Sabaton new album
For their latest studio album,Swedish power metal/war metal stalwarts Sabaton once again went with a single thread running through the album as they previously did on 2014’s “Heroes”.This time the thread is last stands from warfare through the centuries.The album,cunningly titled “The Last Stand” tells the tale of a mixture of both famous and not so famous battles against seemingly unsurpassable odds.War movie aficionados will no doubt recognise most of the tales but they also just might sound familiar to anyone recently finished their history exams.Not just an album but also a history lesson to boot,”The Last Stand” is gloriously over the top and despite the sombre subject matter it’s actually quite an upbeat album,must be the famous bouncing Sabaton sound that stirs the emotions.
“Sparta” opens the album up with some heavy synths and chants that anyone who has sat through the movie “300” more than once will have attempted in the bizarre accent that Gerard Butler insists on using.The song sets the scene for what’s to follow,an epic sound that gradually builds up to a crescendo of layered vocals that get the loins stirring and the baby oil out of retirement,the guitars are pushed to the background and it’s not until the solo late on that they are prominent.”Last Dying Breath” is similar in that it’s chock full of heavy keyboards,more of a classic hard rock sound rather than power metal.It tells the tale of the defence of Belgrade in 1915 where the Serbian commander Major Gavrilovic spurred on his heavily outnumbered and outgunned troops with the words “Don’t worry about your lives,they’re already lost.You have been written into the history books.Forward to glory,for king and country,long live the king,long live Belgrade”.It must have worked as the commander of the rival German army erected a monument on the battlegound in honour of the fallen Serbian soldiers with the words “Here Rest Serbian Heroes” inscribed in both German and Serbian.See,like I said earlier,not just an album but also a history lesson.
Now it seems that “Blood Of Bannockburn” is the track that has divided the Sabaton faithful,the bagpipes seem to have alienated just as many as those that enjoyed them.Hardly the first time that the pipes have been used in metal or rock but perhaps maybe the most prominent,it’s full on celtic metal/rock with a galloping tempo that improves with each listen.Again the guitars take a back seat but there is a classic Deep Purple inspired dual between the hammond organ and the guitar mid song.’Diary Of An Unknown Soldier’ is a short spoken word piece that leads into ‘The Lost Battalion’,a stirring and atmospheric few minutes with an effective orchestral arrangement in the background,again the chorus succeeds in getting the blood pumping in true Sabaton
style.’Rorke’s Drift’ has a cracking guitar intro,very Iron Maiden influenced and the song rattles along at quite a pace,this will be the one on the album that gets the crowd bouncing when played live and damn it’s good to hear the guitars back at the front.
The title track is up next with more of the familiar bouncing keyboard sound and at the risk of being shot down this would actually sound great on Eurovision,it’s bombastic with a massive singalong chorus and a nonthreatening guitar sound that even Graham Norton would headbang to.”Hill 3234” ramps it up again with a pounding drum beat and the mid section will have many breaking into their best James Hetfield impersonations as it has a bit of a “Creeping Death” vibe to it.Like “Blood Of Bannockburn”,”Shiroyama” verges on the cheesey side,but thankfully the good side and doesn’t go full cheese,the end result is a catchy up tempo track that will have the front few rows bouncing like loons.’Winged Hussars’ has the great battle cry of “Then The Winged Hussars Arrive…” along with an overload of backing vocals that give the song a deep almost operatic feel.’The Last Battle’ closes the standard version of the album with galloping riffs,more keys and a Rocky style bounce,listen to the intro without thinking of Rocky …nope can’t be done.But you should go for the deluxe version as not only does it include a full lenth live DVD but a totally gonzo cover of what else but ‘Camouflage’ made famous by Stan Ridgway way back in the mid eighties.
You know what you are going to get on a Sabaton album,rousing anthems that inspire drunken singalongs and en masse bouncing,’The Last Stand’ does all that and way much more.