Sabaton - The Great War review



Reviewer:
9.7

152 users:
7.38
Band: Sabaton
Album: The Great War
Release date: July 2019


Disc I
01. The Future Of Warfare
02. Seven Pillars Of Wisdom
03. 82nd All The Way
04. The Attack Of The Dead Men
05. Devil Dogs
06. The Red Baron
07. Great War
08. A Ghost In The Trenches
09. Fields Of Verdun
10. The End Of The War To End All Wars
11. In Flanders Fields

Disc II [History Edition]
01. The Future Of Warfare
02. Seven Pillars Of Wisdom
03. 82nd All The Way
04. The Attack Of The Dead Men
05. Devil Dogs
06. The Red Baron
07. Great War
08. A Ghost In The Trenches
09. Fields Of Verdun
10. The End Of The War To End All Wars
11. In Flanders Fields

Disc III [The Soundtrack Edition]
01. The Future Of Warfare
02. Seven Pillars Of Wisdom
03. 82nd All The Way
04. The Attack Of The Dead Men
05. Devil Dogs
06. The Red Baron
07. Great War
08. A Ghost In The Trenches
09. Fields Of Verdun
10. The End Of The War To End All Wars
11. In Flanders Fields


You know what rhymes with "Russia"? PRUSSIA. Remember how cool it was that Sabaton covered a song about Marines on their last album? Well, now they wrote one of their own. The Great War? More like The Great Album. More like "Swedish Pillars Of Metal." More like "The Future Of Music." More like *THWACK*

Sorry. Let me start over.

There's no denying that in any context "the Sabaton song" is confined to a limited palette of melodies. Swipe the chorus from "Poltava," boost a couple verses from "Night Witches," and pop in the bridge from "The Lost Battalion" and you've got "The Red Baron" (more or less). "Devil Dogs" belongs to the subclass I call Sabaton Song Type C2 (where it sits with "Smoking Snakes," "Attero Dominatus," and "Aces In Exile"). Lyrical parsimony is even harder to ignore; respecting the fact that Joakim and Pär are not writing in their native language, there are only so many times you can announce that "the battle has begun" before the audience begins to wonder when the battle will finally be over. Even I, a dyed-in-the-wool superfan, am not immune to the fatigue caused by this normally commendable attitude towards recycling; the road from "this is sort of disappointing" to "I always knew this was going to be their best album yet" is littered with the corpses of a thousand replays.

But the thrust of my review of The Last Stand was that Sabaton have been working their ironclad Swedish tails off to improve their execution, and The Great War is the band's most polished and immaculate record to date. Compare "Fields Of Verdun" to anything from The Art Of War or Coat Of Arms, or even The Last Stand: the production has taken an enormous step up. Joakim's vocal lines are doubled and better enunciated; he hits notes in the middle of a standard verse that he would have struggled to climb to a decade ago. The band is tighter and more cooperative than ever, accentuating those vocal lines with precise guitars and some of the best drum work to date - and the keys are much more present than on the last few albums, slathered all over every song to achieve that perfect sheen of bubblegum bliss. Chris Rörland's and Tommy Johansson's guitars absolutely shine in transitional flourishes and harmonious grooves, and Thobbe Englund's solo exemplifies the best of the band's new axe team: flashier and more self-indulgent than the work of Oskar Montelius and Rikard Sunden, but fitting in well with this more polished Sabaton.

On top of that, Sabaton do continue to experiment with song structures and new ways to buttress old concepts. "Attack Of The Dead Men" employs electronics in a manner not previously approached, resulting in an uncharacteristically eerie bridge to match a somber, dreary chorus. "The Red Baron" bounces with a "fast shuffle," as Joakim describes it, kicked off by no less prestigious a personality than Johann Sebastian Bach, and "The End Of The War To End All Wars" has no obvious precedent at all in Sabaton's catalogue. "The Future Of Warfare" owes something to "The Lost Battalion" in its mid-chorus key change from dire to triumphant, but it rolls along at a loose clip all its own. Closing the album with the a cappella "In Flanders Fields" lends The Great War a measure of maturity and gravitas that even detractors could respect. Setting John McCrae's famous poem to music not only showcases Joakim's more ambitious writing abilities, but puts a reflective cap on an album that is otherwise a shade darker, more violent, and more dire than the usual Sabaton release, even with the resilient pop tunes glaring through. This album is called The Great War because it focuses on one of the most devastating and significant conflicts in human history. While it's fun to celebrate the courage of the Red Baron, T.E. Lawrence, and Francis Pegahmagabow - and these uplifting moods are where Sabaton are most at home - it is still possible to detect anger and despair over the fact that something so monumentally stupid was allowed to happen.

