Raw and Aggressive: Weaponizer Is 'What Metal Should Be'

Courtesy Weaponizer
Armed to the teeth, Denver speed-metal band Weaponizer is ready to take on 2023.
The Denver speed-metal freaks in Weaponizer are on the prowl again. The underground band hasn't put out a proper album since 2017’s Lawless Age, but that’s going to change this year, promises guitarist Justin Kelly.

“We have pretty much a whole album that’s just sitting on the shelf right now,” he says, adding that many of the songs were created during the pandemic.

“It’s been so long now, we’ve changed the songs since then. Certain people have reservations about how they played or what they did on certain parts. We’re trying to re-evaluate that," Kelly notes. "Nobody wants to re-record the whole album, but there are little things here and there that we’re not fully satisfied with. We’re hoping that we can salvage that and just get it out. It’s pretty much a continuation of Lawless Age. There’s a little bit of heavier stuff; some is more of a throwback to early heavy metal. But it’s pretty well aligned with the last two releases.”

The filth hounds are also hitting the stage more, including a gig on Saturday, February 18, at the hi-dive with Cloud Catcher, Vexing and NightWraith. The show will also be a bit of a birthday bash for Cloud Catcher guitarist and singer Rory Rummings, according to Kelly.

Weaponizer formed in 2009 and has since followed in the footsteps of heavy-metal forefathers such as Motörhead, Venom and Tank. The band's speed metal is a mix of hard rock, early black metal and the new wave of British heavy metal. It's more of an attitude than a well-defined musical style — and the dirtier, the better.

Take the Wax Trax promo blurb for Lawless Age, for example: “While one can recognize a variety of metallic sub-genre tags in the band’s sound, from raw black metal to post-apocalyptic thrash to Aussie war-metal to anarchic crossover, it’s all menacingly welded into an indestructible shining alloy of slashing American steel."

Kelly chuckles a little at the “Aussie war-metal” tag, but he’ll take it. Speed metal is more old-school-sounding than anything, not over-produced or streamlined through numerous studio takes. Bands in the genre just press “record” and belt it out loud and proud.

“The way I look at this metal is it’s an old-fashioned genre, so when people listen to that, they want to hear that old sound and style. They don’t want to be knocked over the head with computerized drums and things like that,” Kelly explains. “An analogy would be rockabilly. You don’t have to add sampled drums to that and breakdowns. If you go to a rockabilly show, you want to dance and get into it and see some dude with a giant-ass fucking semi-hollow guitar, not a B.C. Rich. We try to be respectful to the genre and the sound without being boring. It’s kind of a balance.”

Kelly, vocalist/bassist Jorden Rex, drummer Michael Wayne O'Connor and guitarist Peter Slivkanch just look like a rough bunch, particularly in their band photos, all clad in leather and bullet belts while wielding various semi-automatic weapons. What you see is what you get — or, maybe more important, what you hear on the album is what you’ll get live.

“It’s like, ‘I’m listening right now to a rock band in a room and I’m going to see them live, and it’s going to be that rock band in a room.’ It’s not some computerized production. There’s not going to be a strings section added in to make parts cooler,” Kelly says. “It’s easy to take the bait and go that route, but I like to keep things rawer.”

As a result, Weaponizer's output is more interesting than what most modern metal bands are doing.

“When you start working in the studio and trying to get parts right, things just get more and more polished. It becomes more sterile and proggy-metal or computerized. I definitely prefer things that are a lot grittier,” Kelly says.

“Going back to early rock and roll, early heavy metal — a lot of that stuff was accidental, but that’s what’s exciting to me, just the aggressiveness and rawness of it. I think that’s what metal should be," he concludes. "We don’t necessarily try to make things sound that way; we just try to retain it from the beginning and not over-polish it.”

Weaponizer, 8:30 p.m. Saturday, February 18, hi-dive, 7 South Broadway. Tickets are $12-$15.