Sabaton – The Last Stand

Sabaton
The Last Stand
Released 19th August 2016
Power Metal
Released via Nuclear Blast

Sabaton doesn’t need much of an introduction. Since the turn of the millennium, the Swedish group have been entertaining us with their historically themed, highly catchy power metal and energetic live shows. Their concerts are always great to watch; however the same cannot be said about their albums. Whilst they haven’t produced any complete garbage thus far, some of the albums are less memorable than others. As for which is their best effort, that varies depending on who you ask… Personally I’m a huge fan of the concept album ‘Carolus Rex’, which I believe is an absolute masterpiece and their best work to date. The follow-up ‘Heroes’ had its moments but it never matched the same level of excellence. This brings us to their latest effort ‘The Last Stand’, a concept album which tells stories of eleven defensive “last stand” battles.

Each song focuses on a different battle from various historical events ranging from ancient Greece, medieval Scotland, the two World Wars to Japan at the time of the samurais. So that’s the themes explained, now let’s talk about the actual music… The bombastic and “epic”-sounding Sparta has all the features you would have hoped to hear from an opening track. The ultra-catchy keyboard tunes, epic chanting and cries of “Sparta!” and “Hellas!” in the chorus is enough to make you want put on some armour and run down the nearest hill to attack. Oh wait, hold your horses! Before you start your charge you might want to stick around and listen to what else is on here…

Is that bagpipes I hear? Oh yes!! Bagpipes, a hammond organ, heavy metal and cries of “rally all the clans” along with references to The Scottish Revolution. These are all the things that make Blood of Bannockburn one of the best tracks on the album. Another song that caught my attention was Shiroyama mostly due to the chorus and references to the “the last stand of the Samurai”. I don’t know much about the Japanese history, but I’ve always found the samurai culture intriguing and after hearing this song actually decided to do some research about this battle. Arigatō Sabaton!

So those were my choice cuts, now about the rest of the album… Well, sadly there’s a few tracks on here that sound oddly familiar. Take Winged Hussars for instance, the entire structure, everything from the sing-along-narrative, the keyboards, the guitar riffs to the chorus, is very similar to another song with reference to Polish history – Uprising from the ‘Coat of Arms’ album. Then there’s The Lost Battalion which sounds like an leftover from the ‘Heroes’ album.

Overall it’s a decent effort but there’s quite a bit of recycled ideas here. The stories are all unique but some of the music is a case of Sabaton playing it safe and creating something that’s very similar to what they have done before. It’s as if someone took the best tracks from ‘The Art of War’, ‘Coat of Arms’ and ‘Heroes’, stuck them all in a blender and poured the results into new frames. I’ve been there, done that, I won’t be buying the t-shirt but I’ll probably get the album for Sparta, Blood of Bannockburn and Shiroyama.

3.5/5

Iza Raittila

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