Label: Nuclear Blast Playing Time: 43 Min Release: 19th July 2019
Today Sabaton are famous in the Metal scene, just like a cat with eight legs. The band had released the first album in 2004 and has seen an unbelievable rise since then. Meanwhile the Swedish guys have become a headliner of international format. Even legends like Accept support them nowadays. However, not everybody sees the band uncritically. First of all, the high pop appeal of their songs, some critics do even call it “Ballermann” Metal*. Furthermore, it is a matter of he lyrics which always focus on the topic of war. It is not an unique feature in the Metal scene, but no other band seems to glorify it as much as Sabaton do.
In 2019 the topic is once again war. “The Great War” is a concept album about World War I. The fine line between displaying historical facts and glorifying war is again difficult to establish. Therefore I do not want to judge the lyrics here. It is a judgement everyone has to take for themselves. Instead, I would like to talk only about music.
In 2019 it meets all expectations. Short and catchy songs which rarely break with the common verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus-scheme which makes the songs quite predictable. It is up to your own opinion, whether you consider this as a plus or minus. Personally, I would prefer the band trying to leave the beaten tracks sometimes. But I find it very appealing that “The Great War” is again very catchy, but not as obvious as “Heroes” and “The Last Stand”. The result is that it takes a bit longer for all the choruses and melodies to kick in and become ear candy, but therefore they also are remembered. After 10 spins I still like listening to the album. That was not always the case. In addition there are a couple of very good songs, called ‘The Seven Pillars Of Wisdom’, ‘The Red Baron’ and ‘A Ghost In The Trenches’, which all have the potential to become longtime hits for the band. In contrast, there are only two songs that do not work well: ‘Attack Of The Dead Man’ and the overly bombastic ‘The War To End All Wars’, where all vocals are by a choir. Anyway, in my opinion “The Great War” is the best Sabaton album since “The Art Of War”.
A final word to the different versions of the album. There is a “normal” version and a history version. The latter contains spoken word parts as intros to the songs. Those parts give some information about the historic context of every song. But those are not only a benefit to listeners who are interested in human history, they also provide a short break between the songs. Those breaks are welcome because of the general upbeat tempo, so without those breaks the album would be too exhausting.
* Ballermann is a famous Mallorca holiday resort bar and became a synonym for binge-drinking party vacations