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Sabaton – 'The Great War' Album Review


1. The Future Of Warfare

2. Seven Pillars Of Wisdom

3. 82nd All The way

4. The Attack Of The Dead Men

5. Devil Dogs

6. The Red Baron

7. Great War

8. A Ghost In The Trenches

9. Fields Of Verdun

10. The End Of The War To End All Wars

11. In Flanders Fields

I’m not going to lie, when I opened my e-mail and saw that I was reviewing a concept album about the first world war, my heart sank a little. While concept albums can be astoundingly good, they can also be ridiculously bad or, in an even worse crime, they can be just boring. Especially when themed around such a serious event. There have been many high-profile failure concept albums over the years, across all genres.

So is this latest album from Sabaton (a Swedish band with twenty years history of making Power Metal) one of these high-profile flops, or is it a high-flying success?

I’m pleased to say that it is quite definitely the latter. While the album is lyrically themed around the great war, it manages to do it in a way where it uses that as the starting point to create an exciting musical experience, rather than hammer home the traditional “War is Bad” message.

Three paragraphs in and I’ve not even mentioned the music! I’m pretty new to Sabaton (I’d heard a couple of songs here and there prior to reviewing this, but I had never sat down and listened to a whole album) and you do often go into albums with certain expectations of what they would sound like. And while Sabaton don’t do anything to break the mould stylistically, what they do very well is write some catchy and bombastic Metal anthems that deserve to be wider known.

And yes, they’ve been around twenty years and I’m sure they have a huge following, but for me, it was an extremely pleasant surprise to discover a great sense of musical variety through the album, with every song having it’s own feel and atmosphere.

Favourite tracks for me include 'Seven Pillars Of Wisdom', '82nd All The Way' and 'Devil Dogs'. But while these personal favourites are all in the first half of the album, it doesn’t mean that I think the album is unbalanced. In fact, while 'A Ghost In The Trenches' is not amongst those top three songs, if I had to rate guitar solos alone, it would be right at the top – it is superb, and then followed by my fourth favourite song on the album – 'Fields Of Verdun'.

In short, this is a great album packed with songs that range from good to exceptional, and chock full of riffs that should please every listener. Avoiding the pitfalls that can affect concept albums, 'The Great War' is a delight from start to finish, so crank it up loud, let your hair down and headbang the night away.

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Review - Michael Braunton

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