With more than a decade of recording under their belts, Welsh-based Lostprophets have carved out their own niche in the legion of hard rock bands. They found some success in the middle of the last decade with singles “Last Train Home” and “Rooftops (A Liberation Broadcast)” and hung around long enough to put out their fifth studio album, Weapons. With this new release, the sextet forgoes expanding any of their musical boundaries and instead focuses on what has worked in the past. The result of this playing-it-safe routine is an inoffensive collection of tracks that fails to leave any lasting impression on the listener.
It is not that Weapons fails to accomplish its goal, which is to reward the loyal fans Lostprophets have cultivated over the last four albums. The band is a known commodity, and those who are familiar with and enjoy the band’s sound will find the record in line with their previous offerings. Rather, the album fails to accomplish anything new. It comes across as nu metal paint by numbers, complete with the cascading guitars, wailing vocals and over-the-top seriousness that currently abounds on the radio. Even on songs like “We Bring an Arsenal”, which opens with a chant worthy of a soccer match, the band quickly reverts to polished rock that is comfortable rather than exciting. Other songs, like “Can’t Get Enough” and “A Little Reminder That I’ll Never Forget” play out in the familiar pattern, complete with slow-burning openings that eventually reach a crescendo of noise.
The genre has never been known to produce to most lyrically thought-provoking music and Lostprophets make no effort to dispel that stereotype. The band approaches every song having suffered a vague injustice, and the only resolution is to dust off and prepare for battle. Lead singer Ian Watkins attempts to provide a level of gravitas to the vocals, but can’t overcome songs like “Better Off Dead” (“Adversity has become part of my destiny / I’d rather die on my feet / Than ever live on my knees”) or “Jesus Walks” (“They tell you Jesus walks but baby he’ll just walk away / No matter what you do you’re gonna have to fight someday”). Perhaps the worst transgression of all, however, is the way the tracks just cannot deliver anything that will stay with you once they’ve ended. While the album is loud and fast, the failure to take chances means the songs slowly begin to bleed into one another. What’s left is the musical equivalent of snowflakes, tracks with slight variations that melt away and are forgotten as soon as the next one appears.
Lostprophets has survived in music by understanding what their fans like and catering to them, but with Weapons, the band is firmly entrenched in their comfort zone. While that might excite long-time fans of the band, it provides little to those looking for innovation or excitement out of the genre.
- Multiple songs NME website
// Notes from the Road
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