VERSUS: Carolus Rex vs Bible of The Beast

VERSUS: Carolus Rex vs Bible of The Beast

Welcome to Versus. The series where we look at two albums in metal history, compare them, and see which one was the better record.

In this edition of Versus, we are tackling the epic and grandeur of power metal. Today, we are looking at two of the biggest rising bands in the genre. One band, a Swedish band suiting up to ride onto the battlefield delivering a military-version of power metal. The other, a German band taking the viciousness and grandiosity of the genre, while chanting the hymns of angels and demons. Grab your armor and cross, we're entering the battlefield in a matchup I'm calling "The War of The Wolves".

In this corner, we have Sabaton with the band's sixth studio album, 2012's Carolus Rex. A concept album based on the rise and fall of the Swedish Empire, the album was one of the band's biggest, showcasing the band's "War Metal" themed lyrics and power metal riffing onslaught. Breaking the top 30 of the UK Rock & Metal Albums chart and the US Heatseekers. What do these soldiers of war bring to this matchup with their opponents? Let's hit the trenches and give this a listen.

Following the opening intro "Dominium Maris Baltici", the album kicks off with the track "The Lion From The North". Guitarists Oskar Montelius & Rikard Sundén start with a fast, up-tempo riff with pounding reverb heavy drums by Daniel Mullback. Joakim Brodén's vocals lead with a deep, baritone voice with the force and depth of a general leading his troops. Powerful choir vocal layering and relentless double bass and snare strikes hit strong during the chorus. Pär Sundström's bass brings the tempo down and leads the musical break, along with choir vocals amidst Mullback's drum strikes. I love the keyboard solo by Daniel Mÿhr right before the final chorus. On "Gott mit uns", Sundström's bass leads on the verse, as the guitars rejoin and the grandeur amplifies into the chorus. Brodén's vocals are fierce and strong, with guest vocals from Peter Tägtgren of Hypocrisy on the track. Creating a nice vocal combo. The song almost has a folk metal feeling in some of the guitar playing, similar to something you'd hear on a Korpiklaani record.

The atmospheric guitars and reverb-heavy drums start off "A Lifetime of War". With a somber string arrangement, Brodén delivers a remorseful and saddened vocal performance. Chronicling the misery and death caused by war. The kick drum hits HARD when it comes in, along with the ringing guitars. A HUGE choir joins him on the chorus, creating an almost movie score like production number in its sound and mix. An emotional song, showing the band can deliver heavy in a somber, almost power-ballad sounding track. The guitar solo is a nice touch, especially with the chugging riff and double kick underneath it. One of my favorite tracks off the album. "1648" opens with a Mullback drum fill, and then we return to the classic heavy metal sounding guitars, with Sundström providing a groovy bass line. Brodén returns to his commander-style voice delivery as the song continues in it's driving force. The chorus instantly has me picturing the fans singing along and pumping their fists along to the track. I love Brodén's vocals on the track, he has elements of the previous song's more restrained vocals, while also leading the charge in his commanding voice. Pipe organs open "The Carolean's Prayer". The aggressive New Wave of British Heavy Metal opening riff hits so strong with the snare hits. The epic scale of the track, from the choir vocals and the production of the guitars, just make the song sound so grand in scale. This over six minute piece is such a strong piece, and with the concept and layering in the mix, it sounds so good in the right pair of headphones. And with the riff and snare hits, you are instantly banging your head along throughout.

