Album Reviews

Sabaton – The War to End All Wars Review

Release Date: March 4th, 2022

Label: Nuclear Blast Records

Genre: Power Metal

Links: https://www.sabaton.net

 

Line Up:

Joakim Brodén – Vocals
Chris Rörland – Guitars
Tommy Johansson – Guitars
Pär Sundström – Bass
Hannes Van Dahl – Drums

 

Tracklist:

1. Sarajevo

2. Stormtroopers

3. Dreadnought

4. The Unkillable Soldier

5. Soldier of Heaven

6. Hellfighters

7. Race to the Sea

8. Lady of the Dark

9. The Valley of Death

10. Christmas Truce

11. Versailles

 

 

Over my past decade and a half of really diving into metal, I’ve discovered many favorite bands, as well as countless bands I always look forward to hearing new music from. While I’m not sure I could pick just one particular band as my absolute favorite above all others, if I were to do so, Swedish power metal band Sabaton would be a very strong contender. Some of my favorite bands may occasionally surprise me or even challenge me to readjust from my initial expectations from time to time, but out of all of my favorites, Sabaton is probably the closest to my musical “comfort food”, in that every time they put out an album I pretty much know exactly what to expect, and I know I’ll absolutely love it every time, and get hooked listening to it on a repeated loop for many years to come. Even their less inspired efforts such as Coat of Arms or The Last Stand still manage to keep me fully entertained on a consistent basis, while others such as The Art of War and Heroes are among my most listened to albums of all time. Needless to say, I expect to become addicted every time Sabaton puts out a new album, so it’s no shock to say that their eighth full length release, The War To End All Wars, has become by far my most listened to album of 2022, within a month of its release. Unsurprisingly, it has also become easily my favorite album of the year, even surpassing the highly anticipated new Star One release, Revel In Time.

Very little has changed in between releases, with the lineup staying the same, and anyone familiar with the band’s music should know exactly what to expect: Epic, super catchy and melodic war themed anthems, with incredibly addicting choruses, high energy verses, some occasional heavy riffs, lots of classic sounding keyboards, of course everything is topped off by the deep, powerful voice of Joakim Brodén, who sounds as fantastic as always. I was initially a bit skeptical, simply because this was the first time the band used the same general concept two albums in a row, following up the WWI themed The Great War, with another WWI themed album immediately afterwards, instead of moving on to something else. However, just like its predecessor, the concept is executed to perfection, with intro and outro tracks that do a great job of explaining how the war started and ended, while every track has very epic, inspiring lyrics reflecting on various battles, people or aspects of the war, and once again, I find the lyrics to be especially well written by power metal standards, and of course the choruses are just as catchy as ever.

I find The End of All Wars to be one of Sabaton’s most varied albums to date, with some of their heaviest material on tracks like “Dreadnoguht” and “Hellfighters”, one of their softest tracks ever in “Christmas Truce”, as well as a good mix of fast and slower tracks spread nicely throughout the album. There isn’t anything overly new or shocking, though a couple tracks do feel slightly different from what I was expecting. Most importantly, though, the album has an absolutely perfect flow, moving from one highlight to another seamlessly, with no filler or no less than thrilling moments the entire way through, which once again makes it a super easy album to listen to on repeated loops. I’d say the amount of faster tracks is less than normal, even compared to The Last Stand or The Great War, however the faster tracks that are here happen to be some of the band’s hardest hitting, most energetic speedier tracks in quite some time, while even the slower tracks have a ton of energy to them, as well as plenty of memorable moments, so the album never even begins to lose any momentum at all.

Another thing the album has in common with its predecessor is the inclusion of a History Edition. While the intro and outro tracks do a nice job of explaining the overarching concept, there are no narrations for the rest of the album, at least on the normal version. The History Edition, on the other hand, adds very brief narrations at the start of most tracks (usually around 15-30 seconds), to help introduce the themes of the song, and this works very well, adding a bit of context to the tracks, without every getting in the way, similar to what the band did on The Art of War. Unlike with the previous album, I didn’t notice any differences between the versions whatsoever when it comes to the actual music, with no removed passages such as on “The Red Baron”, and honestly, I find the narration to be so well done and non-intrusive, I think I’d personally recommend using the History Edition over the normal one, even on a regular basis, because the flow of the album remains as strong as ever, and the added narration really does add a lot, as brief as it is.

Of course, the most important thing about any album is the actual songs themselves, and as always, The War to End All Wars certainly does not disappoint in that area. I already mentioned the opening and closing tracks “Sarajevo” and “Versailles”, which both alternate between extended narrated sections, as well as a fairly basic but very effective chorus, one describing the beginning of the war, the other the end of it. On “Versailles”, the two choruses eventually get mixed together, for a pretty interesting effect, where “Sarajevo” sticks to the opening version, while also including an extended instrumental section not found on its counterpart. This particular section is probably the best instrumental section on the entire album, starting off with one of the band’s most explosive, hard hitting power metal passages I’ve ever heard, before going into a brief but very beautiful guitar solo. While both tracks are largely focused on the overall narrative, “Sarajevo” stands out just for having such an epic instrumental section to really kick things off in high gear. Curiously, some digital versions of the album don’t include “Sarajevo”, which I consider a bit disappointing, both because it works so well together with “Versailles”, as bookends to the album, and also because losing it also means losing that one particular instrumental section, which is tough to take.

