LOST PROPHETS

"Start Something"

Columbia

EIGHTEEN VISIONS

"Obsession"

Red Ink/Trustkill/Sony

As always, life is frustrating in Youngadultland. "It's no good/So burn it down," commands "Burn, Burn," one of the catchier numbers on "Start Something," Lost Prophets' second American release. Yet if the Welsh sextet's attitude hasn't brightened since its debut, its music has. The chugging heavy-rock guitars of the opening "We Still Kill the Old Way" soon yield to a catchy bridge and an ascending chorus, a transition that's characteristic of the album.

Recorded in L.A. with Good Charlotte producer Eric Valentine -- and two members of that pop-punk band on backup vocals -- "Start Something" includes some death-metal growls and rap-metal turntablism. Refrain for refrain, however, such new Prophets songs as "Last Train Home" are more consistently tuneful than the music of Linkin Park, today's ruling metal-goes-emo outfit. Having bolstered its melodies, the band might now consider amplifying its personality. Lost Prophets may be the best-selling Welsh act in the United States since Tom Jones, but it has achieved that success by emulating its stateside models a little too closely.

Any metalheads concerned that Lost Prophets have gone soft need look no further than one of the band's current opening acts, Eighteen Visions. The Southern California band's new "Obsession" does have a few mellow moments: Tone down the guitars under the chorus of "I Should Tell You," and the song would be a mainstream power ballad. Yet most of the songs highlight crashing guitars, guttural vocals and references to horrors, nightmares and, of course, obsessions. Still, the band's lyrics don't encompass the sort of horror-flick visions common in death-metal. It's troubled romance that agitates such angry tunes as "Tower of Snakes," so maybe Eighteen Visions also is a little soft.

-- Mark Jenkins

Appearing Thursday at the 9:30 club with Midtown. * To hear a free Sound Bite from Lost Prophets, call Post-Haste at 301-313-2200 and press 8105; to hear Eighteen Visions, press 8106. (Prince William residents, call 703-690-4110.)