Sabaton celebrate 20 years with a tonally inconsistent but informative power-metal take on WWI | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

Sabaton celebrate 20 years with a tonally inconsistent but informative power-metal take on WWI 

Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe

click to enlarge Sabaton

Sabaton

Tallee Savage

Sabaton are celebrating their 20th year of existence in style. The Swedish power-metal band kicked off 2019 with the launch of their own YouTube channel, which focuses on the history that fuels their songwriting, and in July they released their ninth album, the World War I-inspired The Great War. Sabaton are no stranger to exploring such landmark events through their music; previous records have focused on World War II (2010’s Coat of Arms), the rise and fall of the Swedish empire (2012’s Carolus Rex), and noteworthy final stands throughout military history (2016’s The Last Stand). However, translating the horrors of WWI (which in recent decades hasn’t often received the same type of propagandist spins as WWII) into the triumphant riffs and soaring solos that typically define power metal is a tricky task, and Sabaton don’t always quite nail it. “The Attack of the Dead Men” recounts the victorious but doomed charge of Russian troops gassed by Germans in 1915 while defending Osowiec Fortress, but the band’s sanitized version of the story skimps on the gory details (the cocktail of gas used by the Germans essentially liquefied the flesh of the Russian troops), focusing on heroism rather than on desperation, futility, and tragedy. Still, Sabaton know their way around a riff and a rousing chorus: “A Ghost in the Trenches,” their ode to famed Canadian sniper and First Nations activist Francis Pegahmagabow, gallops with joyously acrobatic guitar work and drops in a surprise key change to great effect. The band clearly love military history, and to their credit, they often highlight obscure aspects of the campaigns they cover. If you can look past the cognitive dissonance of guitar solos and “Aces High”-style riffage in a song about the Battle of Verdun, there’s a lot to love on The Great War.   v

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Give $35/month →  
  Give $10/month →  
  Give  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  → 

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Agenda Teaser

Galleries & Museums
August 20
Performing Arts
September 24

Popular Stories