Friday, July 13, 2012

Lostprophets - Weapons (Deluxe Edition)

Lostprophets
Weapons (Deluxe Edition)
Epic Records/Sony Music Entertainment

Welsh alternative/hard rock outfit Lostprophets made a huge impact on the scene with their debut effort ‘Thefakesoundofprogress’ (2000), with both fans and critics alike hailing the band as the next big thing. And sure enough, by the time they released their sophomore effort ‘Start Something’ (2004), it sure looked like the band were well on their way to fulfilling expectations. But with their third release ‘Liberation Transmission’ (2006), it was clear that things had changed within the band, with the Bob Rock produced effort bringing out a greater melodic edge to the band’s sound, which led some to believe they had lost some of the magic that made the band so special in the first place.
In response to the backlash of their last release, Lostprophets eventually emerged with ‘The Betrayed’ in 2010, which was not only darker and heavier than anything the band had released before, but also the songs on the album saw the band pulling back on the melodic tendencies in their song writing. Not surprisingly, the album was something quite experimental for the band, and polarised fans. Two years on, and Lostprophets (Comprising of vocalist Ian Watkins, lead guitarist Lee Gaze, rhythm guitarist Mike Lewis, bassist/co-producer Stuart Richardson, keyboardist/sampler/backing vocalist Jamie Oliver and drummer Luke Johnson) are back with their all-important fifth full-length effort ‘Weapons’.
The album is opened up with ‘Bring ‘Em Down’ (The first single lifted from the album), and it’s a powerful statement from the band. Although the song isn’t anything you haven’t heard from the band before, the use of huge riffs, infectious synths/electronics and big catchy choruses give the song an unmistakable catchy groove, which will get even the most jaded of Lostprophets fans moving. Proving the band still have what it takes, the follow-up track ‘We Bring An Arsenal’ (The album’s second single, and which is introduced by a football chant of sorts) is every bit as punchy and energetic as the opener, and the kind of song that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on ‘Start Something’.
After the one-two punch of the opening pair of tracks, the band take the foot of the accelerator to something a little more cruising on ‘Another Shot’ and ‘Jesus Walks’. Although far from something unexpected or different, the songs are solid and catchy, and maintain the standard set from the start. Unfortunately, as promising as the guitars sound at the start of ‘A Song For Where I’m From’, the song turns out to be a fairly ordinary effort. There’s no denying it’s catchy, but it’s hard to overlook its blandness as well. The same can be said for the pop based ‘A Little Reminder That I’ll Never Forget’ and ‘Heart On Loan’, both of which lack any real sense of spark that was prevalent on the band’s earlier efforts.
‘Better Off Dead’ does manage to liven things up a bit, with the prominent guitars in the mix bringing to mind the vibe the band were going for on ‘The Betrayed’, albeit with a little more emphasis on the melodies in the choruses. But once again, the consistency takes a turn for the worse with the acoustic based ‘Somedays’ coming across as catchy, but fairly unremarkable.
Finishing up the album is the heavily orchestrated ‘Can’t Get Enough’ which does fair better than some of the songs around the tail end, but still falls a little short of what we’ve come to expect from album closers from the band.
As mentioned earlier, this review is for the deluxe edition, which boasts an additional five tracks tacked onto the end of the official album. The opening trio of tracks (‘The Dead’, ‘Save Yourself’ and ‘If You Don’t Stand For Something, You’ll Fall For Anything’), are interesting inclusions here on the album as they originate from the band’s ill-fated John Feldmann produced ‘Garage Sessions’ from 2007 that were eventually scrapped. Despite the less than polished feel of the demos (Particularly on the vocal front), there’s an air of vibrancy in the recordings, with ‘If You Don’t Stand For Something, You’ll Fall For Anything’ a real stand out.
Elsewhere, there’s a demo version of ‘Another Shot’ (Which is somewhat interesting given its acoustic delivery, but otherwise unremarkable) and a remix of ‘Bring ‘Em Down’ from Bloc Party guitarist Russell Lissack (Which is actually pretty cool), before the album is concluded with the short and aggressive ‘Weapon’ (Which is also from the lost 2007 demo sessions).
As expected, ‘Weapons’ is essentially a mix of ‘Liberation Transmission’ and ‘The Betrayed’ both in terms of sound and consistency. What this means is that while some will be disappointed with the band’s lack of push towards something new and ground breaking, most will see this as another solid and likeable effort from a band that clearly want to maintain their existing fan base without straying too far from the sound they established many years ago.

For more information on Lostprophets, check out – http://www.lostprophets.com/

© Justin Donnelly