When Sabaton Faced Controversy, They Stuck to Their Guns
Throughout Sabaton’s career, the band has faced controversy, but despite being falsely labeled as Nazi sympathizers and facing pressure from an early record label to change their war-inspired lyrics, Sabaton have stuck to their guns.
Late last year, we met up with Sabaton’s Joakim Brodén and Pär Sundström in Brussels, Belgium to tour the Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History. As the two history buffs shared enduring stories from World War I and World War II (surrounded by tanks, artillery and fighter jets) Joakim and Pär explained how Sabaton have survived for over two decades to become one of Europe’s biggest bands.
From Sabaton’s very first song from their very first album, certain individuals have received the wrong impression of the Swedish band. “People thought it was a Nazi song, ‘Primo Victoria,’” Sundström told us before Brodén added, “The German distributor stopped it and we had to give them all the lyrics for the whole album before they would release it.”
“Primo Victoria,” which tells the story of the Allied invasion of Normandy, reads, “Through the gates of hell, As we make our way to heaven, Through the Nazi lines, Primo victoria.”
“They wanted to change it, but we did not change it,” Sundström says. Further pushing the issue, the label asked Sabaton not to put the word ‘Nazi’ in the intro of their second album. In response, Sabaton defiantly put ‘Nazi’ in the first verse of “Attero Dominatus.”
According to Sabaton, the controversy that sometimes surrounds the band has also ruined the potential for certain collaborations. “We had near-collaborations very often with various military factions, armories and stuff… but usually there’s some politician that stops it,” Sundström explains.
The bassist continues, “When Sabaton wrote a song about [the Holocaust], some people misunderstood it and thought Sabaton was a neo-Nazi band. Very uninformed. Some people just want to blame and hate and find errors because they don’t like Sabaton." “Ahh,” Brodén chimed in. “Pathetic keyboard warriors who will take offense on others’ behalf.”
Despite the hedgerows placed in Sabaton’s way, the band has risen to release three consecutive No. 1 albums in their home country while playing arenas filled with die-hard fans. They’ve also launched the successful Sabaton History channel on YouTube, sharing their fascination with wartime history with the world yet again.
For more stories on how Sabaton overcame controversy, plus wartime tales of asbestos-covered flame-throwing soldiers, dogs and bears of the battlefield, the disturbing use of “jam boys” by the British Empire and more, watch our exclusive mini-doc with Sabaton below. To grab a copy of Sabaton's newest album, The War to End All Wars, click here.