Very few bands in the heavy metal world have provided such an all-around solid discography quite like Sabaton. The Swedish metal heroes’ newest effort The Last Stand is no exception to the band’s consistency. With signature elements that easily appeal to old and new fans alike, The Last Stand encompasses everything I love about metal in the 21st century, and does it in such a way that stays true to the sound that has made them so well-known.
The album’s opener “Sparta” is sure to catch your attention right away. Its heavy guitars, pounding drums, and prominent synths are classic Sabaton, and an excellent way to kick off the record. The third track, “Blood Of Bannockburn,” is easily my favourite off the album. Introducing bagpipes into the mix, a simple, yet effective lead guitar line shortly follows. Both elements work infectiously well together and are sure to get stuck in your head. The driving rhythm brings it all together once the drums are introduced and the optimistic lyrics compliment the upbeat rhythm so perfectly. It may be one of my favourite tunes they’ve ever done. The album dips in energy immediately after, presenting a couple of slower songs. Just as the album starts to lose my attention throughout its middle section with its calmer pace and occasionally over-the-top lyrics about war, the record picks right back up with “Hill 3234’s” crazy drum intro. Things stay at a steady pace until the appropriately named “The Last Battle” rounds out the forty-five-minute record.
Although there aren’t any weak songs on this thing, there’s not much that stands out for being incredibly amazing, either. Aside from Blood Of Bannockburn, no song hits that level of, “Oh, fuck yeah, this is gonna be good.” Where this album falters most is its music. The melodies and chord progressions are relatively uninteresting, causing the focus to shift to Joakim Broden’s lyrics, which are a bit of an acquired taste if you’re not a history buff. Songs like “The Lost Battalion” and “The Last Stand” are my least favourites for that very reason. They introduce some pretty safe elements that Sabaton fans are already more than familiar with, leaving these tunes to be pretty forgettable by the end of the album’s runtime.
All in all, The Last Stand is a solid, if repetitive effort from one of my favourite metal acts. The production quality is top-notch, and the massive instruments quickly help them achieve that loud, battle-influenced sound that their music needs. Although I wish Sabaton would introduce new elements more often to avoid feeling like I’m listening to the same new songs every two years, it was an enjoyable experience that will please diehard fans and casuals alike. If, for whatever reason, you’ve been holding off on giving this band a proper chance, The Last Stand is as good a record as any to know what they’re all about.
Written by Mathieu Perrier
*edited by Danielle Kenedy