REVIEW: SABATON – “The Last Stand”
Dawn 'Mama Love' Brown
One great thing about the metal industry is there’s something for everyone. From Death metal to Progressive to the Cores (i.e. Grindcore, Metalcore, etc.), one can pretty much find a Cadre of bands fitting with the listener’s interests. Even if those interests lie outside the realm of the dark arts.
For you history buffs out there, there is no better history lesson than a Sabaton song. Hailing from Falun, Sweden, Sabaton has been composing Power Metal gems since 1999 with their debut album being released in 2005. The band, consisting of founding members Joakim Brodén and Pär Sundström on vocals and bass respectively, Hannes Van Dahl on drums and Chris Rörland on guitar, has bounced back nicely after a slight shake-up in 2012 which brought in new bandmates. They’ve had another recent departure from the band as well but there’s nothing that can keep these guys down.
Their most recent offering, ‘The Last Stand’, is set to release in mid-August (2016), an 11-track jewel in the ever-growing crown of Power Metal. With clear vocals, ripping solos and epic lyrics, Sabaton paints a vivid picture of battle, from the Scottish Revolution to World War II. The songs are rich and robust, full of energy and sound like anthems to commemorate history’s greatest conquests.
Starting with “Sparta”, Sabaton marches their way through Ancient Greece with killer guitar work and a chorus that sounds like it’s being sung by 150 people. This is a recurring element of the album, hence the anthem comparison. We next travel to Germany with “Last Dying Breath”, and then on to Scotland with “Blood of Bannockburn”, a rousing call to rally the clans to make a stand. Starting out with the majestic sound of bagpipes, the song makes the listener Scottish for a few minutes and fills one with pseudo Scottish pride. Too bad battle wasn’t really as much fun as Sabaton makes it sound.
The only spoken word on this album is “Diary of an Unknown Soldier” which acts as an intro to “The Last Battalion”, a tribute to The Great War with a really cool metallic accent to the drum beats. As with pretty much all the songs on this album, the chorus has multiple voices blending into a declaration of courage and freedom worthy of goosebumps. Rounding out the album are a handful of songs dedicated to their own fleeting scenes of national pride, or disgrace, as the case may be. Stand-outs include “Hill 3234”, a prog/punk infused song about a Soviet battle in Afghanistan, and “Winged Hussars” which references Medieval Europe and has a keyboard sound similar to that of Christian/nu metal rockers, Skillet. Don’t get the wrong idea, Sabaton doesn’t sound like Skillet. But, if you’re familiar with them, you’ll hear it.
Sabaton has tons of experience cranking out the Power Metal and this record is no exception. These guys are good at what they do, presenting a solid opus with amazing musicianship with a little less of the cheese factor that some vaguely similar bands suffer from. Give this a listen. If you like Power Metal, you’ll love it.