The Last Tour by Swedish power metal band Sabaton finally came to the Washington DC/Baltimore area last Monday night on the last show of their North American tour. This is a tour I have been waiting to cover for a while primary due to my obsession with military history, and history in general. And on top of that one of the supporting bands was Battle Beast and Leaves’ Eyes, possibly my favorite symphonic metal band. The last album released by Sabaton, ‘The Last Stand’, after which this tour was named, was very well received by fans and critics alike. Additionally, I had seen some phenomenal concert photographs of Sabaton clicked by some of my mentors and was raring to photograph this show. Let me dive in to the review now, you can check out the photographs at the bottom of the page.
The Finnish band Battle Beast was the first band of the night. Battle Beast first gained recognition as the winner of Wacken Metal Battle some years back, and have released four albums since then, ‘Bringer of Pain’ being the latest one. As soon as the lights went out, a short drum solo started the proceedings with the lead singer Noora Louhimo bursting in to “Straight to the Heart” followed by “Bringer of Pain”, the first two tracks off their recent album. An energetic performance by Noora Louhimo, with powerful yet melodic vocals, was well backed by the other band members. The lack of a local opening act meant that Battle Beast had a relatively decent setlist of eight songs, and I am not complaining about it. For the last song of the set, “Beyond the Burning Skies”, Elina Siirala of Leaves’ Eyes joined Battle Beast on the stage, the soprano adding another dimension to the rendition of this song. A fantastic start to the night, and Battle Beast left the stage to a resounding applause from the crowd.
I love symphonic metal with a soprano on the lead vocals, however I had not attended a live show of a symphonic metal band in years. Leaves’ Eyes, a powerhouse in symphonic metal, was the perfect band to end this drought. I love how this band over the years have seamlessly blended the powerful operatic vocals of Liv Kristine with the harsh vocals Alex Krull. The set started with “Halvdan the Black”, possibly the best song from ‘King of Kings’, the last album by Leaves’s Eyes. Liv Kristine is my favorite soprano in heavy metal, and I was skeptical how this band was going to do it without her. The song “Hell to The Heavens” is one of my favorite songs by Leaves’ Eyes and I have listened to this song an umpteenth number of times. The rendition of this song by Elina Siirala left no doubt that Leaves’ Eyes have found an equally skilled like for like replacement following the “not so amicable” splitting of the band with Liv Kristine. “Edge of Steel”, the third song of the setlist, was one of the few songs by the band with Elina Siirala that I was familiar with. Noora Louhimo joined Leave’s Eyes for the least song of the set. Leaves’ Eyes, you need to release a new album with your phenomenal new vocalist as soon as you can, we the fans can’t wait to see some new stuff with Elina Siirala on the vocals.
Now was the time for Sabaton, the headliner. One of the greatest assets of Sabaton, over the years, has been their skill in songwriting. The fans were chanting “Sabaton Sabaton” every single time someone came on to the stage to fix the assault rifle & helmet styled microphone stands. The excitement was palpable, and the short break of 25 minutes or so seemed like a long time. A drum solo, some guitarplay, and the songs “In the Army Now” and “The March to War” marked the entry of the band to the stage with. The band launched a blistering attack on their instruments while playing “Ghost Division” and “The Art of War”, songs from their 2008 album ‘The Art of War’. The ever smiling lead singer Joakim Brodén exclaimed, “…Monday nights are when shitty bands play..”, over which the crowd had a good giggle. The song “Blood of Bannockburn”, an ode to the battle of Bannockburn, was the first song played from the recent album. The signature stage moves of Joakim Broden as well as other musicians made it a night to behold, on addition to the excellent musicianship of the band. If you like military history or Sabaton, I highly recommend you browse the discography section on their website. It is loaded with historical facts on battles and other military history that have been subject of their songs. This was one of the finest nights I have had at a concert venue this year, the diversity of musical styles and the excellence of all the bands made it a spectacular show. The tour is done and dusted now, but you should check out the new albums by the bands when you can, on top of leaving yourself a mental note to attend a concert by the bands then next time they cross the Atlantic to our shores. Metal Nexus will be bringing many reviews in future. Keep following us. Adios!