on “Dead Man’s Glory”, and thankfully I can say he keeps up that high level of performance throughout the entire album, and has delivered easily his best vocals I’ve ever heard from him. He isn’t quite as dynamic a vocalist as Johansson, so fans shouldn’t expect to hear as wide a range of styles from him, but his voice is very strong, and he’s fantastic at delivering huge choruses, while also fitting in wonderfully during the more atmospheric sections, being great at either toning it down a bit when needed or going at absolute full blast, which is obviously what he most excels at. Overall, he’s a perfect fit for the band, and I hope he ends up sticking around for a few more albums.

The overall sound and performances are fantastic, as expected, but how does the songwriting hold up? Unsurprisingly, I’d say it’s quite strong, as always. As mentioned earlier, there isn’t anything overly wild or unexpected here, but there’s still plenty of variety to the tracks, and everything comes together quite nicely. The opening track “Oblivion” is quite interesting, as it does have the kind of high tempo and energy one would expect from an opener during the verses, but the chorus is quite somber and slows down the pace quite a bit, so the track ends up alternating between heavy verses and a rather soft, atmospheric chorus. It’s a very strong track, though, with epic symphonic backing throughout and Carpenter instantly stands out, with a strong, passionate vocal performance right out of the gate. He only sounds better on the previously mentioned “Dead Man’s Glory”, an upbeat, though rather mid-paced heavy metal track with a bit of a folk feel to some of the melodies. As opposed to the opener, it’s a very energetic track throughout, and while it isn’t overly heavy, it has some excellent guitar work, especially during a fantastic solo in the second half, but Carpenter proves to be the real star of the track, sounding intense and powerful during the verses, and then going all out to deliver phenomenal performance in the chorus, where he gets to display the full range and power of his voice. It’s very easy to see why the band chose this track as the first one they released with him behind the mic, as it’s a perfect showcase for his talents.

The title track is almost the opposite of “Oblivion”, having a bit of a dark feel during the verses, moving at a fairly slow pace with some crushing guitar work, before picking up the pace for a wild, epic chorus where the band goes full throttle, and it very much feels like a classic power metal track. It’s a fun, high-energy track, with excellent performances throughout, as well as another excellent solo. The pace slows down for quite a bit after that track, starting with “Heart of Darkness”, a more keyboard-driven, symphonic metal track with a strong dark atmosphere to it. The verses move at a nice pace, without fully speeding up, while the chorus is as huge as one would expect, despite having a sinister feel to it. Carpenter’s vocals are fantastic, once again, and while the track isn’t one of my favorites, it’s still very good. Next is the lone ballad of the album “Andersonville”, a song about an infamous wartime prison camp. It’s another track with a dark feel to it, and it has some strong symphonic elements and backing vocals, as well as some very nice melodic guitar work, with a hauntingly beautiful feel to it, and once again, Carpenter sounds fantastic, softening his voice up quite a bit, yet still being able to show off some of his power, especially the during the chorus, which is breathtaking.

I was expecting the pace to pick up after that track, but “Carry On” and “Soldiers and Kings” are both fairly mid-paced tracks, and both fall into melodic metal territory, with the former in particular having some very bouncy keys and it’s one of the most keyboard-driven tracks on the album, while the latter is slightly heavier, with an awesome guitar solo towards the end, but still has quite a bit of keyboard to it. Both are very melodic tracks overall, with excellent choruses and vocal melodies. The pace does eventually pick up again with “Warrior Soul”, a very classic power metal sounding track, with some of the heaviest riffs on the album, as well as frantic, pounding drums, and it’s easily the speediest track here, while also having another very strong, catchy chorus with fantastic vocals.

When I initially saw the name “Slaughterhouse 5” I was expecting something quite intense and heavy, but instead, it’s another very dark, somber, and atmospheric track. It does have a heavy main riff, as well as some very animated vocals from Carpenter, but it also has some haunting backing vocals, and some very atmospheric-sounding keys, which help set the tone for the track. The verses are quite moody and are very enjoyable, while the chorus is solid but not particularly memorable. It’s a great track overall, but not one of my favorites. The album ends with a re-recording of one of the band’s very first tracks “Custer’s Last Stand”, which is a great rendition of the track, but before that is the proper album closer, “Battle of Life”, which is one of my personal favorites. It’s a very epic, intense tempo power metal track, with a nice mix between heavy guitars and flashy-sounding keyboards. It moves at a fast pace throughout, with very energetic verses and a very powerful, intense chorus with some of the best vocal melodies on the entire album, especially during the final run-through where Carpenter gets to show off his voice.

When I first heard Civil War would try and continue after finishing their initial trilogy, and with a new singer, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but now that Invaders is here it’s safe to say, the band is still very much on top form! It’s not quite as wild or diverse an album as The Last Full Measure or Gods and Generals, but there’s still quite a bit of variety here, with some intense up-tempo power metal, some more relaxed melodic metal, and some more atmospheric tracks. New vocalist Kelly Carpenter fits in perfectly, delivering easily the best performance I’ve heard from him to date. Longtime fans should be very pleased with this album, as long as they give it a fair chance, and it would be an excellent starting point for newcomers. I think The Last Full Measure remains my favorite by the band, but this album isn’t far behind.

 

Ratings: 9/10

Written by: Travis Green

My Global Mind – Staff Writer

Travis Green is a Canadian based writer for My Global Mind, with a particular passion for power metal, as well as an interest metal in all its forms.

 

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