Weapon (UK) – New Clear Power Review

I was an active metal listener for a good part of the NWoBHM era1 but it seems for every Saxon and Raven there were countless smaller UK acts that never reached the ears of folks on my side of the pond. Weapon (or Weapon UK) were one of those “could have been” tales of a band in the early 80s that wasn’t able to launch that defining debut album in time. They had a single and a demo floating around in 80-81 and had some buzz but ultimately called it a day, not to pick up the sword again until 2011. Since then they’ve released 2 full-lengths that completely sailed under my metal detector, and here comes album number three, New Clear Power (get it?). Unburdened with familiarity, I didn’t know if Weapon’s chosen style would fall closer to Iron Maiden or Saxon on the Great Bombast Scale ov Grandness. It turns out Weapon hit way closer to the latter stylistic touchstone, offering simple, direct, riff-driven rockers with a big emphasis on catchy refrains and hooks. Over the album’s tightly structured runtime, you get a series of short, no-nonsense hard rock-influenced songs that reek of the 80s while still offering some modicum of modernity. Weapon aren’t likely to become rivals with Satan for the best NWoBHM survivor, but what they offer is easy to appreciate.

These elder warriors seem to know what they’re about and waste no time kicking ass on opener “Drumbeats of War.” It’s all about those beefy, burly riffs and a strong sense of nostalgia, with the spirit of Saxon looming large over the song structure and stylistic choices. To my very pleasant surprise, things are kept pretty heavy as well thanks to crunching, munching leads that chew the scenery as founding vocalist Danny Hynes narrates with a very controlled but commanding vocal style. He reminds me of a young Peavy Wagner (Rage) mixed with Doctor Smoke’s Matt Tluchowski and lends an interesting character to the proceedings. The chorus is simple but memorable and it’s been ringing in my head all week. The hits keep coming on straight-up, uber slick cuts like “Take It or Leave It,” which is more aggressive, bordering on speed metal at times as it overflows with fist-pumping guitar work. “Electric Power” and “In For the Kill” use the same formula with good results and the album wheels into its midpoint in a flash.

At said midway point, you’re greeted with obligatory power ballad, “Live for Today,” which is quite solid if a bit too maudlin. From there it’s back to the quarry for more hard rockers like the Therapy?-esque “Remote Control” and the Ghost-meets-Saxon “Shoot You Down.” There are no bad songs and even their attempt at the already well-covered Russ Ballard chestnut “Riding With the Angels” is respectable.2 That being said, “Diamond Lil” is less essential than its companion selections, and “Remote Control” is dragged down somewhat by too much repetition of the chorus. At a very tight 41 minutes though, these are minor bumps on what is an enjoyable, easy breezy hard rocking album.

A good portion of the slick songsmithing that defines New Clear Power is no doubt attributable to Robert Majd of Captain Black Beard, who is credited as co-writer along with Danny Hynes. I’m a fan of CBB’s 2022 Neon Sunrise platter, which is 120% cheesy 80s retro radio rock in the same vein as The Night Flight Orchestra, and some of that radio pop influence bleeds over into Majd’s writing here. Aside from the solid writing, the big draw here is the guitar work, which appears to be done by a committee of guest stars including Steve Mann (MSG, Lionheart), Tino Troy (Praying Mantis) and several others. The riffs are universally punchy and in-your-face and the harmonies and solos are quite impressive at times, making the simple songs pop. Major props must be given to bassist Tony Forsythe for recording his parts while undergoing cancer treatments. Good luck and a speedy recovery to you, Tony!

While I doubt New Clear Power will get Weapon a ton of notoriety, I’m mildly impressed with it nonetheless. It’s the kind of catchy rock/metal album you could write off as too bare-bones and simplistic, but by the second spin, the songs grab your brain and refuse to let go. It got me intrigued enough to track down the older stuff and I’d definitely like to hear more from Weapon in the future. If nothing else, these gents show how a steadfast refusal to give up on your dreams can pay dividends, even if it takes decades. That’s just badass, folks.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 256 kbps mp3
Label: Pride & Joy
Websites: weapon-uk.com | facebook.com/weapon.uk
Releases Worldwide: May 19th, 2023

Show 2 footnotes

  1. Don’t come at me again over the lowercase o))), you fuckers.
  2. For superior versions, see Heretic and Samson.
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