Album: The Betrayed
Genre: Alternative Rock
Producer: Stuart Richardson & Justin Hopfer
“The Betrayed” marks the return of the Lostprophets and is the band’s first new offering since 2006’s “Liberation Transmission.” Although the band had recorded an album’s worth of material in LA spending around $500,000, their dissatisfaction with those recordings led to the material being scrapped. And let me assure you, not many bands can pull that off without facing dire consequences, especially in this day and age. The very fact that folks at their record label stood by them even while they were busy burning a hole in their pockets highlights the position that the band has established in the alternative rock scene.
Instead of the usual go-for-the-jugular approach, the album starts off with the two minute introductory “If It Wasn’t For Hate, We’d Be Dead By Now.” Right at the outset, what catches the listener’s attention is that the drums have been kept up-front in the mix and this is a welcome change from the common practice of guitars dominating other instruments in the mix only to make the sound “heavier.” The aggressive “DSTRYR/DSTRYR” with it’s funk-metal a la Rage Against The Machine comes next and is an all-out rocker. We can find a juxtaposition of such angsty, adrenaline pumpers with songs that possess a more pop-influenced melodic edge (“Darkest Blue”) on every Lostprophets album. However, the presence of these pop sensibilities on a rock album has at times resulted in the purists depriving them of the credibility of a rock band. So, while Ian Watkins makes it clear on the album opener itself that the “uncool” tag that has been thrust upon them by the naysayers has only strengthened their resolve to stick around even longer (“If It Wasn’t For Hate, We’d Be Dead By None”), “DSTRYR/DSTRYR” seems more like him showing them the finger – “every time you think you’ve stopped us/we’ll rise up stronger from the dust/Turn around motherf**ker/coz we ain’t done.” It is this defiance that has fuelled the band’s musical rage all along and has helped them make some of their best music.
The next two songs – “It’s Not The End Of The World, But I Can See It From Here” and “Where We Belong” have “radio hits” written all over them. The U2-esque “Where We Belong,” especially runs the risk of sounding too radio-friendly and mainstream. Interludes were an important part of the band’s sound on the first two albums but went missing on “Liberation Transmission.” They make a return on “The Betrayed” and certainly add to the album’s overall cohesiveness. So, at the end of “Where We Belong,” just as we are expecting another brief interlude, the drums hit us right in the face. The stop-start screamo of “Next Stop, Atro City” highlights the brilliance of the young Ilan Rubin on drums. He was only twenty years old while recording this album and his powerful drumming literally drives the first half of the album. He is a genuine talent and has all the makings to be one of the best in years to come. No wonder he was invited by none other than the great Trent Reznor to join Nine Inch Nails soon after the recording of this album.
There is a change of gears with the ska-influenced “For He’s A Jolly Good Felon.” The song reflects the band’s diverse sound and their desire to cater to a varied fanbase. The choruses seem tailor-made for sing-along live performances, particularly on this track (along with “Streets of Nowhere”). And it is precisely on such songs, especially in the later half of the album that they sound a little contrived. Good thing that the somber “A Better Nothing,” undoubtedly the highlight of the set, in a way redeems them. With Ian Watkins’ vocals delivering brilliantly in the backdrop of synth-heavy textures that are blended seamlessly with slick yet soaring guitars, this song ranks among the band’s most passionate and genuine works. In keeping with the band’s practice of keeping the last song of their album different from the rest in terms of arrangements, “The Light That Shines Twice As Bright” traverses from a moody, melancholy and layered sound in the beginning to a synth-heavy rock sound towards the end (Depeche Mode comes to mind), all the while retaining it’s melodic core.
So while “The Betrayed” might not be a striking departure for the band as they never stray too far away from their core sound, yet it captures what made them so successful in the first place. With the new album being a synthesis of the sounds of both “Start Something” and the more mainstream “Liberation Transmission,” it would be quite interesting to watch out for what the band has to offer next. When the Lostprophets first burst onto the UK scene back in 2000, they were lumped in with the nu metal brigade. But then they devised their own unique sound that set them apart from the rest. And even now, the Lostprophets undoubtedly provide a welcome change in the alternative rock scene that is decaying with the generic Nickelbacks, the Daughtrys and the Hinders.
Download These: Next Stop Atro City, A Better Nothing, The Light That Shines Twice As Bright…