The Great War

This week the gate will explore a record that reflects on WWI, also known as The Great War.

Songs by Iron Maiden and Motorhead about WWI are explored as well.

A ‘great’ war not because it was a positive event, but a reference to the area it encompassed. The entire European continent was engulfed by the destruction.

The Sam Mendes film, “1917”, nominated for 10 Academy Awards, now playing in theaters is a good moment to look at metal’s contribution to remembering this war.

The Swedish band, Sabaton, whose name is derived from a knight’s foot armor, has an album called ‘The Great War’ (History Version).

Each of the 11 tracks includes a spoken word lesson regarding the conflict. Within a 42 minute span the horrors of gas attacks and scorched earth are laid bare.

Released July 19, 2019 on Nuclear Blast records.
The Great War is the band’s ninth studio album.

#11 U.K.
#42 U.S.

‘The Future of Warfare’ opens with the action in September of 1915. Heralding the arrival of new forms of warfare that will pound the soldiers through 1918.

‘Seven Pillars of Wisdom’ moves tha action to Arabia and T.E. Lawrence. The guitars roar along with a galloping percussion to pay tribute to the exploits of Lawrence of Arabia. A light in the dark; an eternal flame.

’82nd All The Way’ celebrates the fearless soldiers who did their duty despite the odds of no return. Reference is made to the American effort. Sergeant York is singled out here.

One of the most melodic and harmonic of metal tunes. The guitar solos are inspired.

The cruelty of poison gas attacks are brutal. ‘The Attack of the Dead Men’ tells the tale of a hundred victims of gas who nevertheless rise to strike their foe.

The chorus is mono and somber with slight keyboard accents. The guitar attack is smooth. A beauty of a track that gives hope in a no man’s land.

‘Devil Dogs’ are the squads going to where no soldier would dare go. They were the Marines of this war. Scorching guitars attack against a heavy chorus.

‘The Red Baron’ about the flying aces. Air force was a new invention of this war. The speed matches the feel of flight. Featuring the best keyboards on the record too.

‘Great War’ takes place during the rain soaked battle of Paschendale. Ultimately asking what is so great about war?

‘A Ghost In The Trenches’ describes bloody raids to gain a few inches of ground. Soldiers are ghosts to be in the ditches.

‘Fields of Verdun’ opens with sound effects of a battle in a place no one shall pass.

‘The End of the War to End All Wars’ 4 years and empire’s end could not end war. The machines of battle were now at rest.

A choral blast with guitars, drums, and driving vocals that take us to the end.

‘In Flanders Fields’ concludes the record. Choral music as one would expect in a song of remembrance. Quite beautiful.

Paschendale ” from Iron Maiden’s thirteenth album in September 2003, commemorates the WWI battle.

Guitarist Adrian Smith wrote this well detailed account of battle and it’s awful consequences.

A fallen soldier recounts his experiences while his life fades. The bloody trenches. The hard rain. All the bodies no older than eighteen. Over the wall to their deaths.

The German propaganda machine the likes of which the world had never seen. At least until that point of time.

Account of those nervous minutes before the whistle blows to signal their end propels this track. A progressive metal song with changes in tempo.

1916 Motorhead’s ninth album released on February 26,1991.
On WTG records. Epic/Sony.

The final song on this record was the band’s most somber. A departure from their usual speed and ferocity.

‘1916’ was a stirring tribute to the lives lost during the great war. Written by the late Lemmy Kilmister.

Structured in verse, a poem. Ultimately a recounting of the horror faced and anonymity conferred on the lives of soldiers.

We should know their names. At least we never forget their courage. And never repeat this passage.

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