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Sabaton – The Great War

The tales of these gruesome battles, heroic people and game changing tactics is brought to you by the Swedish heavy metal band Sabaton, We all know they have brought it upon themselves to teach us the history of wars and battles from all around the world. They are back with what will be their ninth studio album coming out July 19 2019. “A war to end all wars.” That’s what people believed would happen with the Great War, now a hundred years later we know better and Sabaton asks an important question: ‘What’s so fucking great about it?’ So grab your camo pants, battle jackets and sunglasses, we have an album to review and even though casualties may fall, it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make.

The future of Warfare‘ is the first song and about how tanks changed the way of how we fought in battles. Joakim brings his voice low and slow so given it that creepy vibe which makes this song that much better. In the chorus he brings the paste back up again, like how a heart would start racing when standing face to face with such deadly machinery. Sabaton has decided to try out something new and it’s working. This song is powerful and catchy, a true eye- (or in this case: ear) catcher. It makes you hunger for more, after having put this song on repeat for a while of course.

Seven Pillars of Wisdom‘ has familiar sounding guitar riffs, Joakim’s lyrics sound familiar even though it isn’t the same as in my memory, have I gone mad? Probably, but after a few listens and having Spotify on shuffle I came across ‘White Death’, an older song from their ‘Coat of Arms’ album. ‘White Death’ is a bit rough around the edges but similarities can be found between these two songs. Both good and strong, but still the same in some ways as well. ‘Seven Pillars of Wisdom‘ has more of a ‘Heroes‘ album vibe to it as well.

82 and All the Way‘ again gives a familiar vibe… There is nothing wrong with having that vibe, alot of bands, once they find their ‘thing’, they tend to stick to the same. However, the almost exact same guitar riffs and drums makes it feel like there isn’t much effort put into the songs. The songs are good, they are strong, they are catchy… But they also feel re-used, rewashed even. That’s not something we want in a new album. We know Sabaton can play these songs, we’ve heard them do it before on previous albums. We don’t want another ‘Last Stand’ album now, do we? Come on Sabaton, we know you can do so much better than this!

The Attack of the Dead Men’, HOLY FUCKING SHIT! They heard me. It has been so long since I last had goosebumps while reviewing an album… But this song, is powerful, gruesome, dynamic. I’ve put this song on repeat for an hour while reviewing this album, because of how amazing it is. It flows perfectly from chorus to guitar solo and back again. The sounds added to the background give it that little extra, together with Joakim’s voice. This song is getting close to perfection and even if one is not a fan of Sabaton, denying the greatness of this song would simply be a lie.

Devil dogs‘ again gives me that “I’ve heard this before”-vibe. Ah yes, ‘Smoking Snakes’ from the ‘Heroes‘ album. However, this time it’s only the intro really that felt similar. They break apart from that and give it a new twist, with my personal favourite: “Come on you sons of bitches, do you want to live forever?!” It almost can’t get anymore American than that. The USA marines at their best.

The Red Baron‘ was released a while ago by Sabaton themselves and this upbeat song is something we haven’t heard much before in previous albums. It’s fast-paced, catchy and the name is hard to pronounce (Rote Kampfflieger). I’m a fan and even I need a few tries before I had the hang of it. This song shows again how Sabaton can play with words and bring catchy, strong lyrics who tell the story in the best way possible.

‘Great War’, the title track of this album, which also has been released by the band. And this might sound like I’m repeating myself, but hear me out: It sounds familiar once again. This time, however, not to one particular song, no! It’s a complete stand alone song which fits perfectly in this album, but the style brings back memories to the old Sabaton. The backing vocals, the drums, guitar riffs, Joakim having a rougher voice, less clean than with songs like ‘Seven Pillars of Wisdom’ or ‘Devil Dogs’. And it shows that they actually did put alot of effort in this album and these songs.

The style of the songs variate, which makes this even better than I first thought. I swallow my words. This album is NOT another ‘Last Stand‘. It can be compared with ‘Coat of Arms’, ‘Primo Victoria’ & ‘Heroes’. Amazing albums, where Sabaton shows their skills in every way.

‘A Ghost in the Trenches’, the song about a native canadian sniper. This song is amazing, especially the lyrics. I don’t know why but personally I really love the lyrics on this one. I can see it in front of my eyes how the war must have been for him. “Makes his way from trench to trench, alone moving undetected“! It is a catchy and fast song. They really did a great work on this one.

Fields of Verdun’, the first song that was released from this alum. After the single ‘Bischmark’, fans were left divided on how to feel about this song. The interview we had with Pär Sundström (bass player and managar from Sabaton) told us that this is the ‘worst’ song on this album, according to the band and Thobbe Englund (former guitarist and writer of ‘Field of Verdun’). In my honest opinion: it isn’t the “worst” song on this album. It’s release might have been unfortunate considering they brought out ‘Bischmark’ not too long before. After a few listens you can really start to appreciate the song and even though to me it’s not as amazing as ‘Attack of the Dead Men’, this is still a powerful song, which is performed with a lot of energy live.

The End of The War To End All Wars‘ is definitely the song with the longest title. Let’s stay serious: it starts with a slow piano piece, which is accompanied with a string instrument. It makes the listener feel almost at ease, not for too long however. The pace quickens and Joakim brings back his low and almost creepy voice. The back-up vocals work together in perfect harmony with the guitars, drums and string instruments. It’s a song that takes you higher, it’s almost bombastic yet the band is in complete control. It feels like a climax to a thrilling adventure.

This feeling makes hearing ‘In Flanders Fields’ for the first time a weird experience. Such a high energy song followed by this, at first, feels wrong. However, I did the interview with Pär and I remember he told us that The End of the War To End All Wars’ was a bombastic song and ending the album in that matter would make the listener crash. ‘In Flanders Fields’ gives the listener some sort of parachute, in order to come down safely after listening to these songs. I couldn’t agree more with Pär. Each on their own, this might not seem that clear at all, but together these two songs were just meant to be.

This album has some familiar sounds, a lot of new ones and one hell of a song! (no, I can’t get over it.) It shows they still know what they’re doing and we are eagerly looking forward to what else they have in store for their twenty years of Sabaton. So to end this review all I can say is: Hundreds of years of war, mankind still has a lot to learn. Luckily for the past twenty years, Sabaton has been willing to be our teachers.

For our interview with Pär about ‘The Great War‘ and other things, go here, here and here.
For people from Belgium feel free to join the Belgium Sabaton Fanclub “Boar Battalion” on Facebook.

Release date: July 19th 2019
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Tracklist:

  1. The Future of Warfare
  2. Seven Pillars of Wisdom
  3. 82nd All the Way
  4. The Attack of the Dead Men
  5. Devil Dogs
  6. The Red Baron
  7. Great War
  8. A Ghost in the Trenches
  9. Fields of Verdun
  10. The End of the War to End All Wars
  11. In Flander Fields

Reviews

  • Music8
  • Lyrics/Vocals8
  • Production 9
  • Artwork9
  • Originality7
  • 8.2

    Score

    This album has some familiar sounds, a lot of new ones and one hell of a song! It shows Sabaton still know what they’re doing and we are eagerly looking forward to what else they have in store for their twenty years of Sabaton.



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