The album's title track opens with an ominous build of effects. With rising synths, drums come in with a tribal-like build, before joining guitars accent the drumming. I adore the choir vocals singing along with the guitar pieces in-between the vocals. Brodén is belting to the rafters in his vocal performance, trying to match the epic scale of the choir behind him. Mullback is constant with his war-time drum strikes throughout the verses, especially with little drum fills before the chorus. Montelius & Sundén lead a driving, chugging and instant headbang along riff throughout the entire track. "Killing Ground" instantly starts with an Iron Maiden-esque riff and galloping accenting riff beneath it as the drums match the pace. Montelius & Sundén's riff is so damn catchy, and the guitar solo out of the chorus back into the riff will instantly hook any classic heavy metal fan. Brodén matches the energy and delivery of the riff, especially in the catchy chorus. Mullback's kick drum and low-mixed choir let Brodén showcase his vocals in the bridge. My favorite track off the album. With digital effects and an ominous build, "Poltava" starts right back into a heavy palm-muted power metal riff. Bass and drums hold down the fort during the verses, before the doubled guitars fill the mix with a nice, heavy sounding riff. Another song with an instant headbang along riff in the chorus, then transitioning to banging along to the snare strikes of Mullback. I love the keyboard solo around the three quarters mark, with that booming and chugging riff underneath it sounding so deep and heavy. On "Long Live The King", we get a gritty opening guitar riff with foreboding and longing choir vocals beneath it. Strings join the party in this slower paced track. Brodén is at his best on the track. He has grit, power, sorrow and other emotions throughout the vocals on the song, especially going into the chorus. A very impressive and technical guitar solo, going into building strings to the chorus, is such a strong closing section of the piece. The album's closer "Ruina Imperii"starts with heavy bass string section as violins begin to rise. War drum like strikes echo behind it, before keyboards and the rest of the band match the strikes. A slower paced song, but still heavy and dark in its tone and performance, it fits the theme of the end of war as this war-loving Swedish band return home as the album comes to a close.

Their opponents, are German power metal act Powerwolf with the band's third album, 2009's Bible of The Beast. Cited as one of the band's best record, these German's take on power metal, adding humor and ferocity in its sound, while also creating catchy metal songs mixed with the bombastic sound of the genre. It would also be the start of the band's popularity beginning to rise and becoming a force of an almost new wave of power metal, along acts like Dragonforce and their opponents today. So let's head into the wolves' den and see if these Lycans have the power to top their opponents today?

After the opening orchestral and chorus intro "Opening: Prelude To Purgatory", the album officially begins with the track "Raise Your First, Evangelist". Vocalist Attila Dorn and a huge choir behind him open the track. The building guitars of Matthew & Charles Greywolf lead in the crusading charge of lyrical themes of holiness. The combo of double bass and drum mix of drummer Stéfane Funèbre and organist Falk Maria Schlegel amplifies the grandeur in the band's sound, especially leading into the chorus. Dorn belts his heart out, and the booming choir behind him, gives him a call-to-arms feel in his vocal delivery. I like the organ and choir accompaniment going into the bridge of the song, transitioning into the dueling harmonies and driving bass beneath the track towards the close of the song. Following that is "Moscow After Dark", a slower, more mid-tempo track compared to the album's opener. Dorn's vocals are very operatic in his performance, with the groove and bounce of the riff and drums beneath him going along with his performance. Schlegel's organ adds that church-like grandiosity. I love the pulsing guitar near the end of the song, as Funèbre's drums add punch to the closing moments. On "Panic in The Pentagram", the uneasy and dark opening clean guitars, led by Dorn's evil and brooding vocals, segue into dueling guitar harmonies straight out of classic New Wave of British Heavy Metal. A more straightforward metal track. There is moments of the organ in the background, but it is very classic heavy metal sounding song. Almost straight out of the 80's in its production and play style. The song almost double times near the three quarters mark. Aggressive guitar solo and driving double bass pick up the song's energy, before returning to the uneasy and eerie-like opening of the song, before one last closing chorus.  

