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Weapon (British Metal): Set the Stage Alight *

Album Notes

Even as rock & roll prepares to join other, once-mainstream music genres like jazz and blues in the secondary consumer market, technology, and inveterate cult-dom guarantee that its vaults continue to spew forth all manner of overlooked sonic gems and unreleased material by long-forgotten groups. Which matters little to the vast majority of casual music fans intent on snuffing Elvis' legacy into oblivion, but means the world to geek collectors everywhere. The latter, and only a small portion of the latter, at that, will be the ones eager to get their hands on this particular release: a 2003 debut album from fourth-division New Wave of British Heavy Metal band called Weapon that was some 22 years in the making. Named after the band's best-known (heretofore pretty much only-known) song, Set the Stage Alight assembles 12 full tracks recorded by the quartet between 1980-'81; their general style not overly dependent on Black Sabbath's linear power chord grind, nor even so much Judas Priest's more energetic renditions of the same, but rather the heavy '70s rock of UFO and Motörhead, as well as contemporaries like Fist, Demon, or Saxon. In common with the last three, and unlike so many N.W.O.B.H.M. competitors, Weapon could really play their instruments, and the results are instantly felt in the pummeling proto-thrash of the title track, the anthemic mid-paced quality of "Liar" and "Take That Bottle," and even during forays into less challenging, potential singles territory like the big choruses of "Mad Mad World" and "Midnight Satisfaction." Inaugurating the LP's noticeably inferior second half, both "Bad Love" and the uncharacteristic ballad attempt "Olivia" don't sound anywhere close to finished, which is ironic given the noted improvements and surprising clarity displayed by the four demos closing out the set. As for the overall recording quality, it isn't exactly top-notch or what you'd call consistent (the solo in "One Night Stand" is actually barely audible), but then there's no attempt here to disguise these tunes' humble (and ancient) origins; and furthermore, there's hardly a need to, considering their nostalgia-driven unearthing in the first place. And by those most pertinent standards, Set the Stage Alight fulfills its mission and out-does many similar collections of period rarities that have been released by more prominent labels. ~ Eduardo Rivadavia


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