Alright, so after spending a fine evening listening to The Last Stand, I have to say I was not disappointed from start to finish.
It’s been a while since I’ve done an album review so I thought why not write one for Sabaton’s new album?
Just like previous reviews I have done, this one is just going to be based on the music. I would have to do a ton of research if I wanted to go into detail about the story each of these songs tell, and frankly I don’t feel motivated to do that for an album review when I like to talk about the music itself. But, when the time comes to feature a song from this album for Metal Monday, then I’ll go into depth about the story behind the song as well!
Well enough of that, let’s get this rolling!
This song serves as one of the perfect intros I’ve heard since Ghost Division from The Art of War. Once the opening instrumental begins….you know something epic is coming. It sounds almost like the intro to Within Temptation’s album The Silent Force. The moment the beat and melody goes straight into Sabaton’s signature power metal sound and the “ooh aah” begins, it just gives you the desire to headbang; just like it the opening instrumental to Carolus Rex; when the drums and riffs start to kick in that is. All I can think about at this moment is three hundred Spartans charging into battle only to their final stand, especially during the chorus. I feel like this song could be a potential opening at a Sabaton gig but I highly doubt they will replace Ghost Division with it. Oh well, maybe the first of the encore songs? My brother would probably like this song since he enjoys these stories from ancient Greece.
Last Dying Breath
After a powerful intro to the album with Sparta we get to this song, much faster and slightly harder. I don’t love it, but I certainly do not hate it. It sounds like it gives you the motivation where you have one last chance to achieve something and you’re willing to do anything to get it right, even if it kills you. (Not literally but still) Now I’m thinking of soldiers on the brink of death, another final stand for sure.
Blood of Bannockburn
When I first heard this song, it sounded a little too “happy” and unexpected from what I’m used to hearing from Sabaton. It’s okay, but not something I’d want to listen and turn up. If this is another type of last stand, it just….I don’t know…it doesn’t sound like a song that suits a situation in war like that. To me, it sounds more like something you’d listen when you’re marching into battle at the start of a war or something played after achieving victory. Then again, that’s me. I think this one needs to grow on me a little more. Like I said, definitely not what I expected.
Diary of an Unknown Soldier
Listening to this just makes The Lost Battalion sound even more epic as it builds up the hype for another really powerful song on this album. It’s so emotional while you’re listening to the words spoken. It makes you want to put yourself in the boots of those American soldiers lost in the Argonne forest in 1918 hunted by the Germans. It reminds me of history class where I had to do an assignment of pretending to be a soldier in WWI writing to his family about his experience being in the trenches, braving the hazards of them, and climbing into no man’s land. Even though this battle is entirely different, just listening to the words from the perspective of someone who could have been there and survived…it only gives me the chills just before we jump into the powerful song such as…..
The Lost Battalion
The first single that was released from this album. I still remember playing this on repeat on almost a daily basis. I would sing this song a lot too. The first time I heard it lyric-wise; I thought it was a sound slightly similar to Carolus Rex only with more meaningful lyrics that told more of a story. The solo is very powerful on this one and the pre-chorus just makes you want to belt it out increasing the volume of your voice as you approach the chorus. Sometimes I picture myself flying and singing this song too, which is funny because it’s not a song about power and freedom; it’s about desperation. So maybe why I picture that regardless is because of the sound and not the lyrics! Nevertheless I will likely sing this one as loud as possible next time I see Sabaton live. I never understood why some fans didn’t like this song. I think the riff is epic; especially halfway through the verses, and now that we have the narration on the previous track to lead up to it….it makes it sound even better!
A fast one here, probably the fastest of all the songs on this album. I don’t mind fast Sabaton songs but to a certain limit; I like Gott Mit Uns which is also a fast paced Sabaton song. Mostly the ones that turn me on are the slower ones with the powerful riffs or something at a medium pace. Nevertheless, I’m not totally crazy about this song, but then again maybe I need to listen to it a few more times too!
The Last Stand
The title song of this album. I was actually was looking forward to hearing this one after I kept hearing samples of the final 30 seconds that would play at the end of videos posted by Nuclear Blast’s YouTube channel about the album trailers and lyric videos for the three singles that the band released. It’s definitely got a religious feel to it and I love the riffs and the church bells at the intro; which is another thing that gets you pumped up that this is going to be another great track. For some reason the riffs reminded me of the chorus for 1648, it sounds so similar. Anyway, yeah this song is pretty catchy for being the title one. Something tells me that once I memorize the lyrics, the chorus is going to be another one aside from The Lost Battalion that I’m going to be singing to myself randomly.
Like Rorke’s Drift, I wasn’t too crazy about this track either. But I will tell you one thing, I like the riffs and melody in this one better. It sounds a lot darker more battle-like for a sort of last stand situation. You know what I mean; with all those lyrics such as “hold your ground” I know I’m picturing soldiers on a hill, but like I said: let me feature this song on Metal Monday regardless of how much I like it before you correct me on what historical battle it’s about. I will research it when I feature it and that’s a promise!
This is my second favourite out of the three singles the band released before the album released. For some reason it got a tiny bit of hate from some fans and fan pages. I didn’t understand why, but the riff sounds like Ghost Division almost; however it doesn’t have the same feeling as that song and Sparta that would be ideal to play as the first on a set list. Still, this song is also pretty catchy and I don’t want to think too much of the guns vs the swords. I would rather think about samurais in general rather than their last stand! The bridge is my favourite part; feels like something that would be heard before charging into battle somehow.
A fan favourite and now I love it too. I feel like I am the only fan who didn’t listen to this song when fans proceeded to take fragments of it from tour announcement videos, resulting in the samples being combined into fan videos to increase the hype. One time one of my favourite Sabaton meme pages took the scene from Battle of the Bastards and spoofed it with Joakim and Chris leading the Knights of the Vale to turn the tide of the battle with a snippet of the song playing. Just when all hope seems lost…then the winged hussars arrive! That’s what this song feels like; the tide of a battle turns when defeat draws near. It’s so easy to think of an army mounted on horses riding down the hillside to assist their allies who are outnumbered. Just about any epic battle can be pictured, even ones in fantasy like the battles of Helm’s Deep and Minas Tirith in LOTR. Gandalf arrives atop the hill with reinforcements to aid Helm’s Deep and Theoden’s army arrives to assist the forces of Gondor, and yes, the battle of the bastards too! Even though Sabaton makes songs about real historical battles, still I find myself picturing fantasy battles where the winged hussars arrive to turn the tide of the battle when all hope seems lost for the good guys hahahaha!!!
The Last Battle
For the final track on the album, I’d say this one is another that has to grow on me but it’s only second to Last Dying Breath which is in first place in terms of songs on this albums that I feel neutral about. It has a slightly more powerful feeling compared to Hill 3234 and Rorke’s Drift, probably because of the pace, I just find that if a power metal song is too fast it doesn’t feel as powerful if you know what I mean. Still, this is a pretty decent song but if I had to choose between listening to it and the title track; I would pick the title track in a heartbeat. The chorus makes me think of forces joining together to take down an even bigger threat or save lives.
So over all I’d say this album was excellent, even if not every song on it appealed to me. I’d say that I fell in love with just enough tracks for me to give it a five star rating. They remained true to their word and it definitely sounds like the Sabaton I know and love. I enjoyed the main focus of this album too which is about iconic historical final battles in wars all from different time periods. Some of them I knew from history class and others I learned something new from this album.
My favourite tracks:
- Diary of an Unknown Soldier
- The Lost Battalion
- The Last Stand
- Winged Hussars
Definitely worth my time listening to, highly recommend if you’re looking to get in to power metal, or you’re new to Sabaton and hope to find a place to start or continue your journey through their discography.