Wilco : War. A horrific creation of men. Animals kill to feed, men kill for personal benefit, religion or another stupid reason. The misery caused by war in the 10,000 years we walk this planet is not imaginable. However, war, as terrible as it is, has always been a source of inspiration for filmmakers, writers and of course musicians. Big acts like U2, Genesis and Simpe Minds have all written their own war stories. A lot of metalacts also use war as a lyrical content, think of well known songs like 'One' by Metallica, 'The Longest Day', 'Paschendale' by Iron Maiden and 'Angel Of Death' by Slayer. Some metalacts even dedicate all their work to war, best known example of this is probably Bolt Thrower. But these days Sabaton gets better known all over the world too. Their albums 'Primo Victoria' and 'Attero Dominatus' were filled with war-based heavy metal songs. Now it is time for the new album: 'The Art Of War'. Based on the ancient, eastern book with the same title.
The tracks are forged into one by a lady with an inappropriate voice, she seems to be taken out of a video game. This does not support the atmosphere the band wants to show. However, this ends with the first fist in your face; 'Ghost Division'. What an entrance! This sounds intimidating, militaristic and it stays in your head. 'The Art Of War' is less heavy, but quite epic with striking, catchy keyboards. '40:1' tells us about the heroic fight Polish soldiers made during the invasion of their country. They were outnumbered by 40 to 1. This song is a little more emotional, but is less impressive as the previous ones. At 'Cliffs Of Galipoli' you can hear that singer Joakim is not that talented. This luckily doesn't show long before he uses his normal, growling voice, but not a grunt… After dedicating 'Talvisota' to the brave Finnish soldiers who made the Winter-war into a hell for Russian soldiers we hear the absolute pearl of the album, until now: 'Panzerkampf'. Telling us about the biggest tank battle that ever took place (Battle at Kursk, 1943, 5.000 tanks) this songs stifles you. The chorus is very impressive, heavy, completed with choirs. This chorus will never leave your mind, unless it is replaced by the central part of this song that is probably even more impressive. 'Into the motherland, the German army march!' The lyrics give you shivers, shivers that won't leave with 'Union (Slopes Of Sint Benedict). Telling us about the fierce fight of the allied forces on the slopes under the monastery of Monte Casino, this song is more emotional with very catchy riffs and guitar melodies. After this song, the most impressive, dark, beautiful one of the album presents itself: 'The Price Of A Mile'. The lyrics are accompanied by most dramatic melodies, choirs and heavy riffs. 'Thousands of feet march to the beat, it's an army on the march, long way, from home, paying their price in young men's lives'. 'Stuck in a trench with no way out….' The chorus is that strong that you are almost taken into the battle in which over 50.000 (!) men died every hour (!!) during the end of World War I. The total destruction and immeasurable grief drips out of the speakers. Wow, this song rules! After plunging you into grief and melancholy the band gives you a rude awakening by 'Firestorm', a song about the use of firebombs. I am not sure, but I got the impression this track is about the outrageous bombing of the beautiful city of Dresden by the RAF and the US-Airfotce. In the firestorm caused by the bombs the entire city was destroyed and more than 35.000 people died. This song is one of the heaviest and fiercest of the album, next to 'Ghost Devision'. The horrifying lyrics complete the total dramatic picture: 'Burn! Burn! Rage of the heavens, burn ! burn! Death from above, DIE! DIE! merciless killing, burn! burn! Death from above'.
Apart form the unsuitable spoken parts of the lady (these parts really do not add anything and are superfluous) this album is better than its predecessors. Why? Because the songs are better, more technical, choirs, solos and better melodies. Very positive are also the guitars that are more prominent. Strong elements are the keyboards, which sound aggressive now and then. They are used as a core instrument, not as decoration. Don't be afraid, Sabaton still serves blunt powermetal. No symphonic powermetal. Of course, technically this is not a very special album with excellent musical arts, but listening to this album brings so much joy and emotion that I can only reward them with a high score. If you get a chance, you have to see them. These songs will have huge impact when played live.