The War to End All Wars

The War to End All Wars

Swedish power-metal champions Sabaton are known for writing many songs—and concept albums—about war. Their 10th full-length, The War to End All Wars, is a sequel to their 2019 album, The Great War, which focused on World War I. “We felt there were several stories we were leaving behind on the last album, like the Christmas Truce and The Harlem Hellfighters,” vocalist and keyboardist Joakim Brodén tells Apple Music. “We wanted to cover them, but we didn’t have the right music at that time. When we started touring the album, so many people got in touch, telling us about even more World War I stories we did not know about. Then, of course, the pandemic hit in the middle of the tour, when we’d only covered half the world. So, we thought, ‘Hmm…maybe we should do another one.” Below, he tells the often incredible stories behind each song. “Stormtroopers” “Many people have written us, ‘You should make a song about Star Wars,’ but in this case we are talking about German shock troops, or stormtroopers, and these smaller elite groups of soldiers that developed a faster form of warfare. The Austro-Hungarian Empire had the Jägers, and the Italians were experimenting with the Arditi soldiers, but the stormtroopers are the classic example. This is the first proper song on the album, with a faster double kick drum start to get things going.” “Dreadnought” “This is one of my favorites on the album, both musically and the topic itself. The song sounds like it could have been done by Sabaton in 2005 or 2008 or now, but it’s not like a copy of anything else we’ve done, so it’s weird how it feels very Sabaton but very timeless at the same time. We usually write about the human side of warfare, but sometimes a piece of technology is such a game-changer, so we did a song about the Dreadnought battleship and the Battle of Jutland. The name of the ship says it all: fear nothing.” “The Unkillable Soldier” “Adrian Carton de Wiart was Belgian-born and fighting for the British in World War I but had also fought earlier in the Boer War and further back. He was almost like a comic book character, this over-the-top super-soldier who just wouldn’t die no matter what the enemy threw at him. He’s one of the craziest people I’ve ever read about, so we decided to do something different for him. It’s a playful song, somehow.” “Soldier of Heaven” “On The Great War, we felt we didn’t represent the Southern Fronts so well. We were sort of getting lost in the Red Baron and all the low-hanging fruit. So, we decided to dive into the events in the Alps on White Friday and how soldiers are still, to this day, frozen up there, not yet dug out because we don’t know where they are. I think, late last year, archaeologists found another site up there. So, this song is a tribute to the fallen that never came home.” “Hellfighters” “The 369th regiment were The Harlem Hellfighters, the African American and Puerto Rican unit. Back in those days, the Americans wouldn’t really want to fight with them, so they were sort of handed off to the French, who called them the Men of Bronze. They were the unit that served the longest at the frontline. Obviously, people were in World War I for a long time, but you’d rotate in and out of the front every week or two. But these guys were there for six months—that’s just brutal. And you want a heavy metal song title? It doesn’t get much better.” “Race to the Sea” “King Albert of Belgium refused to surrender, even when he only had about five percent of Belgium left to command. So, he decided to flood the area to prevent it from falling into German hands. Then, he fought shoulder to shoulder with his men, and even had his 12-year-old son at the front, delivering messages. For a sovereign to be actively involved in fighting at this time was unheard of.” “Lady of the Dark” “Milunka Savić is probably the most-decorated female soldier of all time. She took her brother’s place going into the war and was known as a badass with grenades. She dressed like a man in the beginning, but eventually she dropped this pretense after being wounded.” “The Valley of Death” “This is the Bulgarians and British fighting it out again and again at the Battle of Doiran. The British finally got through on their third or fourth attempt, and when they got there, the Bulgarians were gone. After the war, the British considered the Bulgarian commander, Vladimir Vazov, a true gentleman opponent. They actually invited him to do a guest lecture at a military college, and he went over to the UK several times after the war.” “Christmas Truce” “On Christmas Eve 1914, on several places along the Western Front, soldiers on both sides waved the white flag and played football and drank beer together. This was actually several unconnected events where they decided, ‘Let’s not kill each other today.’ They even sang Christmas carols and showed each other pictures of their loved ones. And then, they had to go back to killing each other only a few hours later. It makes it so much harder when you realize you have a lot more in common with your enemy than you supposed.” “Versailles” “This one sort of loops back on ‘Sarajevo.’ They’re brother and sister in a way, because this isn’t an outro and it’s not a song. It’s something in between. The treaty at Versailles ended World War I, which was seen as the war to end all wars. But this poses the question, ‘Can a war really end all war?’”

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