Sabaton– The Last Stand
Out 19th August, 2016
Sabaton Line Up —
Joakim Brodén (Vocals)
Chris Rörland (Guitars)
Thobbe Englund (Guitars)
Pär Sundström (Bass)
Hannes Van Dahl (Drums)
Sabaton Online —
The glorification of glory through battle that Sabaton have made a career of so rumbustiously peddling for the last seventeen years shows no sign of slowing on The Last Stand. It’s a dizzyingly invigorating slog of power metal and blood-soaked history merged in to one. Front man Joakim Brodén’s succinct and revelatory lyrics maintain their focus on bravery and triumph in conflict; from ancient myth to modern warfare, there’s no denying he is a well-researched and impassioned songwriter.
Despite a swathe of line-up changes in the last five years, the Swedish four piece have successfully maintained their rollicking musical and thematic aesthetics. Album opener ‘Sparta’ draws from the world’s most famous ancient Greek myth as much as it does Frank Miller’s stylized graphic novel/ manliest-movie-ever, even directly appropriating quotes and story arcs from the latter. It’s an absolutely ball-tearing opener that utterly captivates from the get go.
Brodén’s keyboards serve a defiantly retro intro to ‘Last Dying Breath’, and maintain focus throughout. The whole song comes off like a Rammstein-Dragonforce collaboration, with Chris Rörland’s stomping guitar track marching side by side with Pär Sundström’s bass throughout, before erupting in to a banging solo at the track’s lofty hilt.
Bagpipes blare, serving to immediately immerse listener’s in to ‘Battle of Bannockburn’ and its powerful story of significant Scottish history. This pertinacious belter uplifts while detailing Scotland’s first victory in a war for independence from the English. It’s a testament to the Swede’s to so regularly nail other country’s cultural idiosyncrasies through their music. They play an even political hand with every battle they explore (except when it’s Nazis. They don’t like Nazis). This approach has been paramount in creating a strong reverie and brotherhood amongst fans across the globe. In short, …Bannockburn is a bloody great song.
A misplaced soliloquy from the diary of an entrenched World War One soldier follows, and slows the albums pace briefly. It’s a fine enough intro to the album’s first single, but is a bit grim and cheesy; even by Sabaton’s standards. ‘The Lost Battalion’ is a welcomed pursuivant, and a fine choice for The Last Stand’s first single. The band is at their most customarily reverent, replete with choral backing during choruses and Hannes van Dahl’s power percussion remaining indomitable throughout.
Tempos are doubled for ‘Rorke’s Drift’, and barely slow through the eponymous The Last Stand, and the particularly glorious ‘Hill 3234’. In three short songs, Sabaton bounce from 19th century South Africa, through the ancient ‘Holy See’, and finally to a decisive soviet paratrooper victory on the Afghan-Pakistan border, circa 1988. All of the songs are affecting and spectacular, delivering grandiose metal in spades. The history lessons are a welcomed bonus, and had this reviewer gladly Googling the past to further immerse oneself in each song’s stories. History lecturers takes note; Sweden’s finest power metal export is doing your job better than you, and have been for nigh on two decades.
‘Shiroyama’ details the ultimate fate of 500 outnumbered Samurai against an invading Imperialist Japan, and precedes ‘Winged Hassars’ (the feared Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth cavalry). These two songs might just be the best on the album. They’re the epitome of everything that makes both Sabaton and power metal great; wailing synths and guitars, blistering drums, and unbridled epical story telling. BRING IT THE FUCK ON. ‘The Last Battle’ rounds out the album on a slightly less blistering one-two-punch of unmitigated eminence, but is still a spirited final act that takes an infectiously 80’s approach to the end of the second world war.
For fans, The Last Stand will more than satisfy cravings for the unrivalled and distinct enormity of Sabaton’s metal-driven history lessons. From the uninitiated, this is an above average album that is sure to set you delving in to the past of both Sabaton, and the storied heroes they detail so sublimely in every one of their ginormous songs.
1 – Sparta 4:25
2 – Last Dying Breath 3:26
3 – Blood of Bannockburn 2:57
4 – Diary of an Unknown Soldier 0:51
5 – The Lost Battalion 3:39
6 – Rorke’s Drift 3:28
7 – The Last Stand 3:58
8 – Hill 3234 3:31
9 – Shiroyama 3:36
10 – Winged Hussars 3:53
11 – The Last Battle 3:12
By Todd Gingell
Check out some of the songs from The Last Stand below….