I tend to follow the philosophy that the best Sabaton album is whichever one was just released, and it's business as usual with The Great War; I just can't help but snap my fingers every time "The Red Baron" kicks in. That glorious midsection of "Devil Dogs," the cool rhythms of "A Ghost In The Trenches," the absolutely-predictable-and-so-much-better-for-it anthem that is "82nd All The Way" - they're all so perfectly Sabaton, and that's just plain ol' perfect in my book. And let's take a moment to appreciate Tommy Johansson's rise through the ranks; years ago, he was covering Sabaton with his own band, and now he's writing and recording his own actual Sabaton songs ("A Ghost In The Trenches" features his first writing credit with the band). With all the effort that has gone into polishing this record, the fascinating Sabaton History Channel that delves into the stories behind their songs, the Wargaming collaboration that produced the "Bismarck" single (and the first official "Primo Victoria" video), not forgetting that soundtrack package for Europa Universalis IV or how many historic performances the band has put on or the fact that they just carry an entire tank with them on tour now, it appears that Sabaton has really established itself as an entire institution, not just a band - like KISS, but for history buffs and also good. In conclusion, Sabaton is the best.


Rating breakdown
Performance: 10
Songwriting: 9
Originality: 5
Production: 9


 



Written on 18.08.2019 by I'm the reviewer, and that means my opinion is correct.

Guest review by
tominator
Rating:
7.5
Well, Mr. ScreamingSteelUS recently did a review of this record. And just like last time with The Last Stand, I'll do one as well. Looking at the scores it looks like he finds this album an improvement over the previous one. Is it though? Yes… No… well… maybe a bit… It's complicated…

Read more ››
published 04.09.2019 | Comments (1)


Comments

Comments: 9   Visited by: 195 users
18.08.2019 - 19:31
ScreamingSteelUS
Editor-in-Chief
I didn't realize when I linked it that the ReinXeed cover is set to Girls und Panzer clips. Hell yeah.
----
Row, row, fight the power
Djently down the stream

I'm the Agent of Steel.
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18.08.2019 - 19:37
ManiacBlasphemer
Black Knight
LoL this review popped up just a few hours after I finished giving a few spins to this album and writing a comment about my impression of it.

Nice review and good album, although my least favorite song is The Red Baron.
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18.08.2019 - 19:50
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
I was gonna criticize that high rating, but you mentioned Europa Universalis IV in the review so I'll give you a pass
----
Take off those stupid glasses and kiss me
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19.08.2019 - 01:28
Maco
Carnivore
Just give it a 10 already.
----
By blood... Resurrection?
By body... Redemption?
By God... Domination?
By Pilate... Crucifixion!
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19.08.2019 - 14:33
nikarg
Old Nick
Written by Maco on 19.08.2019 at 01:28

Just give it a 10 already.

Only this release deserves a 10 so far this year.

As always, reading SSUS's reviews of Sabaton albums is more enjoyable for me than actually listening to them.
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19.08.2019 - 14:34
tominator
At best deranged
Funny just the other day I was thinking of making a review for this album and then this one shows up.
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19.08.2019 - 14:53
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
Written by nikarg on 19.08.2019 at 14:33

Only this release deserves a 10 so far this year.

so far
----
Take off those stupid glasses and kiss me
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19.08.2019 - 17:04
tominator
At best deranged
Written by RaduP on 19.08.2019 at 14:53

so far


Obviously
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20.08.2019 - 00:47
ScreamingSteelUS
Editor-in-Chief
Written by RaduP on 19.08.2019 at 14:53

Written by nikarg on 19.08.2019 at 14:33

Only this release deserves a 10 so far this year.

so far

Y'all just wait.
----
Row, row, fight the power
Djently down the stream

I'm the Agent of Steel.
Loading...

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