Something hideous has come back to life in the state of Maryland. After disappearing below ground for almost three years (save for one transitory single released last year), two founding members of Baltimore Death/Grind/Hardcore/Thrash act Noisem have clawed their way slowly back up through the dank, fetid earth to vomit their third full length(ish) album all over our faces.Continue reading →
This is another of those reviews where readers with only a passing interest in the featured band will get to the end with a mild shrug and say something like, “yeah, sounds about right”, whereas loyal fans will skip straight to the bottom, take the disappointingly low rating as a personal insult to their musical taste, and march angrily towards the Caps Lock button, teeth clenched and fingers ready to wage bloody internet warfare.
The sad fact though, Sabaton fans, is that you’ve heard all of this from them before. And better. Basically just a rhyming version of historical Wikipedia entries, The Last Stand (Nuclear Blast) is where the band’s particular creative well appears to have, at least temporarily, dried up.
Opening track ‘Sparta’ stumbles out of the blocks first. Fueled initially by typical bombast and big drums, it’s almost instantly ruined by a comical “Ooh Arr!” gang vocal which sounds like English “Scrumpy and Western” band, The Wurzels. Things pick up briefly with the ’80s vibe of ‘Last Dying Breath’, but then swiftly plummet to an all time low with the frankly embarrassing ‘Blood of Bannockburn’. We all know Sabaton serve their metal with a large side order of cheese, and that’s perfectly fine, but this is just a terrible, terrible song from bagpipe to end.
‘Diary of an Unknown Soldier’ serves as the introduction to ‘The Lost Batallion’, a plodding track, but one with a great chorus clearly designed for live shows and the best song so far. ‘Rorke’s Drift’ is fast but forgettable, and the title track is solid and definitely one of the album’s better tracks, but file ‘Hill 3234” in the same drawer as ‘Rorke’s Drift’.
Even the weakest albums can throw up the odd moment of genuine quality, and although it does nothing even remotely new, and happily continues the Sabaton trend of borrowing entries like “dawn”, “fight”, “battle”, “stand”, “surrender”, and “warrior” from Manowar‘s Big Book of Metal Words, ‘Shiroyama’ is ridiculously catchy and is easily the best song on the record. ‘Winged Hussars’ follows, but you probably won’t care about that because you’ll have either gone straight back to ‘Shiroyama’, or skipped it after a couple of minutes. Finally, ‘The Last Battle’ closes proceedings in inevitably predictable style.
Die-hard Sabaton fans will undoubtedly lap this up, and it’ll still probably sell like hot camouflage trousers, but there’s no getting around that the band have missed an opportunity here.