Thoughts on the new sabaton album "The Great War"

so somehow the new sabaton album (about WW1, as the name implies,) escaped my attention for like two months, which is sayin' something because i fucking love sabaton as both a history nerd and a metal fan. anyways, i've listened to it like three times today (or rather, the day i wrote most of this which was like weeks ago now) 'cause i had to drive about a fair bit, and also just sat down to quiely enjoy it again. here's my thoughts about each song. hopefully my writing/memory isn't too crappy, i've been hellishly busy with moving.

The Future of Warfare

very solid introduction to the album, about the introduction of modern armoured landships, or "tanks," to the battlefield at the Battle of Flers-Courcelette in 1916 as 32 Mark Is rolled out onto the battlefield, and also about the Battle of Villers-Bretonneux in 1918 when the war saw its first tank vs tank battle when 3 Mark IVs engaged 3 A7Vs (which is quite something, because the germans only made something like 28 A7Vs and only 20 of them were fielded - fun fact, the sole surviving A7V, Mephisto, is at the Australian War Memorial!)

the song does a good job of conveying that creeping, powerful, somewhat unreliable feeling of early tanks, which often had a top speed of like 5-15kph depending on the model and loadout. the lyrics focus heavily also on mechanized warfare's early benefits - something immune to small arms fire, that could roll over barbed wire, and sometimes even trenches. really like this one, it has a lot of power behind it and starts off with a very "classic sabaton" feel.

Seven Pillars of Wisdom


ok sorry had to get my excitement out, not only is this song fucking amazing, like best on the album in my opinion, it's a song about a pet subject of mine, a fucking fascinating part of WW1. as soon as i spotted the title i felt my heart jump a beat - a song about the Arab Revolt, Lawrence of Arabia, and the sabotage of the Hejaz Railway!!!

as sabaton is usually quite good at doing, the song does a fantastic job of conveying the feel of the subject, but beyond that it's a really fucking good song. i've listened to the album three times today, but i think i've listened to this song like ten times at least.

it even has lyrics about the deception of the Sykes-Picot Agreement! like goddamn, what more can i possibly ask for?

82nd All the Way

following that fantastic song is a song on a subject i actually didn't know about (well, the man Sergeant Alvin York, i know a good amount about the Meuse-Argonne Offensive.) the song is about an american draftee who led 16 men behind enemy lines, assaulting a german HQ and a machine gun position - 6 were killed and 3 were wounded, so he ordered the remaining 7 to watch over the prisoners, advancing on the MG position alone, he was charged by six germans with bayonets, who he shot with his pistol.

the german liutenant emptied his pistol at york, who was battling with the machine guns, but failing to injure him, surrendered. york and his remaining men (all 10 of them) marched back with 132 prisoners. god damn. as an interesting aside, he was a part of the 82nd divison, which would become 82nd Airborne in WW2, the division commanded by James M. Gavin, referenced within the song - "it's 82nd all the way, death from above, what they now say."

the song itself is pretty good, i especially like the chorus. it kind of reminds me of some earlier sabaton songs, which is a good thing, while still being stand out enough to be unique.

The Attack of the Dead Men

the russians in world war one getting some respect! this song refers to a stunning incident at the Battle of the Osowiec Fortress when the german division advancing on the chlorine gassed and shelled fortress were surprised and routed by a counter bayonet charge of about a hundred "dead" russians.

disfigured, vomiting blood, coughing up pieces of their own lungs, they pushed back a german force about 70x the size, and spawned legends about "unkillable russian soldiers" (which reminds me of william hoffman's diary from stalingrad in WW2, "The Russians are not men, but some kind of cast-iron creatures; they never get tired and are not afraid of fire.")

the song itself is very good, not much else to say about it than that, i like it.

Devil Dogs

the "devil dogs" were, by my own memory, a german nickname for the americans during world war 2, owing to their ferocity, marksmanship, and (sometimes practically suicidal) bravery. a smile crept across my face hearing the line from one of my favourite WW1 stories, when (again by my own memory) an american sergeant got frustrated seeing the "cowardly" trench tactics, stood up under enemy fire, and yelled "Come on, you sons of bitches, do you want to live forever?!"

the song does a fantastic job once again of giving the feel of its subject, and is the type of sabaton song i really like, adrenaline pumping.

The Red Baron

ok let me get the good out of the way first, holy shit finally, a song about Manfred von Richthofen, "The Red Baron." do i even need to explain who this guy is? he might be the most well known fighter ace of all time, and is the top fighter ace of any nation during WW1.

but... i just don't like the song that much! the start is a bit weird, i get what they're going for with the prussian baroque styling don't get me wrong, but the weird electronic shit they did to it sounds bleh and the song... all i can ever remember from it is "highERRRR!" - much of the song isn't memorable and kinda feels bland. by my third listen of the album, i found myself wanting to just skip this one.

as far as sabaton air warfare songs, also, it just doesn't capture the feel the way, say, Aces in Exile or Firestorm do. i know those are based in WW2 and they were probably going for something a bit different, but it just doesn't hit the mark for me.

Great War

this is easily in second changed my mind, more on that soon... third place as far as "favourite song on the album" goes. this is a song that falls in the "Price of a Mile" category. i absolutely love how the chorus ends with The war to end all wars - because it's easy to forget in the modern day where we know what's coming up after that that's how this was sold to the people fighting it.

