Company: Black Lodge Release: 2008 Genre: Power Reviewer: Raising Iron
Power metal with a bit of bombast
After the release of 2008's The Art of War, Sabaton more than deserve to be on a major metal label to get some much more needed promotion. The band continue with their dissection and disposition of all things related to war, but on this release, they construct a unique spin on the idea of a concept album.
For the unstudied, The Art of War is actually an infamous book written by the Chinese mathematician, Sun Tzu, somewhere in the 4th century B.C. The premise is built into 13 chapters, each revealing an aspect of military strategy based on Taoist beliefs. What Sabaton have done is written 13 tracks, each based on chapter of the book. What makes this album slightly more unique is not that they wrote songs directly about a chapter from the book, but rather they wrote songs about actual, historical military conflicts that were fought using the principles described in a given chapter.
Enough of the history lesson and lyrical content though, let's get on to the hearty ration of music on the march here. The thing that's instantly striking about this release is the prominent placement of keyboards in the song structures; they don't necessarily dominate the songs, but they are up front and bear the breaks in the songs between one section and the next, yet the guitars are still heavy, prevalent, and carry the day. The Swedish accent and gruff tone of vocalist Joakim Broden lends an air of authenticity to the stories, especially with his forcefully rolled "rrr's". The entire campaign is wrapped up in an accelerated, mid-paced procession of traditional heavy/power metal. The songs are quite catchy, especially come chorus time, and capture the stories well. The huge choruses in "Panzerkampf" and "The Price of a Mile", will have you singing along in no time, and have to become cornerstones of their live show. There really isn't a bad song on here; there being an actual ten of them, while the remaining three tracks are short, female spoken word. Other songs begin or end with similar short spoken word sections, giving a quick description as to the theory of the given chapter, and whilst the songs are good, they're covering heavily trampled terrain, as there's nothing truly new or ground-breaking with this disc.
The cd can be ordered in traditional jewel case version, or if you're looking to learn a bit more, there is a deluxe edition available which comes with a copy of the book. If you're already familiar with Sabaton, you're sure to like this, as it's easily their best work yet, and if straight up, heavy, power metal with a bit of bombast is youre tactical choice, these soldiers will win you over!
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