On the brink of celebrating their twentieth anniversary as a band, Swedish power metal crew Sabaton are both a surprise and inspiration to younger groups across the world.
From their early works incorporating themes of war, battles, and heroism, to almost self-imploding in 2012 (two thirds of the band up and left), Sabaton‘s huge appeal coupled with headlining major European festivals can only be admired. If you’re not a fan up until now, then admittedly ninth studio record ‘The Great War’ probably won’t change your mind.
Opening track ‘The Future Of Warfare’ delivers an assault of orchestral melody blasting through the speakers, with chest-beating lyrics that are the cheesiness to the groovy riff’s heaviness, before ‘Seven Pillars Of Wisdom’ incorporates some nifty guitar solo work to kick off the track in majestic style. Those 80s inspired riffs soon kick in, and vocalist Joakim Broden lends his rolling ‘r’-ed lyrics to the mix during the catchy chorus, chanting “As the darkness falls and Arabia calls”. So far, so Sabaton.
The production is notably strong throughout, and the music zips and pops into your conscience with ease. ’82nd All The Way’ is full-on disco worship, which really does lay that cheesy atmosphere on thick. If nothing else, the aforementioned production quality does make it sound huge, and it’s undeniably fist-pumping and energetic.
A turn of pace occurs with ‘The Attack Of The Dead Men’, which sees the band employ a far moodier soundscape to what they’re normally known for, whilst (other than the odd circus-fuelled introduction) the rhythm section on ‘The Red Baron’ lifts things back up as what appears to be a harpsichord-type sound peppers the background of the song.
There are certain elements to this record that show a bit of diversity, such as the electronica and feminine choral effect in ‘Great War’ and a masterful key change present in ‘A Ghost In The Trenches’, which is sure to appeal to hair metal aficionados the world over.
The addictive nature of their sound continues through ‘Fields Of Verdun’, with a chorus containing a real call-to-arms chant of “The battle has begun / Nowhere to run / Father and son”, before the final track sees a recital of John McRae‘s famous First World War poem, ‘In Flanders Fields’, to conclude the record.
Utterly bombastic, toe-tappingly groovy, and with a cringeworthy vocal performance (in places), ‘The Great War’ is Sabaton at their prime. You’ll probably have a strong view of them one way or another by now, but if you’re a fan then there’s a lot to like here.
After getting into alternative music during the mid 90s with the rise of nu-metal and pop-punk, I’ve gradually spread my interests far and wide and have a real love for metalcore, prog metal and tech metal. Amongst other things, I am a husband, father of two amazing kids, heavy metal DJ, and video game/book/nerd enthusiast!