SABATON — The Art Of War

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SABATON - The Art Of War cover
4.42 | 9 ratings | 1 review
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Album · 2008

Filed under Power Metal
By SABATON

Tracklist

1. Sun Tzu Says (0:23)
2. Ghost Division (3:51)
3. The Art Of War (5:08)
4. 40:1 (4:10)
5. Unbreakable (5:58)
6. The Nature Of Warfare (1:18)
7. Cliffs Of Gallipoli (5:51)
8. Talvisota (3:32)
9. Panzerkampf (5:15)
10. Union (Slopes Of St. Benedict) (4:05)
11. The Price Of A Mile (5:55)
12. Firestorm (3:25)
13. A Secret (0:37)

Total Time: 49:35

Line-up/Musicians

- Joakim Broden / vocals and keyboards
- Rikard Sunden / guitars
- Oskar Montelius / guitars
- Par Sundstrom / bass
- Daniel Mullback / drums
- Daniel Mÿhr / keyboards

Guest musicians:

- Calle Sandlund / Piano
- Christian Ericsson / Vocals (additional)
- Hannele Junkala / Vocals (backing)
- Björn Lundqvist / Vocals (additional)
- Mia Mullback / Vocals (backing)
- Thomas Nyström / Vocals (additional)
- Åsa Österlund / Vocals (backing)
- Hjalle Östman / Vocals (additional)
- Marie-Louise Strömqvist / Vocals (backing)

About this release

Release date: May 30, 2008
Label: Black Lodge

Re-released by Nuclear Blast on September 24, 2010 under the name "The Art of War - Re-Armed Edition" with 4 bonus tracks:
14. Swedish Pagans (4:13)
15. Glorious Land (3:19)
16. Art Of War (Pre Production Demo)(4:48)
17. Swedish National Anthem (Live At Sweden Rock Festival)(2:34)

Thanks to progshine, DippoMagoo, diamondblack, Unitron for the updates

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SABATON THE ART OF WAR reviews

Specialists/collaborators reviews

DippoMagoo
There are some albums that take a long time to fully open up and show themselves to be amazing. And then there are albums like The Art of War, the third full length album from Swedish power metal band Sabaton, that just completely blow your mind right on the first listen, immediately proving themselves to be masterpieces, with subsequent listens only managing to somehow impress you even further. During my early days of exploring Sabaton's discography, I found myself largely impressed by most of their material, but the one album that always impressed me the most and left me blown away every time, was The Art of War, both because of how well it takes its over arching concept and connects it so perfectly to the music, and because of how damn catchy and impressive every single song on the album is. In short, while their later album Heroes may be their most addictive album as well as my most played album in quite some time, this one is probably their most impressive and most consistently awesome release to date.

While their first two albums laid the foundation for the band's sound, The Art of War is the album where they really broke through and where their formula was fully unleashed in all its glory, with future albums trying to match it, and not quite getting there. Everything from the speedier tracks to the more mid paced affairs, all feel like the beginnings of tracks the bands would make on later albums, but here they're all executed to perfection. Gone is the darker tone of the previous release, as while the album does have some heavier sections, it's a more melodic and much more triumphant and heroic sounding album on the whole, with even the songs dealing with sad situations sounding lighter and more epic than most tracks on their first two releases. This album felt like the perfect middle ground between the speedier sound of their debut and the slower sound found on Carolus Rex and both albums they've done since, with a nice variety to the tracks, and everything is done perfectly. The album is based around an ancient Chinese military treatise titled The Art of War, written by Sun Tzu, with each track being focused on a particular chapter from the book. In between songs, a woman briefly narrates quotes from the book, which gives extra context to the tracks and I find this to be quite cool, as it adds an extra layer to the songs, and I think these quotes fit in perfectly with the lyrics of the songs, making the already epic and at times emotional lyrics of the album all the more powerful. In fact, while Sabaton has always had some epic lyrics, I find this album to be their best in that area, as some of the tracks are surprisingly very emotional and touching, and they do a great job of showing the effects war can have on people.

Of course, one area where the band always delivers is the vocals, and Joakim Brodén is in top form here, sounding very smooth and very powerful at the same time. His signature deep and powerful vocals are in full force and his delivery is even smoother than on Attero Dominatus, with his vocals on the more melodic sections being absolutely perfect and really adding some extra power to melodies and choruses that are already fantastic. He truly is the star of the band, and this album definitely proves that, once again.

