Sabaton - The Art of War

Sun Tzu Says
Ghost Division
The Art of War
The Nature of Warfare
Cliffs of Gallipoli
Union (Slopes of St. Benedict)
The Price of a Mile
A Secret

Joakim brodén (V)
Oskar Montelius (G)
Daniel Mullback (D)
Pär Sundström (B)
Daniel Mÿhr (Kb)
Rickard Sundén (G)

Metalizer (2007)
Attero Dominatus (2006)
Primo Victoria (2005)
Fist For Fight (2001)

black lodge

Sun Tzu Says: Stop making fun of my name, for fuck sake!

Well, that’s my guess at least. That poor Chinese war artist would probably have seen this as rape on his war book “The Art of War” (which also is the title of this album) if he’d heard it. In my opinion, this is a markery of the book, not a celebration. First of it’s this female voice that keeps talking between every song, even though she obviously should have stoped after Sun Tzu Says.

I agree to that this is an ambitious project, the band have spent a long time researching the story of the book to make a concept album from it in the highest fashion. But instead it’s a joke – both lyrical and musically. The concept isn’t kept at all – what the hell does “panzerbattalions” have to do with an over tousand year old book about the art of war? And personally, I feel it would have been more righteous to the book (and concept) if they at least would have tried to sound more orientalise, a little Asian (maybe even Chinese) when they played instead of just doing their slaped up keyboards and belly flopped power metal.

With all that said, we now can go deeper into what kind of an album this is…

The song following the intro of the album, called Ghost Division, is actually really good! Actually because I’ve never liked Sabaton – to me they’ve always laked of identity and have sounded way to steril, dull and completely uninteresting. On this song the band do their spaced out keyboards, heavy guitars with glory and they have a nice pace on it. A really good song that certainly promises much for the rest of the album. And with that I mean REALLY much! But it’s promises that never even is close to be fulfilled.

I shan’t say I’m sleeping by it, but definitely yawning (more that trice) and I don’t think the album glows after Ghost Division, and definitely not fires up. It constantly falling deeper in quality the longer it goes since the band recycle their own concept all over but in different forms, but more importantly the tempo is lowered and the band doesn’t seem to have any good ideas that can weighting up this with (perhaps an exception in song 11, The Price of a Mile).

The concrete plan in the music seems to be extravagant keyboards and very quick pace. It also is a high mixing on the base drums, but strangely a low mixed base. The guitars have an okay dist but makes no outburst that makes you “wow” or even hum to it. What is really good is that they’ve mixed down the vocals, since Mr Brodén donät have the voice resources to carry the songs alone. The reaction to this is that it’s very much music and the vocals seem to disappear a bit in a pretty messy full load.

About Sabaton it probably goes both ways in the opinions, but mine is that it’s to simple and not even nearly sensational. I think there is plenty of better bands in their genre and even though Ghost Division is a good song (really good, even) that will be great live, it feels more as a corn found by a blind hen than a band showing what they really are capable of. It’s good mixed and the sound is great, but I donät have fun listening to it, it’s way to monotonous all the way and most of all the songs are to un-engaging to make me even move one eyebrow.

This is okay power metal, for the fans of the genre, but I can’t see that there is any way that they attract fans from other genres with it (except perhaps the mentioned song). The average Backstreet Boys fan will surely have a hard time accepting this, and probably so even with fans of other metal genres. But they do what they do very okay and this album will most probably appeal the already faned Sabatons and power metal enthusiasts in common.

If you spend money on this you’ll get lots of talking and plenty of keyboards, some okay parts and pieces but mostly average power metal without oddities. Personally I think the album descends to deep the longer it goes and I think that I in the future will do just fine with only the first 4.15 of the album. The grade, however, stays on approved – not too bad.


Label - Black Lodge
Three similar bands - Axenstar/Crystal Eyes/Cryonic Temple
Reviewer: Caj Källmalm