Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Sabaton- The Last Stand

The first notes of the album start playing and one can feel the rage of war. It's pretty much like plunging into battle from the safety of home. The strength and determination of the Spartans fill my ears...
The Last Stand is the eighth studio album by Sabaton. As always, a Sabaton album is more or less like opening a history book and reading a summary  of some kind of war probably lost in time. But, if with Carolus Rex we had a taste of the military history of Sweden (under the rule of Charles XII), or with The Art of War we dived into Sun Tzu's work, what we have this time is a collection of almost impossible battles, some of them successful, some that ended in defeat. No matter what the result was, the epicness is ensured.
The songs keep coming to me and yeah, I can hear thick, heavy, military riffs and rhythms, like tanks and panzers, and hymnic choruses, but it's no different compared to their other albums (we can even say that their previous album, Heroes, had a wider range of elements). We all agree that Sabaton bring war in each of their musical lines, but the line between a characteristic sound and sounding just the same time after time is pretty thin and these guys cross the threshold at several points.
The structure of all the songs is more or less the same: a couple of verses, then eight-line choruses divided into two groups of four (making the fourth line of the second group instrumental is used at more than one song), then a solo, then the end; we are lucky if we hear a modulation, even if it's the typical one, one tone higher, in the final chorus (as happens in The Last Stand). We can find similar vocal lines, some classical style melodies here and there (for example, the solo in Hill 3234), a very simple harmony. Yes, as I said, pretty much the same; yet there are some remarkable elements.
The pipes and a brighter atmosphere in Blood of Bannockburn will no doubt bring us to the 14th century Scotland. The detail level in Diary of an Unknown Soldier and The Lost Batallion will make us feel like we are fighting in the Argonne. Musically speaking, Winged Hussars has some of the most differential elements in all the album, like a darker atmosphere (due to the use of the minor scale) or the effect caused by mixing the lyrics in the chorus and the final verses of the song.
Nevertheless, the real surprise, the real hit of this album is, in my opinion, the last one, The Last Battle. It appears as a perfect ending for this war. Its atmosphere takes me back to the 80s, with Europe, Doro Pesch, Yesterday & Today, but without losing that thick, then again military sound typical of Sabaton. It's pretty much like a fresh, motivating hymn.
Last, but not least, the four bonus tracks (all of them covers). I see them as good jobs, not far from their originals, yet showing all the main features of the Sabaton style.
To sum up, even if they sound the same after eight albums, my heart welcomes their melodies and catchy choruses with joy, even if logic says quite the contrary. They are still capable of telling interesting tales of war and motivating the audience with their marching military rhythms. So let's give this album a pass!!
Now, for you to enjoy, I'll leave here my favourite song of the album, The Last Battle:

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