Sabaton – The Great War
Released: July 19th, 2019
Hannes Van Dahl – Drums
Joakim Brodén – Lead Vocals
Pär Sundström – Bass
Tommy Johansson – Lead Guitar
Chris Rörland – Lead Guitar
Swedish power metal legends Sabaton are back with their 9th release. To fans there should no be surprise, this album like those that have come before deals with war and conflict. This time the Scandinavian metalheads have put together a concept album dealing with The First Word War, hence the title ‘The Great War’. If you’re a bit of a history nut like me you may appreciate the special “history” edition – it’s essentially the same as the standard release but with added wartime narrative introducing the songs throughout. Some more informative than others, but it’s a nice touch if you like that sort of thing. Just on history, have a look at Sabaton History on YouTube. It’s a channel the band have set up in conjunction with historian Indy Neidell serving up bite sized pieces of war history.
But enough of dwelling in the past, let’s have a look at what possible future the five Swedes have in store for their fans… I’m just going to say right up the front, if you’re a Sabaton fan you won’t be disappointed. Rarely do the boys stray far from their well-worn and proven track, and why should they? Although reinventing yourself worked for the likes of David Bowe, Radiohead and Tool, there’s a strong argument for staying the course. Just ask AC/DC, Motorhead or Amon Amarth. Each to his own, but in my view, if you’re on a good thing, stick to it! That’s exactly what you get from ‘The Great War’.
The album features 11 tracks, 10 of which are pure Sabaton. The 11th and final track a surprising choir tribute to those who fell on Flanders Fields breathing new life into the poem of the same name. Choir tributes aside, it’s all about the metal, right from the opening track ‘The Future Of Warfare’ a relentless march through the battles of the First World War. If you’ve been paying attention, you’d be all over the three singles already released. The first ‘Fields of Verdun’ a song about the longest battle of the war, this more than any other encapsulates the vibe of the album. It’s gritty and serious and gallops at a relentless pace without losing any of those trademark Sabaton hooks. The next single covers the story of Manfred von Richthofen aka flying ace ‘The Red Baron’, with a rousing chorus and shouts of “Higher!” it’s not hard to immerse yourself in the blood-soaked tale of arguably the world’s most famous fighter pilot.
The third single and title track ‘Great War’ is a general narrative on the horror, tragedy and utter futility of a world in conflict. It also raises the bar in that power metal tradition of epic songs, not in length, as with most of the tracks on the album hovering around the 3-4 minute mark, but the huge vocal arraignments sounding like a choir of hundreds adding to Joakim Brodén’s unique voice. The album continues with stories of gallantry, heroism and tragic loss all set to a head banging soundtrack. Big drums, huge guitars, pure metal symphonic mayhem. It’s hard to pick a favourite on this album, every track is a strong as the next. Power Metal is a divisive gene, you either love it or hate it, so it is with Sabaton. All the trademarks are here, gruff vocals, anthemic choruses and more hooks than Rex Hunt’s Fishing Adventures.
Take a delve into the history of the war to end all wars, a rock n’ roll rollercoaster ride from the trenches to the sky. There’s nothing great about war, but this is a pretty great album.
Sabaton – The Great War tracklisting:
- The Future of Warfare
- Seven Pillars of Wisdom
- 82 nd All the Way
- The Attack of the Dead Men
- Devil Dogs
- The Red Baron
- Great War
- A Ghost in the Trenches
- Fields of Verdun
- The End of the War to End All Wars
- In Flanders Fields
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