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Sabaton, the Power Metal contingent from Falun, Sweden, brought their songs of warfare, heroism and self-sacrifice to Roseland Theater in Portland, Oregon. Through the years they have fully embraced their role as a powerful force within the Modern Metal world. They are out promoting their latest release, the WWI-inspired, The Great War. Co-headlining the tour, Swedish Heavy Metal veterans, Hammerfall, were on-board promoting their latest album, Dominion, rounding out what would be an epic night of war fatigues, fist-pumping and sing-a-longs throughout the night.

Somewhere between the bands, Manowar and Rainbow lives the heroes of traditional Heavy Metal, Hammerfall.  They opened the night with the fast and furious, “Never Forgive, Never Forget” a song that vocalist, Joacim Cans penned about the horrific struggles of the Vietnam War.  As warfare was a major theme of this tour, it was an impeccable way to start off the night.  As the show pressed on, Hammerfall continued unveiling songs from their vast catalog.  They jumped into 2014’s (r)Evolution with the fitting anthem, “Hector’s Hymn,” a recollection of the band’s past while charging into the future.  Guitarist and band founder, Oscar Dronjak, held his hammer-shaped, six-string guitar above his head and with every fist in the air, Hammerfall continued the night’s theme of gloriously, epic anthems including “Hammer High” off the album, Built to Last.  Hammerfall was about to come to an end but not before calling on every voice in the venue to help them pay tribute to their homeland with the 80’s hard-rock inspired, “(We Make) Sweden Rock.”  Cans pointed to the sky and back to the audience, who have all but lost their voices by the time they came to the song that would end the night, Hammerfall’s most famous hit, “Hearts on Fire,” off the definitive album, Crimson Thunder.

As darkness rolled into Roseland Theater, the silhouette of a full-sized tank appeared on stage wrapping itself around the drum riser.  Sabaton, a band who fiercely celebrates the heroism that stems from the violent, war-torn subject matter behind their albums, selflessly played a public-service announcement asking the audience to support the creation of a National World War I Memorial in Washington D.C. before beginning their set.  Incredible.

Donning their black and white camo fatigues, the Swedish Power Metal battalion Sabaton stormed the stage and opened with “Ghost Division,” off their album, The Art of War; an anthem about the 7th Panzer Division and the German invasion of Belgium and France.  The night would be a history lesson of wars past and the heroes that have risen through all sides of violent conflict across the globe.  Sabaton continued their auditory assault with “Great War,” a song detailing the bravery and heroism as well as the horrors of World War I.  They played a monumental set spanning their nearly 15 year career.  Vocalist, Joakim Brodén took up guitar duties and joined his fellow Axe-men, Chris Rörland and newest addition, Tommy Johansson for the fan favorite, “Resist and Bite,” from the album Heroes while the audience before them fought valiantly to hold their position against the barrage of fists and flailing bodies advancing forward towards the stage.

The victoriously-charged marching anthems, “Carolus Rex” from the album of the same name, as well as “Primo Victoria” were played to the excitement of fans of all ages, including a child who stood only a foot taller than the barricade accompanied by his parents. To the delight of Brodén at having such a young fan in the audience, he gave him the pair of sunglasses he was wearing during the performance as a souvenir.  They finished their occupation of Roseland Theater with the song, “To Hell and Back,” another fan favorite and this one killed. One amazing performance with two incredible bands that gave it their all on Monday night.

As the dust settled, I noticed a group of dedicated fan's amassed near Hammerfall's merchandise booth.  I rushed over for a chance to meet and greet these legends and the experience failed to disappoint.  Hammerfall went so far as to make sure that every single fan who wanted a photo or something signed got their wish (even after the venue closed).  I was one of the faithful who waited patiently to have the honor of shaking the hands of my heroes and was literally the very final person in line, to prove to them that yes, I was the Last Man Standing.  Both Sabaton and Hammerfall are a force to witness live. Their tour was as much as a display of reverence as it was compassionate. Go for the epic performance. Go for those that came before you. And if all else, go for the tank.


Raul Soria Jr.

Photojournalist - Portland

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