Sabaton, your friendly neighborhood war-themed heavy metal band from Sweden, is back with their tenth studio album “The War to End All Wars”. The offering, which continues with the theme of Word War I set by the previous album, will be out on the 4th of March. I had my Sabaton-baptism in 2012 when they were touring with one of their most successful albums “Carolus Rex”, and ever since then every new record from this band has been an event I’ve eagerly looked forward to. Even though the magical halo surrounding this band has somewhat dimmed in my eyes after a dozen witnessed concerts and a couple of lackluster records, I was nevertheless excited to wrap my ears around “The War to End All Wars”.
My review copy was the history edition of the album, the opening track “Sarajevo” beginning with a female narrator detailing the prior events leading up to the first World War. The four-and-a-half-minute intro tunes the listener to the album’s atmosphere with the aforementioned storyteller, Joakim Brodén’s devastatingly simple and effective vocals announcing the onset of a war to end all wars, and the rhythm section’s equally simple and melodic pummeling. Once the formalities are over with, “Stormtroopers” kicks the record into a higher gear, chronicling the deeds of Imperial Germany’s specialist soldiers with high-octane drumming and some catchy guitar and lead vocal work. Following track “Dreadnought” is perhaps my favourite on the album, its slow tempo and ominous atmosphere reminiscent of “Bismarck“, another great Sabaton song dealing with battleships. From then on, the album delivers your usual Sabaton fare of meticulously crafted melodic metal with tempos not straying too far in any direction from what’s standard for this band. “The War to End All Wars” ends with a very similar note to how it started with, quite literally, as “Versailles” is an extended outro that utilizes the same rhythms and melodies as the intro. “Can a war really end a war”, asks Brodén forebodingly in the album’s closing lines, and we all know the sad answer to that.
True to the demands of modern-day music industry, Sabaton’s upcoming album is available in quite the multitude of different formats. The history edition is strongly recommended for those who wish to be cued into the stories behind the songs, those who prefer to vibe with the music without any extra distractions should naturally opt for the standard version.
“Nothing like what had come before”, booms lead singer Brodén in the album’s first and final tracks. World War I might’ve been unlike anything the world had ever seen before at the time, but Sabaton’s “The War to End All Wars” certainly isn’t unlike the band’s previous efforts. For most Sabaton fans, this is as much as they would ever ask for and thus will be content to celebrate this album as another strong addition to the band’s discography. Those among the fanbase itching for Sabaton to break new ground musically or lyrically will go on itching for quite a while still.