Weapon UK is a four-piece NWOBHM (New Wave of British Heavy Metal) band originally formed as 'Weapon' in London in 1980. While on tour supporting Motörhead the band recorded their debut album Set the World Alight but unfortunately due to contractual problems they were forced to split up before it was released. It was eventually unleashed upon the world in 2003. After a number of line-up changes, several reunion shows, and adding 'UK' to their name due to a legal dispute, the band finally released their second album, the aptly named Rising From The Ashes, in 2014. Following the 35th anniversary release of their debut in 2016, this year marks the unveiling of their third studio effort Ghosts of War.
From the title track opener it is immediately obvious why 'Fast Eddie' Clarke was impressed enough to invite the band to open for Motörhead all those years ago. “Ghosts of War” blows your head off right from the start and does not relent until the melodic bridge featuring guest vocals by ex-Thundermother singer Clare Cunningham. Throughout the track I can hear elements of 80's Judas Priest and early Diamond Head, not surprising considering Weapon UK were right up there amongst the best of them back in the day. “Queen of the Ride” on the other hand has a more bluesy feel and the riffs are underpinned by Darren Lee's suitably groovy drumbeats. Vocally the track is somewhat reminiscent of 70's Rainbow, fronted by the late Ronnie James Dio of course.
Next track “Redman” starts off as a ballad backed by clean guitars but with the addition of Tony Forsythe's beefy bass line the song soon transitions into classic metal aggression. The vocal melodies present in this one are a testament to the range of vocalist Danny Hynes, a mainstay of the band since their inception. “Sea of Hope” opens with an exotic sounding guitar riff but builds into a much darker affair brimming with menace. The backing vocals are superb and the lead guitar work is simply stunning.
“Emerald God” has 'NWOBHM classic' written all over it, right down to the pounding bass triplets and groove-laden guitar riff akin to Black Sabbath's “Heaven and Hell” and Rainbow's “Stargazer” respectively. This a particular stand out track for me and will be sure to sit well with any traditional heavy metal fan. Despite having a slightly more modern sound in places “Tournique” is still heavily steeped in the old-school. The chorus is especially crying out for a real sing along. By contrast “All I Need” once again ventures into more blues territory before bringing in the hard rock. Again there is a very catchy chorus and some impressive solos courtesy of co-founding original guitarist Jeff Summers.
As you would expect from a title like “Hell on Earth”, this penultimate track has a real heavy riff that you can't help but head bang to. I am instantly reminded of classic bands like Manowar and Quiet Riot. And finally“'79 Revisited” is bookended by brief audio samples that set the mood for a song that is quite obviously a retrospective look at the band's history. A final hurrah to bang your head, sing along and raise your glass to.
But wait there's more! After the main batch of songs, Ghosts of War ends with two bonus tracks. “Set the World Alight” is a 2017 re-recording of the title track from the bands debut with an intro that sounds remarkably similar to Metallica's “Hit the Lights” only written three years earlier. I think it is safe to where Metallica got their influence from. And finally “G.O.W. Reprise”, as the name suggests, is a reprise of the title track from the beginning of the album that brings it to a satisfying conclusion.
Ghosts of War is everything NWOBHM should be and more. From start to finish we have chugging riffs, thundering bass lines and more vocal melodies than you can shake a heavy metal stick at. There are plenty of bands out there that are influenced by NWOBHM and traditional heavy metal tones, and quite rightly so. This album shows that the legacy of the sub-genre lives on and that Weapon UK can still rock as loud and as hard as ever.
Ghosts of War is out now.
Check out the band's Facebook page, and their earlier works on Spotify at the links below: