The latest record from the almighty Sabaton, 2016’s ‘The Last Stand’, serves as further proof that these guys are one of the most exciting bands in metal today. There is rarely a stylistic diversion between records with this band, at least one that’s blatantly noticeable, but the continuous strength of this band is their incredible ability to rally the hordes with the almighty sing-along chorus. What Sabaton represent is nothing short of a larger than life itself celebration of the joys in belonging to a culture, a sovereign people. They’re also, purposefully and fervently, an impossible band to deny. If you don’t like Sabaton, simply put, you are pretty damn lame.
The opening track on the record is “Sparta”, which tells the story of the Battle of Thermopylae, and aside from being an absolute instant classic, it’s important due to its implications for this record. This record’s concept centers around famous “last stand” battles throughout history, hence the title of the record. This record serves as a testimony to bravery and, given this implication, it easily lends itself to the struggles that the listener may be going through in their own life. Although, it may be worth noting, as it could be a factor, if you don’t know your history you might not get this record (study up, this stuff is important). Other tracks on this record that serve as undeniable highlights are “The Lost Battalion”, “The Last Stand”, “Shiroyama”, and “Winged Hussars”, which all represent the same quality of existence as “Sparta” and best represent what this incredible band is capable of at the peak of their powers. It’s difficult to discuss these tracks as individual entities, because they are all very similar musically. Power metal is an exciting, enthralling, over-the-top subgenre of metal, but it certainly isn’t a diverse style of music. That said, that’s hardly the point of power metal; it’s about celebration. This, occasionally, will serve as a much-needed breath of fresh air, and Sabaton have certainly come along to fill any vacancy that may have existed in metal.
This record, with its relative sameness throughout, still undoubtedly accomplishes being a solid metal record. Sabaton have a refreshing sense of directness in their messages and their delivery. This certainly makes them one of power metal’s least pretentious acts, seeing as they don’t seem to acknowledge any sort of preoccupation with their own grandiosity. These guys are simply about fun, celebration, and all things that make life worth living in the first place. In fact, that might be the most apt description of Sabaton: a pure, grandiose celebration of life itself. Perhaps not since Ronnie James Dio has the broad, wide-ranging genre of metal had a force for good to the degree that this band has embraced these terms of endearment. This band is without a doubt one of the brightest lights in metal today and their seeming ease in continuing to pump out essential history lessons within a handful of minutes is something that is truthfully unique and, in its own way, rather daring in its scope and vision. This is a record by a band that mas mastered their own terms, which rarely ever tire or bore.