By David Winlo
Everyone’s favourite Swedish power metal group is back, with another concept album. Upon hearing the first single from The Last Stand, titled ‘The Lost Battalion’, I must admit I wasn’t sure we were in for a worthy successor to the fabulous Heroes album. I didn’t exactly mind the change of style, as style changes are often very positive, but this felt like a step in the wrong direction, musically. When hearing the rest of the album though, the song fits in very well between two somewhat livelier tracks.
I immediately liked the story of this first track, of an American battalion making a last stand under terrible conditions whilst lost in the Argonne in France during WWI. The whole album is once again filled with an array of astonishing stories from history, this time all of dynamic ‘last stand’ battles. This album is more wide ranging than any previous effort from Sabaton, both musically and geographically in terms of inspiration. By track three we have visited Greece, Serbia and Scotland. By track nine we’ve been as far as South Africa and Japan. Long-time fans will be pleased by the new subject matter, which along with the general theme of last stands makes for a fascinating and lyrically exciting album.
Sabaton are a band who tend to stick to a formula when writing music. In some bands, this gets annoying very quickly. With some variations to it though, Sabaton have filled this album with soaring solos, catchy riffs and their classic and addictive keyboards. Fans of the band’s energetic live shows will enjoy some of these new songs. Personal favourites include ‘Blood of Bannockburn’ about the Scottish Revolution, ‘Shiroyama’ about the last stand of the samurai, in which every one of the last samurai was killed, and ‘Winged Hussars’ about the Polish Hussars and their role in the Battle of Vienna.
If you are a history student, or you have a non-academic interest in history, this album and this band are high on my list of recommendations to you.
Image from Sabaton.net