If you’re anything like me, the realization that it’s been over a decade since the release of Lostprophets’ debut will make you feel old. Given the amount of time the band has been around they don’t appear to have “grown up” in the way that a lot of bands do (they do still sell t-shirts bearing the slogan “Mega Lolz” after all). Whether this is a good thing, in that they haven’t forgotten their origins, or a bad thing, in that they haven’t really developed, remains under scrutiny.
‘Weapons’ does a fine job of showing that Lostprophets’ have the ability to write catchy pop-rock songs, although anyone who has heard any of the band’s older material already knew this. Lead single ‘Bring ‘Em Down’ utilizes meaty guitar riffs and breakdowns with expert precision, mixing them with Enter Shikari-esque electronic sections that add a touch of modernity, to make it the most interesting of all the songs on the album. The crunchy guitar tones and vocal melodies all throughout the album (and particularly on “A Song From Where I’m From”) are spot-on for this genre, moving effortlessly from chugging verses to powerful half-time choruses with the leadership of solid, no-frills-necessary drum parts. However, although these techniques are well executed, they are used in the same cookie-cutter way on many of the songs, meaning that while none of the songs are categorically “bad”, very few of them stand out as being anything exceptional.
Where vocalist Ian Watkins’ lyrics could have helped lift the musically reliable songs into something special, they sadly fall short of the mark. The overabundance of analogies related to weapons and fighting, which no doubt inspired the album name, are highly clichéd and by the time the listener gets from “Your tongue is a gun and your brain is the trigger” in second song ‘We Bring an Arsenal’ and “The guns, the armor, the gossip, the drama” in ‘Better Off Dead’ they’ll likely feel, well, bored.
Similarly, war-cry style lyrics, such as “Sing it out, bring it down,” (‘Bring ‘Em Down’) are overly relied upon to stir up a pseudo-emotional atmosphere in the songs. This tween-friendly theme of overcoming adversity through singing has been done to death (most recently on My Chemical Romance’s imaginatively titled ‘Sing’), and so hardly makes the affecting impact it was no doubt designed to. By all means, Watkins should feel free to use lines like “I sing revolution while you’re trying to silence me” (‘Better Off Dead’) but he should know that no one would be trying to silence him if what he wasn’t spouting such meaningless rubbish; his words are, after all, far from revolutionary.
On the whole this most recent effort is generally formulaic, and although there are a few nice flourishes here and there, it never elevates itself into something extraordinary, and ends up shooting more blanks than bullets. Hannah Watts