Thursday, September 1, 2016

Sabaton - The Last Stand Album Review

If you've read my blog in the past, you know that I don't use too many swear words. In fact, I try to avoid swearing as much as possible. This review's going to be a little different. Expect some swearing. Fuck.

Sabaton is back baby! Heroes was kind of a weird album. The band had just significantly changed its line-up and they decided to go with more personal lyrics rather than focusing on an entire army or battle. It was still a good album (I even bought a copy), but it felt a bit weaker than Sabaton's previous releases. One of the main problems was the lyrics. A lot of them felt like they were just recounting someone's life rather than being an entertaining song that you can sing along to. For example, the chorus to Inmate 4859 goes something like:

Witold, Witold, who knows his name?

Inmate in hell or a hero in prison?
Soldier in Auschwitz who knows his name
Locked in a cell, waging war from the prison
Hiding in Auschwitz who hides behind 4859

Well call The Last Stand a return to form, because it's fucking awesome. There's plenty of parts to sing along to and shout out loud as they come up. From your Last Dying Breath to the samurai facing down an army in Shiroyama to the motherfucking Winged Hussars arriving. And don't get me started on Sparta, what an great way to start an album. I just want to punch shit as the hoo's and haw's are being shouted. Both times I've seen Sabaton live, they opened with Ghost Division, and I strongly suggest this gets replaced with Sparta. If it's not at least somewhere in their live show, then whoever creates the setlist should be fired. I don't care if it's the whole fucking band.

The Last Stand feels like a return to form to some extent. Sure, The Last Stand feels a lot like Coat of Arms and the tom drum parts of The Lost Battalion remind me of Carolus Rex, but both Coat of Arms and Carolus Rex are fucking amazing songs and both part of the reason I listen to Sabaton. Many classic Sabaton elements are in full display here, from the big operatic choruses to keyboard parts that add significantly to the songs. Let's just chalk up Heroes to growing pains after the line-up change.

I'd also like to mention the bonus songs. They're all fucking awesome. Special mention goes to All Guns Blazing.

So is The Last Stand Sabaton's best album? Maybe. Most of Sabaton's albums blend together for me. When I listen to them, I usually jump from album to album without giving too much thought where each specific song came from.What I can confidently say though is that there's no bad songs on The Last Stand. The only bad thing I can say is that The Last Tour is an awful fucking name for a tour if it's not your last! I don't care if it's a play on the album name. It was announced before the album was even out and it gave half your fanbase a heart attack. Fuck you. (Love you)

I don't give albums numerical ratings because it's largely just an arbitrary thing, but here's the information you need to know: if you like Sabaton even a little bit, go fucking pick up this album. Fuck. That being said, if you don't like Sabaton, I don't know if this album is going to turn you around on them. I'd call this a 'classic' Sabaton album, maybe even a quintessential one, but that's because they stick to their sound and do it really well. There aren't too many new ideas to be found on The Last Stand. If you're someone who doesn't like Sabaton (and I know there's at least one of you out there), let me know if this album made you like them. Thanks.

-Zombie Viking

P.S. RIP Thobbe, you will be missed and you were a great guitarist. But Sabaton replaced him with another fantastic human being; Tommy Johannson. He plays in a couple other bands, including a surprisingly good Christian metal band named Golden Resurrection (yes, really). But mostly, I'll always associate him with this video. What a great guy.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Gunsen - The Adventure of the Devil's Note Album Review

Hello everyone! It's been almost 2 years since I abandoned this blog for bigger and better things. But, almost as if someone is pressuring me to do this, I decided out of the blue to sacrifice my precious free time and write a new album review for your reading pleasure. So sit down, strap on some headphones, and get ready to go on an adventure. The Adventure of the Devil's Note.

Before we get into the review proper, I'll share the little background info I have on Mr. Gunsen. He's best known as one of the guitarists of the Polish power metal band Pathfinder. I've posted about Pathfinder in the past, they're a pretty good band and you should listen to them if you don't already. But they haven't put out any new music since 2012 and have only relatively recently replaced their old vocalist. So what has Gunsen been doing when he's not making guest solos for every band in Poland? I have no idea, but apparently he made an album at some point.

Hearing that an album is from the solo project of a power metal guitarist undoubtedly gives some expectations when listening to it. I'm happy to say that The Adventure of the Devil's Note subverts many of these right off the bat. I would have initially thought the Gunsen solo project would be something similar to Gus G's solo work. Instrumental guitar wankery with maybe some guest vocalists and stuff. However, this 'solo' project is actually more of a band. Gunsen the band is made up of Gunsen on guitars, Grzegorz Pastor Slomba on vocals, Arkadiusz E. Ruth on bass, and Grzegorz Hiero on drums (sorry if I got any of your crazy Polish names wrong). This gives the whole album a much more cohesive sound, there's no tracks with weird vocals that don't quite fit. All the songs are in the same style and it helps the album flow really well. Another thing worth mentioning is that The Adventure of the Devil's Note isn't even power metal, it's something a lot closer to melodeath. But don't worry, there's still all the guitar wankery you'd expect (and hope for) from a power metal guitarist.

The Adventure of the Devil's Note flys at a breakneck pace with plenty of blast beats, awesome screaming vocals, and epic keyboards (why do bands never credit whoever plays the keyboard?). Gunsen also isn't afraid to experiment with different elements, like the industrial parts in Time of Machines or different electronic and symphonic stuff spread out everywhere. The album runs at a cool 58 minutes and never slows down besides Kotoro, which spends the beginning and end of its 10 minutes building up an ancient Japanese ambiance. Because of this, it's definitely one of the stand out songs but not the first in a long line of unexpected twists on this album.

I'm not going to spend too long on the lyrics because this is metal and nobody cares. But there seems to be some sort of obsession with turning animals into freakish metal monsters (Metal Chicken, Super Pig, and Hellish Kitty). There's quite a bit of meowing on Hellish Kitty in particular. Anyway...

Gunsen brands his solo project as "total war against shit in mass media", and, well, there's no mass media shit in here. Maybe he should send music to Fox News or something to make it total war. But ignoring all of that, The Adventure of the Devil's Note is a solid melodeath/power album. It was totally not what I was expecting when I clicked play and I think it'll stay in my playlist for quite a bit. I hope that many of the music elements that were developed here will be used in the future on future Gunsen or Pathfinder albums.

-Zombie Viking