“War to end all wars, it’s a clash of honor, blood and steel.” Shit, wrong band. Anyway this is Sabaton’s second WWI album and if you heard the last one, you can skip this because it’s the same. Taking the next step in the sell out game Sabaton literally wrote the lead single Steel Commanders as an ad (“in cooperation with”) for some crappy ass pay to play game they’re peddling. The song is rather obviously trying to channel the ol’ Ghost Division feel - because tanks and in turn because memes - but all that does is show just far they’ve strayed from that once massive, forceful sound. That and other mediocre singles not featured herein paved the way for The War to End All Wars. Their tenth. Even at a fairly modest 45 minutes, The War to End All Wars just manages to be too long. Roundabouts when Christmas Truce rolls in (and it’s five boring minutes long) you kind of expect the spectacle to be over.
Sabaton scrape the bottom of the barrel, break through and present the moldy underside with singles The Unkillable Soldier (ok, the video was fun) and Soldier of Heaven (which overly romanticizes the subject matter). Both disgustingly poppy and overdone with near non-existent guitar work. Catchy, sure, but as power metal songs mediocre at best. It’s just incredibly by the numbers by this point, and literally every song would have a better counterpart in Sabaton’s previous discography. All right, so there are some highlights. Tommy Johansson pulls a sneaky on us and actually smashes some sweet riffing in Hellfighters - a song which is still dragged down by an overly grating vocal performance from Joakim Brodén. Stormtroopers makes that blast of firepower, unleashing the inherent power in Sabaton’s style and manages to feel fresh and invigorating. The speedy approach helps heaps as well, as much of the album is very mid tempo - close to stagnating at times; especially that sluggishly boring Dreadnought which is neither epic nor interesting or even the slightest bit inspired.
As a modern Sabaton album I guess it’s still passable, because they’re all so much the same; The Last Stand (2016) and The Great War (2019) both hit the exact same buttons as this one. Attempts at buttery anthems like the abysmal Christmas Truce just hammer it in; they’re not even trying to be the unique band they once were. I mean, they tried a few years back with standalone single Bismarck (2019) which rocked plenty, but then they did nothing more like that ever again and everyone cried. From the fact that some versions lack the opening track (Sarajevo) which is supposed to be - you know, the goddam opening track! - to the utter devolution of the band’s own sound, self plagiarism deluxe and the pseudo epic sound that gets more grating the more you listen to the album, this stuff really doesn’t cut it. Even if it wasn’t a mediocre album with precious few redeeming qualities, The War to End All Wars turns out to be all that’s wrong with modern metal. Sabaton sold out long ago, now they’re really letting their fans pay for it.
Standout tracks: Stormtroopers, The Valley of Death