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Sabaton - The Last Stand album review

Stampeding Swedes prove understatement is overrated.

Sabaton The Last Stand album cover

Hitting their jack-booted stride once more after a slight wobble in 2012 that saw most of their original line-up quit, Sweden’s elite power-metal battalion again turn military history into gloriously butch anthems on their eighth studio album.

This time the defining conceptual thread is life-or-death battles both ancient and modern, opening with the magnificent electro-rock fanfares of Sparta, which is every bit as operatically overblown and chest-thumpingly homoerotic as Zack Snyder’s movie on the same subject, 300.

The remaining tracks vary in quality, sagging a little on the bagpipe-bloated Braveheart bombast like Blood Of Bannockburn before soaring to symphonic Rammstein-go-Eurovision heights on Winged Hussars and The Last Stand. Joakim Brodén’s high-decibel history lessons are inherently preposterous, of course, but at their best, Sabaton tap into the exhilarating mix of anarchy and discipline that defines all the greatest heavy rock bands.

Stephen Dalton has been writing about all things rock for more than 30 years, starting in the late Eighties at the New Musical Express (RIP) when it was still an annoyingly pompous analogue weekly paper printed on dead trees and sold in actual physical shops. For the last decade or so he has been a regular contributor to Classic Rock magazine. He has also written about music and film for Uncut, Vox, Prog, The Quietus, Electronic Sound, Rolling Stone, The Times, The London Evening Standard, Wallpaper, The Film Verdict, Sight and Sound, The Hollywood Reporter and others, including some even more disreputable publications.