While some Sabaton albums took a bit of time to grow on me, The Art of War is definitely not one of them, as it blew me away right from the first listen and hasn't let up in the least ever since. It's their one album where every song already impressed me on first listen, and I always enjoyed the narrations, as they're brief, effective and add a bit of extra context to the tracks, without ever getting in the way, so it was always a perfect album for me in every way possible. The album starts off with a brief narration track that introduces the concept, before launching into the first full song “Ghost Division”, which is an absolute killer. Opening with an awesome drum roll, the track quickly speeds up, with its triumphant sounding keyboards and heavy riffs at the front of the mix, and it charges along with some great melodies and an excellent performance from Joakim. The verses and keyboard solo are certainly awesome, but the best part is the chorus, which is not only catchy, but also super heroic and just plain badass, opening with the excellent line “We are the panzer elite, born to compete, never retreat, Ghost Division.” It's extremely hard to write lyrics that cool and awesome, but someone Sabaton always manages to do it again and again, though even by their standards, this track is one of their absolute best.

Next is the title track, which again has some nice narrations, before the keyboards take over and it turns into the kind of mid pace track the band has excelled at since “Wolfpack” on their debut, though here it's more polished and fully fleshed out, with some nice rhythms during the verses and the chorus is absolutely fantastic. It's definitely a song they've attempted to outdo on future albums, but this is one of their best mid paced tracks, for sure. After that is the super speedy “40:1”, which briefly teases at its chorus before quickly speeding up and turning into one of the heavier, speedier and more guitar driven songs on the album, definitely having more of a classic power metal feel to it, though the keyboards are still very much present, Joakim sounds very energetic throughout the track, and the chorus is super addictive, super badass and super catchy, once again. The closest thing the album has to a slow burn is “Unbreakable”, which starts out fairly slowly, with some nice guitar melodies and moves at a slow pace throughout most of its duration, with Joakim dominating on vocals, and it has a great chorus, of course, bu then in the second half the pace suddenly speeds up dramatically and from there the music gets intense and super epic, and it becomes the kind of super fun and epic track Sabaton are best at, though it's more complicated than anything they've done since, and is also a clear highlight. After another brief narration track, we get “Cliffs of Gallipoli”, which has a slightly playful sound to it, with some theatrical sounding piano sounds used throughout the verses, and it's actually one of the more emotional songs here, with Joakim sounding very powerful and talking about the death of war heroes and people mourning their loss, and its sung with such passion, it's hard not to feel it. Easily one of the best on the album, with an incredible chorus, despite also being quite sad. Even the guitar solo in the middle is very emotional, and again it reaches heights the band, or any band really, can rarely ever manage to reach.

The pace picks up again on “Talvisota”, another speedier, heavier and more classic power metal feeling song, with epic choirs during the verses, and it has a very heroic sound to it, like a typical Sabaton track. After what comes before it, the track definitely gives off a burst of energy and is yet another highlight. After that is “Panzerkampf”, one of the slower and heavier songs on the album and has a slightly darker tone than most tracks here, though it's still more melodic than most songs on Attero Dominatus, and it has another excellent chorus, with slightly harder hitting vocals and rhtyhms than normal. Another highlight is next in “Union (Slopes of Benedict”, a fairly upbeat and slightly folk infused track, which sounds happy and triumphant compared to some tracks on the album, with an extremely epic and super catchy chorus. It manages to fit the bands sound perfectly, while still sounding unique, and is definitely another easy favorite, with the folk melodies adding an extra layer to an already amazing track.

Nearing the end of the album, my favorite and perhaps the single most powerful song the band has ever done is next in “The Price of a Mile”, a slow but very hard hitting track, with some of the heaviest riffs on the album. It has a similar sound to the title track, except its riffs hit harder and it just feels all the more epic, with Joakim again delivering some very emotional vocals, and the lyrics are again very sad and a bit tough to take, but they're delivered so damn well. The line where the song's name showed up in particular is just amazing, while the chorus is absolutely incredible and probably their best to date. Overall it's simply a stunning, powerful track that the band has tried to recreate many times, but not quite managed to match it. After such a somber track, it makes sense that the band would speed things up one more time before ending the album, with “Firestorm” being an absolute scorcher of a track, moving at a frantic pace and having more heavy riffs, great melodies and a super intense and addictive chorus, making it the perfect way to end the album,before one last bit of narration come in to officially end it.

Overall, The Art of War is an absolute masterpiece, which simultaneously moves the band closer towards the more melodic and super catchy war anthems the band has become famous for, while also being their most cohesive work to date, thanks to an over arching concept that is executed perfectly. It has a perfect mix of speedy, instantly catchy tracks as well as some slower, more powerful tracks with some surprisingly emotional lyrics, and overall it's tough to argue against it being the band's greatest album to date. It's tough to say which I prefer between it and Heroes, but both are absolutely incredible, and this one probably is better from a technical standpoint.

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