"The Great War" was the death of a world. it didn't just literally kill a lot of people, it figuratevly killed an entire generation. idealism and optimism were replaced with revolution and cynicism as the end of the war pretty much all but ensured that there'd be a sequel (and let's not forget, what with the song "Seven Pillars of Wisdom" on the album, that we're still feeling the effects of WW1 agreements to this day.)

A Ghost in the Trenches

this is a song about the deadliest sniper of world war one, canadian soldier Francis Pegahmagabow. i'll admit i don't know a ton about the guy, but he served the entire war (1914 until the treaty of versillaies was signed in 1919) and is credited with killing 378 germans and capturing 300 which needless to say is a lot for one guy.

as far as the song goes, it's alright, but definitiely not amongst my favourites in the album. i feel like White Death, the song about finnish legend Simo Häyhä, does a better job of conveying the "sniper" feeling via song, though Francis reportedly liked to creep from trench to trench alone as the song states, so maybe i'm not giving the song enough credit.

Fields of Verdun

i mean if you have an album about world war one you have to have a song about verdun, i think it's like, law or something. the longest battle in the war - 303 days! in a 31km² area! 306,000 men dead, that is approx 9800 per square km, or 15700 per square mile! over a million shells to start it off! verdun is pretty much the most wartorn area of the war, to this day it looks like some sort of alien planet with tiny hills pocking the land all over the place - shell craters.

the song itself kicks ass, i really like this one. what else can i even say? verdun might be one of the most hellish conditions soldiers have ever faced in history, with probably only stalingrad in WW2 competing for that shitty title.

The End of the War to End All Wars

i said i changed my mind earlier, and here it is, my second favourite song on the album. it's just so fucking powerful. if "Great War" does a good job of displaying the futility of "the war to end all wars," this song does a fucking fantastic job.

it's hard to convey to those not versed in history just how much things changed, because you hear about the atrocious amount of dead, wounded, or missing in world war one and kinda shrug and think "yep, that's war" - forgetting that a mere hundred or so years earlier, Napoleon was bragging that he expends 30,000 men a month. he was bragging this because he brought a new type of army to the battlefield - the people in arms. an entire nation-state dedicated to war.

meanwhile, and again this is by memory, but i'm pretty sure during the battle of the frontiers the french are losing roughly 40,000 men a day. (casualties, not dead, again iirc.) 15-20 million people died in four years, a ton of them were civilians and a ton more were draftees. the culture worldwide was permenately altered, and the instabilities caused by the war not only lead pretty much directly to world war two, but are still ongoing.

as far as the song goes, my favourite part is roughly 2:30 in, with the chanting. it's got a lot of power behind it, but instead of being about some sort of daring tale, it's about the absolute futility and pointlessness of modern warfare between huge powers. i love this song a whole lot and if not for the existence of Seven Pillars of Wisdom it'd easily make my favourite on the album.

In Flanders Fields

not much to say about this one, it's a really nice reading of a well known poem by canadian soldier Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae.

Overall Thoughts

it's a new sabaton album, of course i like it. they'd have to practically try to make a bad album, and i listen to all of their historical albums regularly (nothing against Metalizer / Fist for Fight but i just prefer the historical albums)

one thing i didn't mention in each respective song is that the songs, often in their guitar solos, often reference classical music of the era. i didn't really bring it up because ashamedly, i don't really know what any of the songs are (the one in Fields of Verdun kills me because i've got "tip of the tongue" syndrome trying to remember what song it is but cannot for the life of me remember)

so then, where would i rank this in respect to sabaton's historical albums? i like them all nearly equally, but the one i've listened to the most (i don't even wanna know how many times) is Carolus Rex, specifically the swedish version, with my favourite song on the album being Karolinens Bön (which is The Carolean's Prayer on the english version)

apart from that, however, i kinda don't listen to the albums in their entirety very often but just have them all on repeat, with the exception of when a new album comes out like this. as far as their recent albums, i honestly don't think i like this album quite as much as The Last Stand but I put it about on par with Heroes.

anyways, that's it! i might write up my thoughts on sabaton's other albums sometimes, because i really do like the band, but i'm not really a "music review" kinda guy so i dunno. i'm just a dude who listens to music, if you disagree, my opinion ain't worth shit so don't worry!

wait!! a single also came out while you weren't looking!!


well shit, i might as well include this too! i'll get this out of the way before i write anything about the song itself: i am not a naval history guy. i will happily talk your ears off about a bunch of milhist subjects - infantry, cavalry, air power, armour (tanks/AFVs/etc,) artillery, whatever, but for some reason naval shit just makes me wanna take a nap, i find it dull and boring.

that said, this song is fuckin' fantastic. it's about the german battleship Bismarck (i think it's just Bismarck, and that nazi germany didn't have any sort of HMS/USS equivalent? see, this is how little i know about naval history.) which is one of the biggest battleships ever built in europe, and was sunk after an intense hunt in 1941.

aaaand that's about all i know! i really am sorry, but they've caught me on the subject i know the least about. at least it's a battleship and not a u-boat or something, god damn if i ever write a piece on Primo Victoria my commentary for Wolfpack is basically gonna be "uhhhhhhh, they sunk a convoy of ships real good or somethin'"

anyway, this time that really is it. i hope you liked my long-ass article about the new sabaton album + bonus single. maybe if i feel like it i'll write about their other albums sometime!

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