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Sabaton Wiki

"The Art Of War" is Sabaton's fourth studio album. It was released on 30th May 2008.


  • This is the band's first concept album.
  • It was Joakim's idea to create lyrics around Sun Tzu's "The Art of War" book.
  • The artwork for the album was created by Jobert Mello of Sledgehammer Graphix.
  • The Sun Tzu's quotes from the book read by a female voice are taken from LibriVox's audiobook version of the book, which follows the Lionel Giles translation. Joakim admitted they used them, because they were for free.[1]
  • It was the band's breakthrough album in Europe. It received many positive reviews in the press when it was released.
  • The band was heavily criticized in Sweden for their lyrics at the time when the album was released.
  • The album was well received by fans and critics, but the main complaint was the lack of a "silly song" (like Metal Machine and Metal Crüe), and the female voice overs between the songs. Reviewers didn't like them, because the press copies of the album had voice overs of their own in the songs and along with the album voice overs, it made the album hard to listen to.[1]
  • On the album's 13th anniversary in 2021, the band uploaded the full album to their YouTube channel. (...) today you will be able to experience the album just as it was meant to be heard. From start to end. These days most people listen to a few songs only, and miss a lot of good ones. We now challenge you to break the norm, and take the time to enjoy this album. And perhaps you will learn something new![2]


Joakim: "(...) the studio is actually already booked, in October (2007) is it? It will be in Studio Abyss but this time with Peter Tägtgren."

Mullback: "We think he can take us one step further with our sound so we don't record the same disc again.[3]

Pär: "Certainly it isn't as much power metal sounding as the previous ones, it is a little different, we changed the concept a little bit because it is inspired by Sun Tzu's "The Art Of War". It came out interesting, but we didn't try to stick to specific sound or lyrical frames."[4]

Pär: "(...) we recorded all songs in Abyss (studios - red. note). This time, however, with the help of both brothers Tägtgren. Tommy and Peter were extremely helpful. During the session it turned out that Peter is an extremely nice and working in his own funny way. We are grateful for the tips shown and of course for the final result."[5]

Pär: "Some of the memories I have from the song writing period of this album, are related with the repeated rehearsals of the song Unbreakable. I remember that we loved the heavy riffing so much that we kept playing just that part of the song for hours.

But one of the strongest song writing parts of this album is for sure Cliffs Of Gallipoli. Joakim worked on this song for years. For the solo part only, lots of hours were spent working on every note. For this song we had the idea of writing about the battle of Gallipoli. We met a Turkish guy in Netherlands on one of our shows and we loved the story he told us about Gallipoli and later after reading a lot both Joakim and me had the inspiration to write one of the best lyrics we ever did until then.

But the song writing stories don’t stop there. There are so many great songs that really stood out on this one. I remember also that The Price Of A Mile was written very late. One night in the studio Joakim showed the main riff with the melodies that he was thinking. I loved it the second I heard it and basically forced him to write the rest of the song overnight and include it on the album.

"Happy it worked out since it's probably my favourite song on that album to play live."[6]

Pär: "We recorded this album with Tommy Tägtgren who also did Primo Victoria and Attero Dominatus but the main difference there was that Peter Tägtgren noticed Sabaton and wanted to get involved in the making of this album. So, he took over the mixing which was a great thing for us to be able to work with the legendary Peter for something more than just taking some tips from him as previously was the case.

I think most of the album recordings at this time went quite smooth, we had some problems with the change in tempos on songs like Cliffs Of Gallipoli, since at this time we did not use computers for recording. Still the recording was done on tapes at this time and when you needed to do retakes or make changes in tempos it was creating problems which thankfully no one who works only with computers will ever face again."[7]

Joakim: "(...) We had Peter doing the mixing and coming in during the production, checking out everything was according to plan. He basically doubled the amount of channels we had on drums. Normally we’ve only been doing thirteen channels on drums, now we’re up to twenty six! He was close miking every single cymbal, and two mics on every tom and everything."[8]

Lyrical themes

This album is based on the writings of General Sun Tsu, the celebrated military tactician from ancient China. Just as Sun Tsu’s Art of War book has 13 chapters, each dealing with a different aspect of warfare, the album has 13 tracks – each telling of a different historical battle. Some of Sabaton’s most popular anthems, such as Ghost Division and 40:1, are found on this album.[9]

Pär: "The idea of the book The Art of War was totally Joakim´s idea. To find the battles which we could connect to chapters in the book with actual events was difficult but we made it and the result is a very deep concept album. Glad it came out in 2008 since people today do not focus so much on concepts behind the albums."[10]

Joakim: "The decision to make the album based on the old dissertation about war arts "The Art Of War" was of course mutual, Sabaton has a democratic structure."[11]

Joakim: "We wanted to show how everything changed for at least half a thousand years before our lyrics were created. A breakthrough was, for example, the invention of electricity that changed the the world. However, mankind's war mania has not changed. The world is developing, but the essence of war remains the same."[12]

Joakim: "We adopted the perspective of a simple soldier who was there when it all happened. We tried to show great historical battles like they were private, even intimate stories."[13]

Track listing

  1. Sun Tzu Says – 00:23
  2. Ghost Division – 03:51
  3. The Art of War – 05:08
  4. 40:1 – 04:10
  5. Unbreakable – 05:58
  6. The Nature of Warfare – 01:18
  7. Cliffs of Gallipoli – 05:51
  8. Talvisota – 03:32
  9. Panzerkampf – 05:15
  10. Union (Slopes of St. Benedict) – 04:05
  11. The Price of a Mile – 05:55
  12. Firestorm – 03:25
  13. A Secret – 00:37

Re-Armed edition bonus tracks:

  1. Swedish Pagans – 04:13
  2. Glorious Land – 3:19
  3. The Art of War (Pre-Production Demo) – 4:48
  4. Swedish National Anthem (Live at Sweden Rock Festival) – 2:34


  • Pär Sundström - Bass, backing vocals
  • Joakim Brodén - Lead vocals, keyboards
  • Rikard Sundén - Guitars, backing vocals
  • Oskar Montelius - Guitars, backing vocals
  • Daniel Mullback - Drums, backing vocals
  • Daniel Mÿhr - Keyboards, backing vocals

Full album experience


SABATON - The Art Of War (Full Album Experience)