The momentum doesn’t slow down in the least bit with the first regular track, “Stormtroopers” (the only song which curiously does not have any narration on the History Edition, perhaps because the band felt it would be a bit too much coming after that extended intro.) The band wastes no time charging full speed ahead, with some heavy riffs, furious, frantic drumming and some powerful vocals during the opening verse, and the chorus keeps the pace going, moving very fast while still being quite melodic, as well as very epic and catchy, as expected from the band. The track also has a fantastic solo in the second half, and overall I’d say it’s easily the most explosive and energetic opening track the band has done since at least “Night Witches”, so it’s an instant favorite. The pace does drop off a bit on “Dreadnought”, a darker, more atmospheric track with some nice heavy riffs giving way to some very atmospheric keys, which both set the tone and really drive the overall track. The tempo stays at more of a march throughout the track, with the drums and bass doing a great job of establishing the rhythm (which is honestly one thing I especially notice on this album, as both bassist Pär Sundström and drummer Hannes van Dahl do an incredible job), but the song still has a ton of energy, due to partly to how good that rhythm section is, as well as some excellent vocal melodies, a fantastic chorus and a really nice solo section towards the end, with some very beautiful guitar work. The fact the track may be my least loved on the album is absolutely no knock against it, but more a reflection of how much I love the album as a whole, because on its own, it’s definitely a fantastic track.

Next is the third pre-release single, The Unkillable Soldier, a track I instantly fell in love with right from the first note. It has a very strong early Sabaton feel to it, with a quick tease at its chorus right at the start, before moving on to a very fun, speedy opening verse, and then launching into one of the best choruses of the album, one which gallops along at a quick pace, yet still manages to have some very memorable vocal melodies, and epic lyrics, while being very melodic and extremely catchy. It’s the kind of heroic anthem the band has always excelled at, and while it does sound very familiar, the band has pulled it off to absolute perfection once again, so there’s no reason not to keep doing it. Next is the second single “Soldier of Heaven”, which feels very much in line with some of the slower, more keyboard driven tracks from The Last Stand. I wasn’t overly impressed when I first heard it on its own, but within the context of the album, it fits in nicely, being positioned in between two much faster, heavier tracks, to serve as somewhat of a breather in between. The keyboards have a very 80’s feel to them and are very prominent, driving a lot of the track, especially the opening verse which has very minimal guitar work. It’s a very light, atmospheric track, driven largely by its chorus, which is unbelievably epic and catchy, even by Sabaton standards, and once again has some amazing lyrics and vocals.

Perhaps the heaviest track of the album is “Hellfighters”, where the guitars have an extra kick to them, with a very slight thrash feel, and the track stays at a high tempo throughout, with even the chorus being very heavy and guitar driven, while still having some excellent vocal melodies and being quite engaging and memorable. It’s one of the shortest songs here, but also one of the most entertaining, and it’s definitely a personal favorite. Next is “Race to the Sea”, the kind of mid tempo, epic track the band has always excelled at, where the bass and drums again give the track a strong march feel, and I especially find the rhythm section to be fantastic during the chorus, where everything comes together, for one of the highlights of the entire album. The track very much feels like it would have fit in perfectly on The Art of War, with a perfect mix of light guitar work, a beautiful solo, some epic keys and symphonic arrangements, awesome choir vocals, and of course amazing lead vocals as always. Following that is “Lady of the Dark”, another slower, lighter track, though the guitars do still have a slight kick to them, but it’s very much driven by the lyrics and vocal melodies, which are absolutely fantastic, particularly the chorus which is insanely catchy and one of the most melodic choruses on the album, which is saying a lot.

Moving close to the finish line, “The Valley of Death” is probably the lightest of the up tempo tracks here, with the guitar work being very epic and melodic, while the keys provide extra flavor and are quite prominent. The track very much reminds of the band’s “Metal Trilogy”, just like “82nd All the Way” from The Great War, though this track is perhaps a tiny bit slower and more melodic than that one. It’s a very catchy track, with fun verses and yet another fantastic chorus, while the lyrics are of course great as usual. The last normal song on the album is also the first single “Christmas Truce”, one which absolutely blew me away on first listen, and it’s only better when heard on the album. The story behind it is quite beautiful, the lyrics are absolutely inspiring, and the song itself is a very nice power ballad, very much driven by piano and vocals, especially on the opening verse, though the full band does kick in on time for the chorus, and track gets slightly heavier as it goes along. For the most part, though, it’s more about the overall atmosphere, as well as the keys, the epic backing vocals and the absolutely incredible chorus, which may very well be my all time favorite by Sabaton, with how epic, catchy and beautiful it is, and it must be said, Joakim Brodén sounds particularly inspired on this track, even by his standards. It’s certainly an amazing track, and the perfect way to lead into the aforementioned closing track.

It’s tough to say exactly where The War to End All Wars ranks among my personal favorite Sabaton albums, but needless to say, the band has fully delivered once again, providing several more epic war themed power metal anthems, as well as another one of their most powerful and cohesive albums from a conceptual viewpoint. There’s a bit of something for everyone here, with some fast and heavy tracks, some soft and lighter tracks, and quite a few in between. It’s one of the band’s most varied albums to date, as well as having some of their catchiest choruses and best lyrics to date. Longtime fans should be very pleased with the album, while newcomers should easily be able to enjoy the album as well, as it’s a perfect example of everything that makes the band special. Sabaton is one of those bands where I can listen to their music pretty much any day, regardless of what kind of mood I’m in, and it’ll instantly cheer me up and keep me fully engaged., Needless to say, The War to End All Wars is no exception!

 

Ratings: 10/10

Written by: Travis Green

My Global Mind – Staff Writer

Travis Green is a Canadian based writer for My Global Mind, with a particular passion for power metal, as well as an interest metal in all its forms.

 

Tell Us How You Feel

Comments