Review Summary: Just barely holding their heads above the water of mediocrity...
The icon of a phoenix is a fitting one for Lostprophets, as they have a nagging tendency to release good albums, fall into the ashes with terrible ones, and rise again. This has happened more than once in their career, with 2006's Liberation Transmission serving as a long, long fall from the balanced post-hardcore/pop-punk/alternative rock of their first two albums. Four years on from the great fall, 2010 saw The Betrayed, a symbol of their rising from the ashes back to something resembling their former glory. Two years from that and we arrive at now, at the beginning of another fall for Lostprophets with Weapons.
The Betrayed, all in all, was a culmination of everything Lostprophets had done. From the heavy to the balladesque, from pop-punk to post-hardcore, it covered everything. I'm sure many fans were expecting that an album following one like The Betrayed would be an experimental one - trying new styles instead of sticking to the same old formula. Not only does Weapons utterly and completely fail at trying new things, it actually features the least amount of experimentation one could plausibly imagine. It literally is just ten anthemic, pop-punk songs with minimal lyrical effort and no diversity whatsoever.
Right now, it may seem like 2.5 is much too good a rating for such a disappointing album, and on the surface, it is. However, if you take the album as ten separate tracks instead of one collective, certain tracks do stand out above others. Actually, the album is neatly and conveniently divided into three separate categories.
The Good - this covers the first four songs. Firstly, "Bring 'Em Down" is the shamelessly catchy first single and a good choice to introduce the album. As described by the band, it contains a riff "so huge and greasy Pantera would be proud of it". It is followed by the absolute standout, and basically the only song actually worthy of the band's Start Something-era, "We Bring An Arsenal", which sports an addictive group chorus and somewhat decent lyrics. Same goes for the next two tracks, "Another Shot" and "Jesus Walks", both being catchy and interesting but nothing life-changing. This concludes the good section of Weapons.
Next we have The Average - two tracks which basically serve as A Day to Remember-esque tributes to "remembing where you're from" and "standing for what you believe in", that sorta stuff. Nothing special, but still not entirely skippable, basically wraps it up for "A Song for Where I'm From" and "A Little Reminder That I'll Never Forget".
Finally, The Bad - four songs that don't really have any place on the album. Ranging from absolutely blow-your-brains-out-boring (as with "Can't Get Enough", Lostprophets' most disappointing closer, and the failed ballad "Somedays") to just skippably-mediocre, there is nothing in these last four tracks that can even touch the first four, which themselves barely hold a candle to the band's older material.
So there we have it. If you can pay some sort of compliment to the album, the five bonus tracks are fantastic and would have brought the album to a 3.5-4 if they had been on the regular edition. Also, it's hard to say the members of Lostprophets themselves perform badly here - all do their respective jobs well enough without ever becoming brilliant or more than mildly interesting at any point. It's really the songwriting, and a seeming allergy to experimentation, that brings Weapons down to the level that it occupies.
But hey, it's still better than Liberation Transmission.