Monday, August 22, 2016

Sabaton - The Last Stand (2016)

Despite having trouble with remaining a stable line-up for more than a couple of years, Swedish power metalers Sabaton keeps their flag held high, and continues to be one of the leaders in the genre with their bombastic songs about war and... more war. Joakim Brodén leads his army with an iron fist, delivers great live performances, and makes sure to give us some good history lessons every time a new CD is released. Yet, I still am having a hard time to fully appreciate the band, mostly because they keep re-inventing the wheel, never bringing anything new to the table.

Which leads me to the new album, entitled "The Last Stand", which is yet another Sabaton album that is sing along friendly, epic, powerful, and extremely predictable. The band is not doing anything wrong per se, their performance is spot on, the production is just as big as it should be, and they stay true to their sound, but when a band has done more or less the same thing for 8 albums in a row, you cannot help to feel full, that you cant stand it for any long periods. It is just not exciting enough.

Even the lyrical department have not changed one bit since the start, yet it is that part of Sabaton that will always be the most intriguing. In this album, Sabaton takes us all over the world to famous battles that turned out to be decisive for their respective wars. We get to know about Leonidas and the 300 of Sparta, the first war of Scottish independence, Japanese samurais, and a hell of a lot more. No other band out there can make you go on to Google and do some thorough researching. This also follows the line in which the band has gone for the last couple of albums, settle with a sort of theme and go with it. We had Swedish history in "Carolus Rex", stories about heroes in "Heroes", and now this. A neat strategy that works really well.

Comparing the song material here with the predecessor "Heroes", I feel like "The Last Stand" has a lot more bite to it, more songs that stand out and catches your attention. Simply put, it is better. Well, the variation is, as usual when it comes to Sabaton, close to non existent, but there is nothing wrong with the enthusiasm the band is showing. It is the little things that makes the songs stand out, like the powerful OOH AAH in "Sparta", the more metallic approach in "Rorke's Drift", or the bagpipes + keyboard solo in "Blood of Bannockburn". While it may not be enough to revolutionize Sabaton, it does help to keep the sound fresh, even if that freshness wares off fairly quickly.

The quality is there, the power as well, and the performance is flawless, so why am I not loving this album? The reason being is that I have heard this before, Sabaton is not bringing something new to the table. "The Last Stand" is most certainly an album with lots of positive qualities, and it is one of the better albums the Swedes have made, but I need to see more from this band to raise that rating even higher. This will most likely not be Sabaton's last stand, and that is good, because they still got a lot of fire arms to fire at all of us. However, they gonna need a lot of ammo to get me down, that's for sure.

Songs worthy of recognition: Rorke's Drift, Sparta, Shiroyama

Rating: 7/10 Lost Battalions

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