The Last Stand


Swedish Metal institution SABATON have done all right for themselves these past few years. Headlining […]
By Tim Bolitho-Jones
September 11, 2016
Sabaton - The Last Stand album cover

Swedish Metal institution SABATON have done all right for themselves these past few years. Headlining Wacken Open Air, starting their own festival and becoming arguably the world's biggest Power Metal band is no small feat, and a far cry from that brief period of uncertainty in 2012 when four of the line-up departed. While 2014's "Heroes" album was decent though, it wasn't a patch on its magnificent predecessor "Carolus Rex" or their classic break through "The Art Of War." "The Last Stand" therefore is their chance to prove they are just as good in the studio as they are on the stage and it almost does it. Almost. Like every SABATON album until now, "The Last Stand" is grandiose, pompous and full of good songs. But on the flipside, it's also very predictable and far too short. It's a very easy, enjoyable listen and can be digested in one sitting with no trouble, but you'll also be able to guess where they're going with every single track. It's still tremendous fun but it comes with the slightly disconcerting sense that SABATON might be scared to push themselves beyond their established boundaries. And no, the brief inclusion of bagpipes doesn't count as innovation.

That being said, when it comes to blood-pumping macho thunder, SABATON are lords of all they survey. The album takes lyrical inspiration from several famous 'last stand' battles and makes dying in your own filth sound like the most noble thing a person could wish for. "Shiroyama" and "Winged Hussars" in particular are instant gems, the former a retelling of the deaths of the last Samurai and the latter a shot of air punching adrenaline about the siege of Vienna. It's so evocative that when the chorus kicks in you can almost see legions of elite cavalrymen thundering down a hillside into the panicked ranks of Ottoman soldiers and it sounds phenomenal. "Last Dying Breath" meanwhile tells the story of First World War hero Dragutin Gavrilovic and has the potential to do for Serbia what "40:1" did for Poland. "Blood of Bannockburn" revolves around Robert the Bruce and the fight for Scottish independence, but the biggest surprise is "The Lost Batallion." This one is another blood and glory epic, but it's surprisingly moving and manages to capture the heroism and terror of war in equal measure.

They're all impressive songs and there are hundreds of thousands of metalheads worldwide who will devour them with gusto when they go on tour, but it can't be denied that "The Last Stand" is still SABATON playing it safe. It's a step up from "Heroes," but it's not an unmissable milestone in their history. It'll fit nicely into your collection, add a few anthems to the live shows and they'll continue filling up European arenas for a while yet, just don't expect anything ground-breaking.


7 / 10









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"The Last Stand" Track-listing:

1. Sparta
2. Last Dying Breath
3. Blood of Bannockburn
4. Diary of an Unknown Soldier
5. The Lost Battalion
6. Rorke's Drift
7. The Last Stand
8. Hill 3234
9. Shiroyama
10. Winged Hussars
11. The Last Battle

Sabaton Lineup:

Joakim Broden - Vocals, Keyboards
Par Sundstrom - Bass, Backing Vocals
Chris Rorland - Guitar, Backing Vocals
Thobbe Englund - Guitar, Backing Vocals
Hannes Van Dahl - Drums, Backing Vocals

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