Without hesitation, I will say that I'm a huge fan of Swedish power/heavy metal band Sabaton. Their 2006 release, 'Attero Dominatus,' captured me completely. Sabaton's vision of mixing metal with lyrics about war and warfare is hardly unique in the genre. However, they do it far better than anyone else simply because of their exceptional knowledge of the subject and its occurrences in past and modern history. With 'The Art Of War' they apply this theme by introducing Sun Tzu's theoretical and practical treatise on warfare and elaborating on it in their songs. Again, we have powerful and melodic metal throughout making for an intelligent and thoroughly enjoyable work.
Sabaton introduces us to Sun Tzu with a beginning quote and then opens up with the forceful 'Ghost Division,' referring to the German 7th Panzer Tank Division so called because nobody knew where they were attacking from, not even the German High Command. What follows from here are more quotes from 'The Art Of War,' introducing subsequent songs. Therefore, it is just as important to listen to the lyrics as the music. Moving on to some more songs, the title track is epic in power and scope. On '1' you have more traditional power metal that produces a great guitar solo. Other noteworthy songs include the powerfully melodic 'Unbreakable' which holds again, some great fret work. 'Cliffs Of Gallipoli,' about the WWI Battle of Gallipoli, combines the superb song composition, musicianship, and thoughtful storytelling for which Sabaton has become known. Be careful to listen for the vibrant piano work throughout. 'Talvisota' (Finnish: Winter War) tells in grand style that struggle of Finland (outnumbered nearly 4 to 1) against the invading Soviet Union. It's a good number, though pretty basic power metal. Possibly the most significant and moving song is 'The Price Of A Mile' where Sabaton explores the difficulty and horror of warfare when advancing upon the enemy. The vocals are priceless and the guitar work, beautiful.
'The Art Of War' is a terrific Sabaton album: their best to date. The music is consistently satisfying and the lyrical content, intelligent and often thought provoking. ('Talvisota' made we want to explore the history.) Even though war and warfare are constant themes in the metal genre, I'm reminded of a wise observation by Sun Tzu: 'Therefore one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the most skillful. Seizing the enemy without fighting is the most skillful.' Pray for peace, but prepare for conflict. Sabaton's 'The Art Of War' is a must listen and a definite buy. Highly recommended!
- Craig Hartranft
Sabaton returns with another tour de force metal album exploring war and warfare. This time they invoke Sun Tzu's 'The Art Of War' for a musical treatise. Again, epic melodic power/heavy metal is used to tell great tales of epic battles and the challenges of war.
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