"Catholic in The Morning...Satanist at Night" opens with a commanding and echoing ringing guitar, before the riff intensifies and a high vocal yell almost on the level of Rob Halford. The chugging riff is instantly headbob-inducing, especially with the little break for the organ to ring in-between the verse break. The anthemic, almost hymnal sound of the vocals, really does give the feeling of church and holiness in the scale of the music. The punk sounding sped up drumming kicks up the tempo and aggression. With the guitars doubling in duel harmony, along with the chanting of "Catholic" and "Satanist", instantly creating a feeling of riling up the mob in an anti-Satan fury. "Seven Deadly Saints" opens in an almost Broadway acapella section, before the driving, galloping style riff comes in. With verses continuing the theatrical delivery and a fist-pumping riff behind it, the song channels the theatrical grandeur of a stage show. The haunting opening vocals of "Werewolves of Armenia" continue the theatrics. With accompanying strings behind Dorn's belting vocals, the song pumps up into Funèbre's drums leading the track. The riff is very reminiscent of Amon Amarth in its sound. The double bass has some punch, but almost gets buried in the mix by the sheer scale of the vocal chants and the dominating riff.

"We Take The Church By Storm" opens with a ringing organ and a military-esque drum roll. The heavy, thrash metal opening riff and guitar strikes, kicks the door open as the verses kick in. Vocals are strong and drenched in reverb, adding more power and depth. The Greywolfs are just relentless in their speed and riff delivery. Delivering thrash-infused power, along the likes of fellow countrymen Blind Guardian. The vocal layering is so epic in its sound and production on the track. The church bells and screams start of "Resurrection By Erection". With a catchy organ melody and classic heavy metal sounding guitars, the song is upbeat in its tone. The combo of kick drum and organ adds such a good call-and-response live feel I bet live. Double bass is powerful in the mix, matching the aggression and speed of the guitars on the chorus. "Midnight Messiah" opens with a similar theatrical delivery in its opening vocals. I do like the epic scale of the track, as the chorus just keeps upscaling itself with new layers upon layers of vocals. The guitars instantly make me think of Iron Maiden at certain parts with its dueling, ringing harmonies. "St. Satans Day" starts with eerie, forboding vocals and a light drum roll. Giving off the feeling of a walk to the gallows. Then, the powerful choir vocals kick in, with matching guitar and drum strikes. I love the guitar solo section right before the three quarters mark, with the reverb-heavy drums behind it. Delivering some punch and gravitas behind the solo. The album's closer "Wolves Against The World" opens with a grand organ solo by Schlegel. Dorn's vocals sound so anthemic and preacher-like in his delivery with grit in his vocals. An anthemic, sing-along track for the crowd to sing to the rafters. A grand finale to one of the best albums.


After listening to both albums, and seeing the destruction of tanks and wolves on the battlefield, who stands tall as the winner of this war? For me, I will declare the winner to be Sabaton with Carolus Rex. I do like both bands equally and both records were enjoyable to listen to. They had that classic power metal riffing I love in the genre and the grandiosity of symphonic elements. It came down to what album would I re-listen to right after it finished. And Sabaton's record had me hit the replay button again. The record had better peaks and valleys than Powerwolf's record. Both bands are very talented and truly are some of the newer rising names in power metal and are definitely worth a deep dive into their discographies if you have not heard of either band.

Sabaton would continue the band's war metal sound following the success of Rex. With successful follow up records like 2014's Heroes and later 2019's The Great War. The band's most recent record, 2022's The War To End All Wars, even featured a symphonic companion album, which featured orchestral versions of the album. Brodén confirmed that the band is currently in the writing process of their next album, but no information or release date has been announced at the time of this article.

Powerwolf would see a surge in popularity with their next two albums, 2011's Blood of The Saints and 2013's Preachers of The Night. The band will be making their first official US tour in late summer/fall tour. Along with a European tour in the fall. The band will release their twelfth album Wake Up The Wicked on July 26th through Napalm Records.

Do you agree with my decision? Who do you think should have won? Cast your vote on the poll below, leave your comments on our social media, and your suggestions who you think should step in the ring next. I’m Justin, your friendly neighborhood metalhead, for This Day in Metal and this has been Versus.

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