The Five Stormtroopers reviewing Sabaton- The War to End All Wars: Thobbe Englund

9/10

Conflict of interest? Of course.
Objective? Impossible.
Credibility? I’ll give you and the band one hundred percent honesty.

First I’d like to start with the songs, the music.
How many times can you re-invent the wheel? That is usually my instinctive first question these days as soon as I stumble over the latest album by the latest heavy metal acts of today. It’s not easy to carve out anything fresh and “new” from that old heavy metal block anymore. At the end of the day we (in western music) are limited to just seven notes per scale when it comes to major and minor. Eleven plus octave if you get really progressive. To combine these notes into a unique metal riff or melodic figure is somewhat doomed to fail because of the fact that mathematics has a limit to the number of alternatives. Then there’s of course also that little detail; the wish for it to sound good and catchy.

Basically what I am aiming at is that humanity is kind of running out of musical ideas due to mathematics.

Nevertheless.

To be able to get a somewhat musically tired and blunted fellow musician excited over yet another Sabaton album can be a tough case. However, the thing here is that despite the above mentioned I honestly feel excited enough after listening to the first track to continue with a somewhat higher pulse and a need to hear more. Much more really.
When the last song ends I find it safe to say that Jocke and the band made it – once again, and here’s why:

Sometimes Jockes amazing ability to find new paths in the the same old forrest while at the same time managing to keep the listener interested impress me. In this case which is “War to End all Wars”, Jocke is my hiking comerade and we’re deep in the woods exploring interesting paths. Though with familiar surroundings it still feels exciting, and I am from the first step curious to keep on walking.
Jocke has an almost contagious positive spirit that together with Jonas Kjellgren (producer) and the boys in the band opens up for a very pleasant walk in the woods, which at first glance didn’t seem more than a bunch of trees.

Here are my very first spontaneous reflections over each song:

Sarajevo – Dark, progressive. Do I need to say tight? Great solo in the end in the style of Gary Moore. Hmmm, wonder who laid that one down? Promising first track for sure.

Stormtroopers – At first the opening guitar figure is a bit yawning. Been done a million times. But then something happens. How is it that Sabaton always deliver something that you can’t really put your finger on but makes you love it? The song kicks in and I get goose bumps. Yes. Sabaton is back! Love the chorus and the Yngwie Malmsteen-like solo. Demon Driver!!

Dreadnought – A riff that sticks to your head for a long time. Bad ass progressive beat with more than a regular 4/4. Brave and well done! Lots of air in the mix and space for musical drama. Nice chorus. This one goes up there in the top of my list.

Unkillable Soldier – I really like how they scale back on the guitars in the chorus, a playful approach which connects a galloping rhythm section with dynamics. Hannes playing is delicate. He has this wonderful ability to scale down and push forward just at the right moment and place.

Soldier of Heaven – The chorus can make anyone cry. I really like the 80s feeling and Chris is delivering an amazing solo.

Hellfighters – The opening riff immediately takes me back to my childhood, to my room with a big poster of Megadeth. Makes me think of Rust in Peace. What a solo!!

The Race to the Sea – Classic Sabaton, pure and simple. If I were to pick one song that could explain Sabaton to a Martian this would be a great candidate.

Lady of the Dark – Pretty ok, but it doesn’t really cut it for me. Somehow the song doesn’t take off, not bad but nothing special. Weakest song on the album in my opinion.

Valley of Death – My god!! What a riff of honor and might! Pumping song that guitar wise makes me think of Jake E. Lee. From an overall musical standpoint I think of Rocky IV meets Bark at the Moon. Chris playing is sick and his Adrian Smith influences are really showing in this fantastic and very tasteful solo. I love this track! The best one!!

Christmas Truce – Simply beautiful, scaled down and emotional. I loved it the very first time I heard it, on a parking lot in Pärs car here in Falun when he played me a not yet finnished version. Loved the video as well.

Versailles – Great and emotional ending. The war is over. Or is it? Majestic and suggestive. Will there perhaps be a sequel?

The production.

The guitars are, as always, spot on. Technically highly advanced and complicated playing mixed with colorful and emotional feeling. Good job guys! Tommy has a bit more grit to his playing while Chris is more like the surgeon of seven strings. He’s an evil machine, never losing steam.
The bass is tight, sits great in the mix and it’s just perfect.

Jockes voice sounds a bit more ripe and raw sometimes. He has great control over his unique voice and I really like the small nuances he lets shine through like in the second verse of Dreadnought.

The drums. Hannes is like a wall of rocks to lean against. During the hundreds of shows we’ve done together he has never failed a song. He’s whipping the drums, pushing hard when it is called for and brings it down where there is room. I’ve always been a sucker for his hi-hat playing. I’d never confuse Hannes with another drummer.

The production overall is in a contradictory kind of way both scaled down and majestic at the same time. The album has a sound that is closer and more intimate than before. What I really like is that there isn’t a single unnecessary element in the mix. The guitar distortion is just about enough, the reverb and delay settings are tame but still there to make it big enough, drums sit like a glove in the mix and the vocals are perfectly balanced. Jonas Kjellgren as producer together with the boys deliver a more dynamic album both in performace and production, a great team work that is a new found Sabaton sound in my opinion.
The War to end all Loudness Wars?

Best track on the album – (The) Valley of Death. So damn good song. Highly addictive riff and chorus, and the solo is so incredible beautiful that I got all emotional. A song for heroes! On top of that Bulgaria is very close to my heart.
Weakest track on the album – Lady of the Dark. A bit dull and mediocre song that doesn’t give me that wow-feeling.

Artist: Sabaton
Title: The War to End All Wars
Label: Nuclear Blast
Date of release: 4/3-2022
Rate: 9/10
Country of origin: Sweden
Stand out track: The Valley Of Death

 

The Five Stormtroopers reviewing Sabaton- The War to End All Wars: Thobbe Englund

March 2, 2022

Jocke has an almost contagious positive spirit that together with Jonas Kjellgren (producer) and the boys in the band opens up for a very pleasant walk in the woods, which at first glance didn't seem more than a bunch of trees.

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