It’s been four years since Weapon UK’s last album, the well-received Ghosts Of War and a fair bit of water has passed under the bridge since then. The departure of founding member and guitarist Jeff Summers from the band left Stockholm-based singer and main man Danny Hynes to put together a smorgasbord of Sweden’s swashbuckling finest, along with a couple of masterstroke choice guests in Praying Mantis’s Tino Troy and MSG’s Steve Mann to accompany himself and bass player Tony Forsythe for their brand new album New Clear Power.
Weapon – New Clear Power (Pride Of Joy)
Release Date: 19 May 2023
Words: Dave Bonney
On the writing side of things, Hynes has called upon his Danny Hynes Band cohort Robert Majd, also of Captain Blackbeard and Metalite, to collaborate on the majority of songs on the album.
Another change, and not before time, is the band name. Reverting back to their original moniker of Weapon minus the slightly irritating UK bit, forced upon them by those ghastly Death Metal Canadian imposters who registered the name and filed a copyright claim in 2012. Tellingly, Metallica’s James Hetfield still wears his battle jacket on stage with a Weapon patch emblazoned upon it, not Weapon-UK!
The band’s influence on Hetfield is well-documented. After all, he did (allegedly) ‘borrow’ the riff from the 1980 Weapon classic Set The Stage Alight for Hit The Lights from their debut album Kill ‘Em All three years later. This is something which even Ed Sheeran would have difficulty convincing a judge that plagiarism hadn’t reared its ugly head and that, in fact, the opening two-chord flourish and drum fills were actually just a mere coincidence.
Anyway, enough of 1980, this is 2023, and it’s time to press the play button.
The opening song on any rock/Metal album should hit you hard in the face, assaulting your eardrums whilst laughing in the face of tinnitus. A statement of intent for what’s to follow. That’s exactly what we have here.
Drumbeats Of War sends out that message loud and clear, opening with air raid sirens and missile strikes, harmonic guitar and drums before sharply turning into a full frontal attack. Cutting guitar from Oscar Bromwall and a battery of double kick drums from Magnus Ulfstedt, Danny Hynes sings the chorus over the magnificent cacophony of sound. This song is definitely a contender for live set opener.
Some of you may already be familiar with the next track, Take It Or Leave It, which the band have already released as an album precursor. It’s this song that has had me waiting eagerly with bated breath in anticipation of hearing the rest of the album.
This song literally left me looking like I’m catching flies with mouth wide open. Nothing short of furious with frantic riffage, this really is Metal for Muthas. My neck brace is on order! Tempered with melodic rhythms and harmonies that compliment Hynes’ voice which continues to mature like a fine wine, maybe a Petrus red which is described as being the best of the best, the undisputed heavyweight hero and a rare beast appealing to new and old alike. As the saying goes, if the hat fits, wear it, Danny!
We’re only two songs in, and it’s already apparent that this is a completely different beast from Ghosts Of War and its predecessor, the reunion album from 2014 Rising From The Ashes. Don’t get me wrong. Both are fine offerings. It just feels different, a different spark, so to speak.
Electric Power was actually released in 2021, possibly to coincide with the band’s appearance at the WinterStorm festival, if my memory serves me right. Starting out all Lizzy-esque until the thunderous double kick drums of Marcus Johansson punch in along with blistering guitar from Mano Lewys, before turning on its head with Maiden-like harmonies, there’s a bit of everything that’s good in this one.
In For The Kill isn’t the Budgie classic, but it does have a riff as deadly as its namesake. More than keeping up the tempo of the previous three tracks, this is another straight-ahead balls to the wall rocker.
There seems to be a common theme emerging already in the first four songs, with bludgeoning riffola being top of the agenda, capturing the essence of the NWOBHM era imprinted in bold all the way through them.
Live For Today takes it down more than a few notches, giving this listener a breather and a chance to scrape my face off the floor.
The album’s obligatory ballad opens with atmospheric keys courtesy of Steve Mann and acoustic guitar by Hakan Granat, contrasting nicely with lead guitar from Robert Majd, who absolutely nails a spine-tingling solo. As far as ballads go, this song more than holds its own amongst some gargantuan slabs of hard rock and Metal.
Remote Control was written by original bass player Baz Downes and has a riff straight outta 1980. More screeching fretwork from Bromwall and pounding drums by Ulfstedt lead this song into a crescendo ending, elevating it to its place as a highlight of the album and a fitting tribute to Downes, who passed away in 2020.
Hard Road and Diamond Lil are both fast-paced, hard-rocking paeans to the fairer sex, albeit for very different reasons. The former lamenting the hard road that keeps you apart, and the latter gem waxing lyrical about sweet sixteen Lil, straight from a convent to a Soho queen!
Shoot You Down opens up with the sound of a rifle being loaded, with a doomy, dirty, sweaty Sabbathy riff taking you back to the ’70s Birmingham Ironworks, where you can almost smell the furnaces. Slowing the pace slightly with a certain groove, the song finds its place perfectly as the penultimate track, with gunshots signalling the end, leading into the final track.
Riding With The Angels is, of course, a cover of the incomparable Russ Ballard song, though you may know it better by the sorely missed Samson from their Shock Tactics album or, indeed, Bruce Dickinson’s solo project on Tattooed Millionaire.
More in keeping with the original, if only for the vocals not being of the air raid siren wailing of the Iron Maiden frontman, it’s a fine rendition to end the album with sterling axe work from Tino Troy and drums from Darren Lee.
New Clear Power is a clever play on words which describes the fury that’s just been unleashed during the last forty minutes perfectly. This album is a solid 9/10 and walks side by side effortlessly with legends, though standing on its own two feet with a distinctively modern swagger, impressively keeping it true to the band’s NWOBHM roots.
With Metallica seemingly making a conscious decision to go back to their roots with new album 72 Seasons, there’s plenty on offer here should James Hetfield wish to ‘borrow’ something else for the next album.
A special mention must go to the band’s Lord of the low end and keeper of the groove, bass player Tony Forsythe who recorded all his parts remotely whilst fighting the beast that is cancer.
I, along with everyone else here at MetalTalk, would like to send our best wishes to Tony in his continued fight to overcome this.