As with anything Sabaton, I was chomping at the bit to sink my teeth into their newest album “The War to End All Wars” that debuted March 4th, 2022 via Nuclear Blast and is the 10th studio album from the band. Power Metal (now deemed Arena/Stadium Metal by some) is blessed when these Historical Haymakers drop a new track, let alone an entire album. After a taste of not one but 3 singles, I was hyped to hear what the rest of the album had to offer.
“Sarajevo” kicks off the album with a speech-mixed ballad that talks about how the Austro-Hungarian Empire had been a powerful influence over Europe for the past several decades and the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo. “It’s a war that will end all war” comes in as a strong and powerful line against an eerie melody. Battering drums keep rhythm while bass strums along, guitars taking the rise for vocals when needed, and calming to carry the beat.
The follow-up is called “Stormtroopers” and no, it is not about the aimless soldiers clad in white from the Star Wars universe, these were specially trained men, supposedly handpicked by the Kaiser, and armed to the teeth. They were Germany’s human equivalent to the Tank – a weapon on two-legs that nearly brought victory to the Germans in WWI.
In respect to that horrific status, the track displays raw and rigid guitar solos through its solid introduction. It’s catchy and memorable, driving impact again and again with heavy-hitting drums and fearless riffs that easily make it one of the best off the album. Rhythmically and musically, it’s a perfect speed to head-bang to and force fists into the air from the get-go.
“Dreadnought” comes in right after with the sound of waves battering down against sheer steel one of admiration. It has common Sabaton drums that introduce the track to us that marks the beginning of synchronized movement and beat. Like oars on the water, it’s fluid, steady and slow but, strong in its retelling.
The song tells the story of the Battle of Jutland and the only major encounter between the main British and German fleets in WWI. Fought in the arm of the North Sea near Skagerrak between May and June in 1916, the Germans 16 dreadnought-type battleships stood little chance of winning a battle against the Royal Navy’s 28, and thus attempted their divide and conquer strategy hoping to lure the British Fleet into battle and trap them. However, due to British interception, it was the British cruisers that lured the Germans towards the Grand Fleet, resulting in heavy losses in the initial fight. It was just before dusk that the fleets of Britain and Germany then came to blows.
Next is “The Unkillable Soldier” and “Soldier of Heaven” that I, of course, reviewed the MOMENT they dropped over on YouTube earlier this year so click the links below to check them out!
The track “Hellfighters” tells the story of the 369th infantry also known as the “Harlem Hellfighters” as nicknamed by their German enemy in WWI. They were an all-black military unit from the United States serving the front lines and spending more than 6 months in combat, serving more than any other American Unit. As segregation was still prominent in the US, they were sent to join their French allies who welcomed them with open arms.
This intense track lays down the weight for the history behind it and the deep impact its had throughout American and World history. It’s fast, with heavy-hitting instrumentals and low, deep vocals that almost has a Hammerfall “Hearts on Fire” note to its tune. The chorus is catchy as per Sabaton tradition, and keeps the energy flowing throughout the entirety of this fiery track.
“Race to the Sea” felt rhythmically off on first listen but, seems to be that way to represent the panic and desperation of the lyrics.
As the song grows, so does its infectious nature albeit being a slower track. “A cog in the war machine,” and “we’ll never let them have it all” are lyrical markers that cut deep with the history of this track leaving for an inspirational chorus and a beautifully crafted guitar solo that stick.
Milunka Savic CMG, a Serbian War heroine who fought in the Balkan Wars and WWI – the subject of Sabaton’s “Lady in the Dark”. She is the most decorated female combatant in the recorded history of Warfare and in 1912, after her brother received call up orders to mobilize and she chose to go in his place, cutting her hair and donning men’s clothing to look the part.
This is my favourite track off the album for its raw metal energy and lyrical strength. “Lies to be respected, and to change her brother’s fate. Took a bullet, earned her freedom, and a place among the stars,” are no simple lyrical composition; the depth of song-writing on this track not only demands respect for its creation but, for its history as well. It skillfully displays the courage and philanthropy behind not one but, many brave soldiers who fought throughout WWI and more often not for glory but, for their loved ones.
“The Valley of Death” has a lighter beat and feels more in the Power Metal genre. It’s a steady track that serves well as a calmer, but, relentless song in its historical retelling and creation. It sings about the Battle of Doiran, and how four attacks during the 8th and 9th of May the British were defeated and suffered enormous casualties. The soldiers called the ‘Boris’ point the ‘Valley of Death’ as a breakthrough battle in Bulgarian positions resulted in the Bulgarians ultimately pushing relentless artillery barrages on the British to force defeat.
“Christmas Truce” is one of the first tracks I reviewed, which you can find below, and it remains as one of my favourites.
The final track, “Versailles” remarks the Germans signing a treaty, taking full responsibility for WWI. Signed on June 28th of 1919, it officially brought an end to the war between Germany and the Allied Forces. It’s a historical ballad, adding in a touching speech that remarks the treaty and its impact on the world and its history, including its existence as a major contributing factor that brought about WWII. A powerful end to this wonderfully expressive album with, naturally, a crushing guitar solo and radiant high notes that go deep and settle on your soul. A track that compliments the introductory track, “Sarajevo”.
If you’ve come into this album as a new fan, you’re sure to be back-tracking immediately to hear the rest of the epic albums Sabaton has released for us. As a long-time fan, I’ve no doubt there’s a few tracks on here that have been put onto your Workout playlist, or a daily playlist at the very least because this album has more than a couple bangers. Not only does Sabaton continue to teach us historical lessons but, they do so in metal fashion, consistently offering up a showcase of powerful ballads, hellfire tracks, and musical prowess that hunkers down in our hearts and minds to be replayed even in our dreams.
Favourite Tracks: Lady in the Dark, Soldier of Heaven, Stormtroopers.
Get your own copy of “The War to End All Wars” here alongside a TON of new merch!