Sabaton - The Last Stand

Sabaton - The Last Stand

(CD/LP, Nuclear Blast, 2016)

I believe that if you have been a SABATON follower for at least three LPs, then it’s pretty certain that you’ll keep checking this band’s doings, no matter what. You see, the Swedes have a consistency in their song/lyrics writing despite the recent lineup changes. I am talking about the war history-themed lyrics and the anthem-type Power Metal that turns into Aerobic Metal (this is a term I invented - patent pending...) when played live. By the way, SABATON’s music sounds ten times better live because there you have also the visual aspect of a band sweating its arse off, doing its best to entertain you. Before digging into the band’s newest LP “The Last Stand”, allow me to put some words of warning, even though I have done this in the past; talking about war history does not make you a warmonger or a nationalist, so if you feel like this, then please direct your reading business towards another webzine.

As in previous LPs, SABATON follow a concept in the lyrics and this time is all about historical events dealing with last-stand battles, praising the heroic stance of the defenders. Yeah, in the middle of the ugliness and brutality of a war, there are some human beings who present high morals and self-sacrifice for their beliefs, regardless of what side they are standing on, or the colors of their country’s flag. One of the most important battles in the world history is the one that took place in Thermopylae where the Persian Empire received a huge blow in its chin by the Greeks. Since this was an heroic last stand, it is not a surprise that it’s the opening song in the new SABATON LP. Of course, the keyboards lead the way in a pompous way (you see Peter Tägtgren’s production hands are behind this), paving the way for the groovy rhythm section and the fists-in-the air chorus. The “ooo/ahhhh” war-grunts were kind of a turn-off for me since they feel like coming from the “300” movie (along with the way Sparta is being sung). Anyway, this is a rather typical SABATON song, although there is no strong melody to lift your mood up. Without crossing the well-defined song-writing boundaries, the Swedes have tried to push a little bit the SABATON envelope by bringing more guitar leads and by enhancing the underlining traditional Heavy Metal foundations. “Last Dying Breath” is fine example of this, even though I’d prefer the lead guitars to be one step ahead of the keyboards to further highlight their contribution. “Diary Of An Unknown Soldier” is a narration done by ICED EARTH’s mastermind Jon Schaffer who has the perfect voice for setting the atmosphere for the mid-tempo “The Lost Battalion”. The most interesting part of this song is that instead of drums the band used sounds of guns firing and especially the machine-gun came out great. If the atmosphere was darker and less happy, then this song would have been one of my favorites. On the other hand, the album gets better after this one, gaining more heaviness as the riffs are being pushed in the front. Yeah, “Rorke's Drift” has a killer driving riff and the same goes for the “Painkiller”-inspired “Hill 3234” where Joakim Brodén is using his more serious and deeper singing.

The album’s title track is perfect for jumping up and down during live shows, having that SABATON-drive that is impossible to resist when everyone around you is having tons of fun while the groovy “Winged Hussars” and especially “The Last Battle” dives deeper into the band’s keyboard-driven Hard Rock (I could have said AOR; oh wait, I just did...) with a nice main melody which I have to admit does not fit the war-themed lyrics but makes a great companion to the really nice solo.

In all honesty, I cannot categorize “The Last Stand” as one of SABATON’s finest studio moments because it kind of feels weaker when compared to their previous LPs. At the same time, it does have everything you love in this band, so you won’t be disappointed, but I wouldn’t propose this as the starting point for someone who hasn’t listened to SABATON in the past. Will I check SABATON on their upcoming tour? Of course I will, because it is guaranteed Metal fun.

7/10 


Links:

www.Sabaton.Net
www.MySpace.Com/Sabaton
www.FaceBook.Com/Sabaton
www.Twitter.Com/Sabaton


Tracklist:

01. Sparta
02. Last Dying Breath
03. Blood Of Bannockburn
04. Diary Of An Unknown Soldier
05. The Lost Battalion
06. Rorke's Drift
07. The Last Stand
08. Hill 3234
09. Shiroyama
10. Winged Hussars
11. The Last Battle


Lineup:

Pär Sundström - Bass
Joakim Brodén - Vocals
Thobbe Englund - Guitar
Chris Rörland - Guitar
Hannes Van Dahl - Drums