“Steel Commanders” by Sabaton (ft. Tina Guo)

As we have noted in the past, Sabaton is a band who often makes songs centered on certain events in the history of war, especially as it pertains to Europe, with the band being from Sweden.

But even though “Steel Commanders is similarly natured, in this case they are not speaking to a specific event. Rather they are giving a shoutout to tanks in general and how they have influenced the act of warfare. And along the way, as usual, Sabaton makes specific historical references.

For instance in the beginning of the first verse, it is revealed that these mechanisms first made their appearance “over [a] hundred years ago”. And in fact tanks, as we understand them in the modern world, were first utilized during World War I. 

And of course with their heavy wheels and all, they’re able to ‘roll over trench and wire’, i.e. proceed confidently into the battlefield like no other land vehicle before them. 

Finally, before closing out the verse the vocalist gives a shoutout to a couple of early-20th century military leaders. They are Bernard Montgomery (1887-1976) of the UK and General George S. Patton (1885-1945) of the US, both of whom would rely notably on tanks during their career.

Then in the pre-chorus, the singer mentions one “Flers-Courcelette”. That is actually a location in France, more specifically two, Flers and Courcelette, where tanks were first utilized in warfare, beginning on 15 September 1916. 

Meanwhile, “El Alamein” is a location in Egypt that witnessed its own fair share of tank violence later during World War II, which is why it is also mentioned in the pre-chorus. So by the time we get to the chorus, even though the word tank is never mentioned in the song, we can take it that these are the “steel commanders” which Sabaton is referring to. And basically, what the band is celebrating is the might of these machines.

And so it is with the verse, where we are treated to additional war/tank-related references like Operation “Overlord”, i.e. the famous Battle of Normandy, as it is called, that took place in France in 1944 and in which thousands of tanks were utilized. 

And conclusively, first we’ll say that whereas there may be more tanks now than ever, they aren’t as heavily relied on as during the World Wars. So it’s as if Sabaton is commemorating the heyday of this weaponry. And again, they aren’t celebrating it as a killing machine but rather noting how tanks have significantly influenced the military landscape and by extension history itself.

Lyrics to Sabaton's "Steel Commanders"
Sabaton's Joakim Brodén talks about "Steel Commanders"

Interesting Facts

Sabaton is one of the really unique popular bands in the music industry. For instance, they often release songs in conjunction with videogames. And in this case, said software would be an online game called World of Tanks, published by a European company called Wargaming, that originally came out in 2010. 

And at the time of the release of the track on 25 August 2021, Sabaton is also slated to be involved in a World of Tanks in-game event.

Wargaming participated in the creation of the music video to Steel Commanders. And the clip as well as the song feature an internationally known Chinese-American cellist by the name of Tina Guo.

To note, Sabaton has worked with Wargaming in the past, on a single that came out in 2019 entitled Bismarck. However, that time around the song was associated with another of their games, World of Warships (2015).

Steel Commanders was written by Sabaton leader Joakim Brodén alongside his bandmate, bassist Pär Sundström.

Steel Commanders

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