Sometimes when you sit down to review an album you can get right in the face with awesomeness when you just simply don’t expect it. We’ve come to love and expect good music from the mighty Swedes Sabaton but not even I was expecting the greatness that is their brand new album – The Great War.
If there were any doubters out there then The Great War is the album that will silence them all. This is not only the best sounding Sabaton of all time but this album shows why they need to be considered some of the finest songwriters of our time. To take a theme like World War I and create masterpieces of music like this can only be described as Lennon and McCartney like.
This is an album that thrills both lyrically and musically. Tracks like “The Future Of Warfare” simply take off on the first listen. They build and build musically and are further enhanced by the brilliant melodic vocals of Joakim Broden who almost seems to go to a whole new level this time around. When you combine that with the fact that the band actually tell a story with the lyrics and it is not hard to see why the tracks on The Great War are some of the greatest that the band have created.
As you make your way through the album as a whole it almost feels like each track goes to another height. The short and sweet “Seven Pillars Of Widom” is pure theatrical ecstasy while the tale of the young solider told in “82 nd All The Way” again shows the brilliant song-writing skills of Sabaton.
While listening to The Great War it is easy to get lost in that traditional Sabaton power metal sound but the band do shuffle things up as they go along. The electronic opening to “The Attack Of The Dead Men” seems to come out of nowhere – the choir then lifts the vocals while the guitars of Chris Rorland and Tommy Johansson absolutely soar throughout. Again the lyrics only enhance the track with the haunting lines about the dead men marching.
The other element that really strikes you about The Great War is the catchiness of some of the tracks. “Devil Dogs” feels like an advertisement for the US Marines while “The Red Baron” is one of the most infectious tracks of 2019… people will be singing along to this at Sabaton gigs for years to come. Likewise the upbeat “A Ghost In The Trenches” lifts the spirit of the album and almost sounds like a victory march.
To be honest though it was the more thought-provoking songs on the album that won me over the most though. It is impossible not to stop and reflect when you hear lyrics like ‘father and son fall one by one’ during “Fields Of Verdun” or the deep meaning behind “Great War”. Very few songwriters have captured the emotion of war the way that Sabaton have here. That moment of reflection continues as you hear the choir take over on “The End Of The War To End All Wars” before the traditional track “In Flanders Field” closes the album.
As I said earlier this is an album of true brilliance from Sabaton. Catchy when it needs to be but thought-provoking as well, this is an album that is not only supposed to entertain but also educates music fans about the pain and loss of World War I… a truly brilliant album.