With American bands outnumbering British by at least 10 to one, to find a band going strong is a rarity. Lostprophets stand on the brink of British-ness – fiercely Welsh in everything they do – but the consistency shown in latest effort, Weapons, deserves praise worthy of Her Majesty.
The spirit of the album is one of rebellion, and builds on the seeds sewn by songs like ‘Everyday Combat’ in previous work Liberation Transmission to reach a climax of defiance.
The message of opener ‘Bring it Down’ is clear, a call to arms to keep fighting despite the odds, and this could well be the motto of the band itself. Things haven’t come easy for Lostprohets, they’ve had to work hard to stay close to the top for the past decade – since winning Best British Newcomer back in 2001. Despite an impressive number of stand-out tracks to their name, the band have never really taken off in the same way that heavyweights like Muse or The Strokes have, nor have they seen any chart success.
You get the impression that the band don’t really care though. They aren’t interested in fame and fortune, but the fun and games of being on the road and making music.
What has changed though, is the band’s attitude to their home town – Pontypridd in Wales – which was once “a town called hypocrisy” but now leading man Ian Watkins concedes that it “still feels like home” in ‘A Song for Where I’m From’.
The album takes the best aspects of the band’s sound and builds on them. Stand-out ‘Jesus Walks’ – surely a shoo-in for the next single – riffs on the underrated ‘Where We Belong’ from 2010’s The Betrayed, while the band’s catchiness this time around is played out in a more gang-vocal style in the anthemic ‘We Bring an Arsenal’.
Those who may have heard advance single ‘Better of Dead’ shouldn’t be put off by its bizarre rap-inspired verse. Despite being seemingly out of character for the band it fits in well with the context of the album, and is more of an experiment than a new direction. In all the musical direction is doing what the band do best rather than trying to re-invent themselves.
The energy and passion doesn’t let up from start to finish, making it an album ideal for live shows, and with no screamo-esque tracks in residence it means the entire album feels less rough around the edges. The sombre side is shown through reflective, semi-acoustic number ‘Somedays’, hinting at the depth the band can reach when they take a moment to catch their breath.
There is plenty of inspiration drawn in from American post-hardcore rockers Rise Against on this album, particularly the line taken as the theme for the album: “I’d rather die on my feet than ever live on my knees.” In fact the line appears in Rise Against’s last album Endgame in the song ‘Survivor Guilt’, which talks about the destruction of great empires. Not quite over the line of anarchism though, Lostprophets are happy to make a stand for themselves rather than ‘getting political’ about proceedings.
Weapons then is Lostprophets battle cry, stating load and clear they aren’t going away quietly without a fight, and even with so much quality through their back catalogue, this album manages to be their most consistently high quality offering yet. Long may the ‘prophets prosper.
James Michael Parry