Sabaton – The Last Stand

Sabaton - The Last StandSwedish power metal warmongers Sabaton are back with their eighth album, The Last Stand. That means more stories about historic battles wrapped in layers of cheesy goodness. Here’s what we thought.

Sabaton must be one of the hardest working metal bands in the world right now. If they’re not touring – and they’re on the road a lot! – they hole themselves up in the studio and crank out new albums every two years, somehow maintaining the same quality (or lack thereof, depending on whom you ask). When the band releases a new album, The Last Stand being the eighth, you know full well what you’re going to get: bite-sized power metal songs with a lot of bombast, gruff vocals and a history lesson on warfare and legendary battles. Sabaton is the McDonald’s of the power metal scene in that things never get too complicated and yes, there are bands out there who offer a much better or more interesting experience, but sometimes you just prefer a simple, quick burger over a three-star, four-course meal. The Last Stand, in that regard, does not disappoint.

If The Last Stand has one problem, it would be it’s opening twin attack. Sparta isn’t the best Sabaton song by miles, and it’s a percussion-driven, mid-tempo slog full of gruff, manly “ooh-aah”’s. It doesn’t work as an opening track, and it isn’t helped by the equally mediocre Last Dying Breath being the subsequent song, with it’s unremarkable chorus and opressively eighties-sounding keyboards. Luckily, things pick up with Blood of Bannockburn, and the band manages to keep up that quality until the end of the album.

Of course, you’ve seen and heard all this stuff before in one form or another, as Sabaton albums tend to sound a little too same-y at times. Winged Hussars, a fine song in itself, has a main riff and a structure so similar to Hearts of Iron (from 2014’s Heroes) that I found myself inadvertently singing along to the wrong lyrics when I first heard it. It’s not the only moment on The Last Stand that makes you take notice and wonder where you’ve heard certain bits and pieces before, and moments like this are becoming dangerously prevalent for the amiable Swedes.

Niggles aside, though, The Last Stand features a few very good tracks indeed. Rorke’s Drift is an up-tempo, fun track with a great bridge and chorus (I’d love to hear the crowd sing Zulu’s Attack! / Fight Back to Back! live), it’s title track is one of more anthemic songs these guys have put out, and Shiroyama should be a lot of fun on the stage as well. Rapid-fire power metal grenades are what these guys to best, and when they press the pedal to the metal here, The Last Stand is at it’s most captivating (do check out the Stan Ridgway cover Camouflage, though, it’s crazy fun).

With The Last Stand, Sabaton cranks out yet another fine album, hewn from the same vein as the other seven. By now, the band is clearly an extremely well-oiled machine, an unstoppable panzer tank, so to speak. The biggest complaint I have here is the ever growing feeling of “been there, done that.” I genuinely like and admire these guys for how they have built momentum and are able to keep thundering on towards stages of an ever increasing size. If we’re going to keep getting the same basic ten songs every two years, however, things might fly off the rails before long. As much as I enjoy The Last Stand (and Heroes before it), things are getting a little stale this side of Carolus Rex. Let’s hope Sabaton can change things up enough next time to keep things fresh.

Label: Nuclear Blast
Release: Out now

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

Line-up:

  • Joakim Brodén – vocals
  • Chris Rörland – guitar
  • Tommy Johansson – guitar
  • Pär Sundström – bass
  • Hannes van Dahl – drums

Further surfing:

Review by Ralph Plug

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s