TVD Live Shots:
Sabaton and HammerFall at the Fillmore Silver Spring, 11/3

For many years, I’ve had an interest in the study of World War I, “The Great War.” In just four years, that conflict sprayed carnage across the world, leaving millions dead, accelerated technological advancements, influenced the culture of a generation, and shaped an entire century. I’d read books and given speeches on why we should continue to have an interest, even as 100 years have passed since November 11, 1918. I’ve only ever been met with polite attention. I know now what was missing from my discussions, the thing that could generate sustained enthusiasm for creaky, dusty history: Swedish power metal.

This realization came to me when Sabaton (Joakim Brodén, Pär Sundström, Tommy Johansson, Hannes van Dahl, and Chris Rörland) marched through suburban Washington, DC this past Sunday night with support from HammerFall, blasting the sold out Fillmore Silver Spring, the last night of the US leg of “The Great Tour.” Sabaton are promoting their new album The Great War. Unlike previous albums that were built around a war-related theme—last stands, heroes, the rise and fall of the Swedish Empire—this album is built around World War I.

It was an impressive stage setup for a club venue—a war tank with the drum kit perched on top and mic stands in the form of helmets and rifles. After kicking off with “Ghost Division,” Sabaton tore through roughly half of The Great War, setting stories about the Red Baron and the Battle of Verdun to fist pumps and metal riffs.

In all it was a generous, eighteen song set list (including encore) that hit all the big points in the band’s catalog. The crowd was there for it, too. Packed like soldiers in the trenches, the fans cheered and, many times, surfed their way to the stage. As it was the last night of the US leg, the band was loose and had fun, and Brodén pointed out that someone altered the night’s set list so that each song contained the word “goat” (“Fields of Goat,” “Goat War,” “Goat All the Way,” you get the idea). God I love the Swedes.

HammerFall (Joacim Cans, Pontus Norgren Oscar Dronjak, Fredrik Larsson, and David Wallin) kicked off the night with a no frills, anthemic, and extremely fun set, pumping the crowd for the headliner. Riding the success of their recent album Dominion, the band brought their A game for the eleven-song set, enthusiastic and engaging as they sang of warriors, glory and honor. Sabaton guitarist Tommy Johansson even joined to play for a bit to the delight of everyone in the house.

So fun was had by all. As a photographer I would be remiss not to mention that both bands allowed us to shoot their entire sets, an extra special treat in a world where the three song rule is the norm. In return I offer a humble “tack” to Sabaton and HammerFall for giving us this opportunity.

The Great Tour hits Europe on November 23. First stop: Helsinki, Finland.

HAMMERFALL

HammerFall Set List
Never Forgive, Never Forget
One Against the World
Renegade
Blood Bound
Any Means Necessary
Hector’s Hymn
Last Man Standing
Let the Hammer Fall
Hammer High
(We Make) Sweden Rock
Hearts on Fire

Sabaton Set List
Ghost Division
Great War
Resist and Bite
Fields of Verdun
The Attack of the Dead Man
The Red Baron
The Price of a Mile
Bismarck
The Lion from the North
Carolus Rex
Shiroyama
Night Witches
The Lost Battalion
The Last Stand
82nd All the Way

Encore
Primo Victoria
Swedish Pagans
To Hell and Back

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