The great thing about Sabaton who usually sing almost exclusively about the war- the great war in this case is that they can always keep you guessing in the genre of music they will put out. It’s fair to say that they mix it up. That is why The Great War the bands 9th album and first in three years starts off like a Nine Inch Nails tune, by the middle there’s a bit of Gary Numan in there, some Eddie Van Halen licks and a raging voice in Joakim Broden who might just fit in well at London’s Royal Opera House on the right night. Album opener‘The Future of Warfare then gets things us off to an interesting start.
My relationship with Sabaton is fairly new I will admit this but they are a band I won’t forget in a hurry. When therevivalmusic.co.uk covered Hellfest in France, Sabaton saved the day, filling in for Manowar who walked off the site because of a disagreement over production and stage size. So Broden and co took to the stage for the 2nd day in a row. By the end of the gig it mattered little who was a fan and who wasn’t. The band had saved the day, covering a headline slot which suited them with their pyros anyway. And it was a joy to behold.
‘Seven Pillars of Wisdom’ continues The Great War and feels like early Maiden and has a really catchy chorus to boot. ‘82nd All the Way’ is about a war hero from the first war, Alvin York who captured well over 100 Germans single handedly.
‘Red Baron’ starts as an instrumental and then gets back into familiar form, lyrics such as ‘an eye for an eye’ and ‘a nation is burning’ seam well with another catchy chorus. And the red baron died when the first world war ended, one wonders if that is a coincidence. ‘Great War’ the title track questions the so called great war in itself and was also released as a stand alone teaser last month.
Verdun in France is a place I have visited a few times and ‘Fields of Verdun’ which was released as the bands first single from the album is arguably the best track on it. Track closer ‘In Flanders Fields’ is a poem written by John McCrae who ultimately would not survive the first world war. But it is a tribute to him that his legacy will live on and does even after 100 years. Ironically while Sabaton’s lyrics would resonate with those that have fought in the old wars, their music may just be too heavy, but this is a poem that could be played anywhere.
While Sabaton may not be for everyone there is no denying their underlying messages. Here is a band that have constantly heralded the heroes of war, but not the known figures you have learned about from the year dot, but the ones that have gone mostly unknown. In that there is something rather special to take away from the power metal band. And that’s just it, Sabaton have become more than just a band with a fantastic stage show, high value production songs and meaningful lyrics. They are in essence a group that deliver you a history lesson. I for one have learned more about 20th century battles and the two world wars even more from listening to them. Perhaps I should have had Broden as my history teacher and I would have passed with flying grades?
Sabaton will play a few dates in Europe this month, which includes an appearance at Bloodstock. After that they undertake a North American tour and will return to Europe at the end of November where they will undertake a 5 month tour.