I don’t know for sure, but I’m starting to think that there might be something in the old adage about familiarity breeding contempt; Here I am listening to Sparta, the first track on the new Sabaton album The Last Stand, it sounds very familiar indeed and consequently it’s all a bit ‘meh’…
Don’t get me wrong, I love a bit of military history masquerading as pop metal as much as the next man, but everything here just sounds a bit stale or, perhaps even worse, it sounds like we’ve heard it all before.
You want specifics? Sparta contains a massive chorus, featuring the ridiculous words “Sparta! Hellas! Slaughter! Persians!” which in the hands of say, Eric Adams and Joey DeMaio would have me donning my breastplate and heading out to do just that in the nearest discount carpet centre but here just sounds a bit twee and tired; Likewise next track Last Dying Breath, an identikit romp about the Kaiser threatening Belgrade in 1914, just leads the listener to thinking back to earlier, better incarnations of Sabaton (say the inestimable Carolus Rex album).
Third track Blood of Bannockburn is, in a word, risible. Parping keyboards that Uriah Heep would have turned their noses up at in 1978 and a frankly awful stench of Airbourne about the whole thing render this the worst song Sabaton has ever committed to vinyl. I never want to hear it again.
After that nadir things really can’t get any worse, and the rest of the album flashes by with a couple of highlights – Rorke’s Drift (which features some fabulous soloing) and closing track The Last Battle do at least restore a little faith in the band’s ability to get the blood pumping, whilst The Lost Battalion, with its heavily processed Blood Red Skies-type drum sound does at least point to the band looking to vary things a bit – but overall the album’s brevity – it’s only a little over half an hour in length, meaning that none of the tracks are given the chance to establish themselves in the mind of the listener – and the seeming paucity of new ideas lead this reviewer at least to suspect that this album will not be viewed by history as one of Sabaton’s best.
The Last Stand is out now.