Welsh anarchists Lostprophets inadvertently earned themselves the detrimental “emo” tag with their last album but have returned this year to rectify their image. After three gruelling years of touring, recording, line-up and label shifts the quintet has finally readied a visionary fourth release in The Betrayed.
From space-age segues between tracks to apocalyptic atmospherics, the diligence in its craft is unmistakable. After all, they scrapped six figures worth of recordings in LA in order to start from scratch back on their native soil. But was it all worth it?
Well, yes and no. The mishmash of tracks indicates an honest effort to consolidate both fans of their earlier nu-metal stylings and followers of more recent, accessible ventures. The nuclear sledgehammer drumming of “Next Stop Atro City” contains deathly throat-shredding unheard since their beginnings while the acid-thrash of “Dstryer/Dstryer” sounds like the liquidised lovechild of Rage Against The Machine and The Prodigy. Both should delight long term fans and trigger atomic mosh-pits at the festivals.
On the other side of the coin we have a hoard of desultory terrace-bound anthems complete with battle cry chant-a-longs, each of which sounds as uninspired as the last. Lostprophets have a gift for churning out melodic colossus’ effortlessly and the trudge through the latter half of the album sees them in complete autopilot mode. Sure, daytime radio welcomes these harmless ditties with open arms, but even casual listeners could spot the ‘Prophets going through the motions in many tracks here, not least “A Better Nothing” and “Streets Of Nowhere”. This is the biggest problem facing them, truly living up to their name in not knowing “where they belong”, ironically a song about which is included on the album.
Lost Prophets, ‘It’s not the end of the World’
Caught in the crossfire of drive-time friendly alternative and tortured Refused-inspired hardcore, the middle ground they’ve settled for doesn’t seem satisfactory. While smearing off the phony American posturing of Liberation Transmission may win them back a portion of their early day fans, it’s difficult to see where the ‘Prophets can go from here. They run the risk of drowning amongst the legion of forgotten radio-rock generics unless frontman Ian Watkins utilises his keen ear for melody in the right way. Lead single “It’s Not The End Of The World But I Can See It From Here” evidences what Lostprophets are capable of when the elements are combined correctly. Stadium-sized choruses, crushing riffs, rhythmic avenues rivalling Biffy Clyro and a breakdown that could annihilate any time signature. They’ve earned a vast army of followers worldwide of their many different sounds and while this is guaranteed to be a storming success live and commercially, I’d hope Lostprophets continue down the more original paths explored here on future releases.