SABATON – THE LAST STAND
Release date: 19 Aug 2016
Publisher: Nuclear Blast
Genre: heavy metal
This year the super-popular Swedish heavy metal band Sabaton released their eighth studio album The Last Stand which was produced by Peter Tägtgren and published by the record label Nuclear Blast. The new album conceptually resembles their fourth full-length release The Art Of War which also contains songs about many battles and wars, and together they form a perfect whole. However, themes on this album revolve around war heroes’ final moments and/or words in battle. Most of their fans weren’t very impressed with their recent releases, deeming them too monotonous and uniform, but the “new” Sabaton and The Last Stand bring new opportunities, so the whole album gives off a sense of anticipated freshness. The best example of this would be the song “The Lost Battalion” which almost sounds like a remake of “Hearts Of Iron” yet in the style of an up-beat anthem that opens up new horizons, new sounds, guitar rhythms, and is – in my humble opinion – the best choice for a lead single. On the other hand, the new album contains a good deal of pop elements; it seems as if the band members wanted to record a version of Sabaton in the style of the legendary ABBA, but still in a solid heavy metal style.
The Last Stand begins with the megahit “Sparta” as a fantastic album opener with excellent guitar sounds and great rhythm. This song was definitely destined to be an intro. If it were only a bonus, I think that it’d just go by the board without anyone noticing it. Keyboards impress from the start and prove once again that they are the leading force in Sabaton’s songs, while guitars complement their melodies together with excellent drums. The band once again hired extras for backing vocals, thus bringing this song to a whole new level.
The second song “Last Dying Breath” is a personal album favourite although it’s about Dragutin Gavrilović, a Serbian major who in 1915 shortly before the fall of Belgrade gave a heroic speech prior to counterattacking the Austrian army on horseback. One shouldn’t resent Sabaton for writing a song about a Serbian man but rather, as a true music lover, enjoy its overall quality.
“Blood Of Bannockburn” is about the Scottish army of 1314. Bagpipes are the only good feature of this rather short song which unfortunately goes unnoticed while listening to the entire album. While its lyrics are interesting, the song itself isn’t which is why I consider it the album’s weakest point.
Other songs worth mentioning are “Rorke’s Drift” which often changes tempo and complements the album with its energy and “Hill 3234” which sounds a bit like a washed out version of Metallica or Judas Priest but in a good way: it’s a fast track with interesting lyrics, excellent keyboards, and a simple riff. “The Last Battle” is the catchiest song on the album due to its simplicity, synchronised rhythms, and the overall simplicity of Hannes’ drumming.
The songs “Winged Hussars” and “Shiyorama” are unfortunately too reminiscent of well-known hits like “Uprising” and “The Art Of War”. The keyboards sound almost the same, yet the rest of the instruments don’t. “Shiyorama” is, at least for me, the better of the two and it will definitely delight all Sabaton fans at first listening despite the fact that it sounds like a familiar track. The album contains two bonus tracks, namely “Camouflage” and “All Guns Blazing”, a Judas Priest cover. “Camouflage” would perhaps fit better as a standard album number rather than a bonus track.
In the end, the conclusion that Sabaton still know how to record excellent songs still stands, although most of their fans will probably strongly reproach the band for this album alone. However, Sabaton did not disappoint at all because they are brimming with song themes, so we should expect a somewhat better concept album in the future.
- Last Dying Breath
- Blood Of Bannockburn
- Diary Of An Unknown Soldier
- The Lost Battalion
- Rorke’s Drift
- The Last Stand
- Hill 3234
- Winged Hussars
- The Last Battle
- Camouflage * bonus
- All Guns Blazing * bonus: Judas Priest cover
Review: Zlatko Vlašić – firstname.lastname@example.org
English translation: Zorana Stanko