JULY 11th 2019

Review by Metallic Barbie

Lots of bands would celebrate their 20th year as a group by taking a break, buying a fancy new car, maybe even indulging in some classic hookers and blow.  What does Sabaton do?  They release a new concept album about Wold War I, aptly titled The Great War.
Cover to cover, it delivers exactly what you expect of any Sabaton record: anthemic, driving, rhythmic, headbanging tunes only this time you’re being spoon-fed pages from a history book.  Each song tells a story from “82nd All The Way” with its delicate guitar lines about American paratoopers to “The Red Baron” with its catchy sing-a-long about the infamous German fighter pilot to “A Ghost In The Trenches” with the intricate dance of each instrument stepping to the tale of Canadian Francis Pegahmagabow, considered the most effective sniper of World War I.
What lead vocalist/keyboardist Joakim Brodén, bassist Pär Sundström, guitarist Chris Rörland, guitarist Tommy Johansson, and drummer Hannes van Dahl don’t want you to think is that this album, being released the 100th year since the conclusion of the war, is just like every other Sabaton album.  Problem is: it is.  You have “The Future of Warfare” and “Devil Dogs” to fist pump to, you have “Seven Pillars of Wisdom” and “The Attack of the Dead Men” to jump up and down to and “Great War” and “Fields of Verdun” to roar to.  Each track has that full-bodied sound that we come to expect from Sabaton and though there are some musical twists and turns, to the average listener it sounds very much like every other release.
The record does close with a male and female choir doing an acapella version of John McCrae’s poem “In Flanders Fields”.  If you have any emotional attachment to the war, and are moved almost to tears just hearing the poem, this will leave you with a quiver in your lip.
Interestingly, whether a marketing ploy or an experiment in musical science, Apocalyptica released a version of Sabaton’s first single, “Fields of Verdun” before it was actually released by the band.  This spiced an appetite for the true single and created a taste for more.  Since then, momentum continues to build toward the full album’s release date.
The band is currently on The Great Tour, delivering what will likely overcome the very tepid receipt this writer had of The Great War sitting at home, beer in hand, in my Snuggie.  And if you believe anything I have to say after that last sentence, believe that I encourage you to put on your moshing boots and head to a live performance of these tracks as I’m betting (and Sabaton is a sure thing) it will blow the at-home-version out of the proverbial water.