Listening to Weapons, the fifth album by Welsh post-hardcore superstars Lostprophets, it’s hard to shake the image of a band in decline. Oddly, rather than exhibiting a notable deterioration in quality, the former Download headliners appear to have succumbed to a sonic paralysis; their returns diminished by an unshakably indistinct aura. The four years between their pop peak Liberty Transmission and their lukewarm 2010 comeback The Betrayal saw momentum squandered and excitement turn to apathy.
To their credit, Ian Watkins and the Lostprophets appear keenly aware of this perception. On "Bring ‘Em Down" they warn that they are not to be overlooked, that they’ve been written off before, and that they’ll eventually triumph. While Watkins’s words lack a sense of venom and urgency they are delivered with plenty of swagger and at a tub-thumping pace. The wannabe mariachi football chant "We Bring An Arsenal" is less convincing, but it’s slamming guitars and memorable chorus should win over teens, even if the words "If You Think We’re Done, We’ll Bring It, We’ll Bring It" seem sadly hollow.
Part of the problem with this brisk and largely enjoyable ten-track onslaught is the band’s jarring lack of character. Lostprophets jump from one voice to the next, recalling a myriad of post-hardcore stalwarts from My Chemical Romance and Panic At The Disco to Rise Against and Glassjaw, without offering a single endearing character quirk. Lacking the unmistakable energy and hit making flair that punctuated Thefakesoundofprogress (2000) and Start Something (2004), the Lostprophets’ placeless American veneer feels lightweight. The lifeless ballad "Somedays" is the worst offender, mixing a wholly unremarkable arrangement with a set of lyrics so tepidly optimistic they’d make greeting card company executives wretch.
Pontypridd’s finest eschew the chance to assert a sense of identity on "A Song From Where I’m From" as they opt for tired clichés and platitudes over any kind of regional or emotional insight. "Better Off Dead" is far better. Propelled by an irresistible fist-pumping chorus ("I Sing Revolution While Your Trying To Silence Me") you can forgive Ian Watkins a typically corny nu-metal verse because, for the first time, he sounds genuinely enthused, albeit sadly not incensed.
If Weapons proves anything it’s that Lostprophets know how to make a bombastic and undeniably catchy post-hardcore record. Sadly, it also suggests that having spent 12 years honing their craft the Welsh rockers are no closer to uncovering a dynamic sense of personality, let alone place or purpose; as Weapons leaves precious little room for complaint, and none for excitement.
Buy If: You fancy some catchy and polished post-hardcore to brighten up your angst ridden day.
Skip If: Your looking for innovation, excitement, and an original voice.
Best Song: "Better Off Dead"
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