Civil War - The Killer Angels
Despotz Records
Heavy/Power Metal
11 songs (50:32)
Release year: 2013
Civil War, Despotz Records
Reviewed by Aleksie
After leaving the ranks of the Swedish war machine Sabaton, guitarist Rikard Sundén, guitarist Oskar Montelius, drummer Daniel Mullback and keyboardist Daniel Mÿhr did not wait for long before reactivating and getting on with the metal. Joining up with bassist Stefan "Pizza" Eriksson and singer of Astral Doors & Lion’s Share, Patrik Johansson, the dudes put together Civil War and their debut EP way back late last year. Soon enough in 2013, they had forged their debut LP, The Killer Angels. The album does not share the absolute war/battle-centric history thematics of Sabaton, but tackles a wider, more traditional field of metalness from the devil and Judas to ruling the universe. This is of course a welcome deviation from their past. Musically, The Killer Angels is also more straight-forward in its heavy rockingness. It’s more riff-centered and not as pomped-up with massive keyboard blasts (ok, a few keyboard blasts in there, but not as much).

A definite plus for the record is the participation of Johansson, one of the most impressive metal singer’s I’ve heard in the past decade. The material I’ve heard of him with Astral Doors has mainly convinced me of the high quality of his Ronnie James Dio-leanings, but here he spices things up. In addition to the deeper timbre, he utilizes a bit of a snarlier tone that I haven’t heard from him before. As you’d expect from an instrumental core as experienced as this one, the playing on this album is really solid, from the galloping rhythmics to the soloing. Therein probably lies the most notable strength and biggest weakness of this album overall – it’s really solid, and that’s about it.

The Killer Angels is a classic example of everything you meet at face value sounding good, production values all balanced, performances locking in…but in simple terms of songwriting and the hooks that should pull you in neck deep, there’s just not much that exceeds the norm. A few tunes such as King of the Sun and Rome Is Falling have notable fist-pumping potential, while the Celtic flavours of Saint Patrick’s Day nicely recall the emerald-branded pounding of Gary Moore’s style of 1980s hard rock. But beyond that, considering that the album is packed with over 50 minutes of hard-charging metal, there’s not much catching onto me. The only notably special thing that consistently hits me is Johansson’s voice and it’s just not enough to pull the largely average compositions to greater heights.

Usually I’d wrap things up here, a record just isn’t cutting the mustard in my ears, etc. but I’ve heard so many of my metal-digging buddies praise this album and other “professional” reviewers such as myself giving it nines out of ten, that I’ve had to wonder extra what it is that I’m seemingly not getting. Easily enough I could just chalk it up to subjectivity but for some reason I haven’t here. Repeated listen upon listen, but I’m not finding the hidden gears that would wow me. So all in all, anyone into some traditional power-leaning, turbo-charged metal should give this one a chance as there seems to be a considerable case out there in favour of Civil War's skillfully crafted debut that I’m just not agreeing with. Take this as a rare external recommendation.
Killing Songs :
King of the Sun, Rome Is Calling & Saint Patrick's Day
Aleksie quoted 67 / 100
Other albums by Civil War that we have reviewed:
Civil War - Gods and Generals reviewed by Alex and quoted 82 / 100
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