Lostprophets, The Betrayed


The three year wait for this moment has been agonising. But Lostprophets seem to have this fairly justified after scrapping half a million worth of material, leaving record labels, producing and recording themselves, not to mention babies popping out here, there and everywhere. So it may have passed its due date, but the long awaited fourth album was finally born in the UK on 18th January 2010. Name: The Betrayed, weight: heavy, size: COLLOSAL. When questioned about their progression in the studio, the band explained that their new sound was going to be much darker and grittier than previous efforts. This unnerved me slightly as although I love the tough, progressive rock sounds of the first two albums, I also equally love the more mature, mellow sounds of Liberation Transmission. They received a lot of stick from fans and critics for that record but I do genuinely believe that elements of it are musically and lyrically some of their best work to date. However, that date was before my ears were introduced to The Betrayed. With this album, they have to my delight, successfully created an adept balance between all three previous albums. It’s almost as if it’s a fusion of them all, but significantly improved with a pinch of something new.

‘If It Wasn’t For Hate, We’d Be Dead By Now’ is the perfect opening track. Dominated by powerful guitar riffs, heavy drums and fiery lyrics to match, this song shows Ian Watkins getting everything of his chest right at the beginning. The most audibly and lyrically sinister tracks on the album are ‘Destryr Destryr’ and ‘Next Stop Atro City’. They both comprise of powerful choruses, screaming vocals and expletive lyrics. ‘Destyr Destryr’ in particular is full of provoked threat and vengeance: ‘I’ll load the truth and cock the lever, and then I’ll take my aim towards your fucking leaders’. It is comforting to see that they have captured the quality of their earlier sound and shown off their ingenuity instrumentally with more distinct guitar riffs, similar to those heard in ‘Awkward’ and ‘We Are Godzilla, You Are Japan’.Their trademark big choruses also feature heavily throughout, most notably in ‘Where We Belong’; a song revelling in poise and dignity. It is definitely the most uplifting song on the record and I can see it becoming a crowd favourite. ‘It’s Not The End Of The World, But I Can See It From Here’ really shows Lostprophets in their element: big hook, infectious chorus and heavy guitars. It is a winner from the beginning. ‘For He’s A Jolly Good Felon’ is very reminiscent of songs on Liberation Transmission and it helps balance out the disposition of the record. ‘Darkest Blue’, although still conforming to the dark theme of the lyrics, has a resonance that is somewhat heartening. It demonstrates the bands’ versatility, proving that they can produce a mega mid-tempo power ballad equally as well as a fast, heavy number. The more I listen to this song, the more it grows on me. I can see it quickly becoming one of my favourite songs on the album.

The Betrayed definitely satisfies by delivering the band’s renowned sound but it doesn’t fail to offer something new. ‘Streets Of Nowhere’ see the band going for a more cheery, pop approach (which sounds hugely ironic when you consider the lyrical content). The melody slightly reminds me of some material by bands like Jet and The Strokes. The beginning of ‘A Better Nothing’ is also a different style for the band but it really seems to suit them. The song then proceeds into a mammoth chorus and soon has Lostprophets written all over it. ‘Dirty Little Heart’ is probably the weakest track if there had to be one. It’s not a bad song, it just seems to lack the ‘oomphf’ that all the other songs posses. The album is concluded by ‘The Light That Shines Twice As Bright’, a poignant tale of emotional anguish: ‘You took apart my soul, I’ll never feel this way again’. It strikes me as being the freshest song on the album, simply because it different from anything they have ever done before. The gripping, climatic finale concludes the album perfectly, leaving the listener with one last thought ‘This is how it feels’.

After listening to every song, I can see that they definitely weren’t exaggerating when they said this album was going to be dark. Everything from the name, artwork, song titles and lyrics present some kind of philosophical dreariness. Stereotypically, for a rock band to lean this way isn’t exactly unexpected, but saying that I definitely think this is going to play a huge role in making this album a success; even if it does compel you into a great depression. The lyrics are simply brutal and honest and this makes the album so much more meaningful. The band have clearly been very ambitious with this album and this time no one has dared to stop them. I just hope it rubs off within our ever inequitable and manipulated mainstream; after 12 years, they deserve it.


Kings of Leon, Only By The Night


Three brothers and a cousin, sons of a preacher, raised in a deeply religious Christian family are probably not the most likely of people to have indulged in sex, drugs and rock n’ roll, but this band certainly have. Back with a brand new album, new sound and new objectives, the finest thing to come out of Tennessee since Jack Daniels, are about to take on the world.

The Followill clan certainly gave the world a lot to talk about throughout 2008. It seems as if what were once an understated rock n’ roll band from the remote countryside of Nashville, Tennessee, have unquestionably become one of the biggest rock acts of the decade. Whoever wants to question that only has to look at the facts: their fourth album ‘Only by the Night’ went straight to number 1 in the U.K, Ireland and Australia and has stayed in the charts since its release in September. Earlier this year, they sold out London’s O2 arena in four minutes, quicker than the mighty Led Zeppelin. Last summer they graced the stage of three major U.K festivals, treating us to a particularly remarkable headline performance at Glastonbury.

The U.K has been number one fans of the Kings since the very beginning, but their native land has not been as easy to please. In the States, their previous albums charted at a measly 113, 55 and 23 respectively. Its seems like they’ll have to be overshadowed by Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers for a little while longer, just until they realise they inhabit one of the world’s future greatest bands. ‘Only By The Night’ did however make a swift appearance at number 5 in the American chart, so it seems like they are, finally receiving some of the recognition they have been longing for.

‘Only by the Night’ is arguably their best masterpiece to date. According to vocalist Caleb, most of the songs were written whilst he was on pain medication after undergoing shoulder surgery. This has clearly had an influence on the lyrics as there is almost a hallucinatory feel, particularly with the mythical essence of ‘Closer’. The metaphorical trilogy is a powerful opener, probably the best thing they’ve ever done. The epic power of ‘Crawl’, a song distorted by a strong bass; offers a comfortable juxtaposition to its lyrically political meaning. The sensual chorus and self-explanatory lyrics of ‘Sex on Fire’ hints that this will be a definite crowd favourite. The immensity is balanced effectively with beautiful power ballad ‘Use Somebody’, a tale of loneliness and anguish. ‘Manhattan’ is probably the most similar to their previous work, audibly illustrating a resemblance to ‘Arizona’ from 2007’s ‘Because of the Times’. ‘Be somebody’ is carried by hard drum beats and passionate ‘in your face’ lyrics but then slightly disappoints with the chorus. This is later redeemed however with the heavy melodic ending. ‘17’, ambiguously a story of having to leave a young lover, starts well until bells and chimes kick in; from then on it could almost be mistaken for a Christmas carol. ‘Cold Desert’, is a poignant, sorrowful fable, beautifully structured with Caleb’s raw wail and brutal emotion: “Jesus don’t love me, no-one ever carried my load”. It’s a suitable conclusive track for a well-written, compelling album. In an interview on the band’s website, Caleb states that he was “very drunk” when they recorded the song. But whilst listening to it the next day (after having no recollection of it) he explains how he “almost cried”. It was then chosen for the album, and the original vocals were never re-touched to ensure the pure honesty of that moment was captured. It’s a shame that they will never recreate their original, raw, southern rock ‘n roll sound from their debut, but this album is in a different league and certainly has all the right ingredients to make it an instant stadium success. However, something tells me that we still haven’t seen the best of them yet. But for now, the Kings can at last, deservingly claim their crowns.




Love at first sight.

(source: topshop)
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