Having given Sabaton‘s latest offering ‘The Last Stand’, a few spins by now, I would have to admit that it’s not, unfortunately, one of their strongest albums. It seems a little uneven with some really strong songs and others that feel like they haven’t been given the full care and attention needed, leading to an album of highs and lows. As the title suggests this album concentrates on some of history’s more famous military last stands and tales of heroism in typical Sabaton fashion, and I don’t think anyone else does it justice in the manner they do.
The album starts fantastically with the gloriously up tempo ‘Sparta’, the theme tune 300 was crying out for and a song that will be incredible played live. Next up is ‘Last Dying Breath’ which sounds forced and generally lacking in the production stakes. Things then take a massive stride in the right direction again with ‘Blood Of Bannockburn’; a fantastic post-Brexit Scottish anthem (what I wouldn’t give to hear it played in Glasgow). The pace then slows right down for the spoken ‘Diary Of An Unknown Soldier’ which could realistically have been left off the album entirely. Its purpose is merely an overlong intro to ‘The Lost Battalion’ which has a typically big Sabaton chorus and is all the better for it.
‘Rorke’s Drift’ seems to borrow from ‘Resist And Bite’ from previous album ‘Heroes’ but fails to deliver in the same manner. This is certainly not the case with the title track. ‘The Last Stand’ is definitely one of the strongest songs on the album and finds the band in fantastic form, really delivering a performance that truly gives this song the epic feel that it deserves. ‘Hill 3234’ follows and while it’s a good tune it is just not special enough, although it does boast one of the better guitar solos on the entire album.
‘Shiroyama’! An absolutely fantastic song given the fullest attention by the band and it soars with Joakim’s vocals outstanding throughout. This composition is the highlight of the album for me at least and is followed quickly by ‘The Winged Hussars’ which has a huge, almost cinematic, feel to it. The album is really at its best by now, because the closing song on the album is aptly titled ‘The Last Battle’ which is another powerful piece, both in terms of delivery and subject matter.
The version of the album I reviewed had two additional tracks which strayed from the theme of the other songs. First up was the cheesy but incredibly fun cover of Stan Ridgway’s ‘Camouflage’, I defy you not to want to sing the chorus aloud. The less said about the last track the better really, a pretty bad cover of Judas Priest’s ‘All Guns Blazing’ which isreally disappointing given some of their previous covers.
Sabaton’s ‘The Last Stand’ sounds really good; The vocals are excellent throughout and the general musicianship is terrific. I thoroughly enjoyed checking out a lot of the song references and it really helps bring the songs to life in a way that some bands are unable to do.
Overall, I’d rate it as a 3/5, which possibly sounds very harsh but I found ‘The Last Stand’ to be uneven and it’s near impossible to judge any song without taking the back catalogue into consideration. That being said, there are songs on this album that I cannot wait to hear on the upcoming tour.
‘The Last Stand’ is out now on Nuclear Blast Records.
02. Last Dying Breath
03. Blood Of Bannockburn
04. Diary Of An Unknown Soldier
05. The Lost Battalion
06. Rorke’s Drift
07. The Last Stand
08. Hill 3234
10. Winged Hussars
11. The Last Battle