If you like AOR and / or melodic rock, then James Christian is a reliable guy. If you see his name on any record out there then you can rest assured that it is a quality product. The only times he has ever put out anything less than good was with his mediocre 2004 second solo album Meet The Man and the shitty House Of Lords reunion album The Power And The Myth, ironically also from 2004 – not the best year in Christian’s life musically. Those two albums aside, every album that bears his name stands for high quality, be it his solo stuff or with his band House Of Lords. Once upon a time, House Of Lords were keyboard wizard Gregg Giuffria’s band – in fact, House Of Lords were really just Gregg’s own band Giuffria with a new name and a new singer (the old one was the brilliant David Glen Eisley). After three fantastic melodic hard rock albums, House Of Lords called it a day back in 1993 after chart success was a no-show for any of the albums. Christian continued with a killer solo album, Rude Awakening in 1995, but it would take almost 10 years for a sign of life from Christian to show, when he released his second solo album and also giving the House Of Lords reunion a go featuring all the original members of the band – Lanny Cordola (guitar), Chuck Wright (bass) and Ken Mary (drums) – except Gregg Giuffria (ex- Angel) himself. The reunion was a disaster, however and the band split more or less directly after the disappointing album was released. But with Giuffria’s blessing, James Christian resurrected House Of Lords with a completely new line-up in 2006 and has since then released four albums under the House Of Lords moniker, this new one being album # 5.
Where all of House Of Lords albums have been really good, some more than others, only the brilliant Come To My Kingdom (2008) has been up there with the three first albums. But with James Christian’s killer solo album from last year , Lay It All On Me in fresh memory, I was really hoping that the band – that consists of guitarist Jimi Bell, drummer B.J. Zampa, bassist Chris MacCarvil and Christian’s song writing partner and keyboard player Jeff Kent – would come up with a monster of an album once more. I was really pleased with 2011’s Big Money but I was still hoping that this album would step up one step. The first thing I ever heard from this album was the first single, “Battle”, which video I watched. And damn, what a great tune. It so happens that “Battle” is also the opening track off the album and they couldn’t have chosen a better opener. This time, the band has let the guitars come up really high in the mix and it suits them well. The song is heavy and it’s more influenced by 70’s hard rock than 80’s. I actually get a Ritchie Blackmore vibe here. “I’m Breakin’ Free” keeps up the good work – a great hard rocker, “Epic” is fantastic, catchy as hell but still pretty heavy AOR. It also contains a killer guitar solo from Bell. “Live Every day (Like It’s Your Last)” is a bit slower and ballad-like with melodies that sticks like glue – awesome! The title track of any hard rock album is usually one of the harder tracks and especially when the title track is called “Precious Metal”, I’m thinking “a hard rocker”. But nope, this here title track is a ballad – and a damn fine one too. It is based on acoustic guitars, but this is a grand ballad, pretty heavy – classic House Of Lords style. “Swimmin’ With The Sharks” is melodic hard rock at its best and it’s a pretty rough one. Every James Christian or House Of Lords album contains a duet with his missus, the gorgeous and big voiced Robin Beck – just like every Beck album contains a duet with Christian, and this album is no exception. On this album, the duet is called “Enemy Mine” and is, as always, a ballad. Yes, the song is great, but in all honesty, this whole Mr & Mrs Duet thing is getting a bit overkill now. “Turn Back The Tide” is an amazing, heavy melodic rock song with a big pop feel but completely without the cheese and closer “You Might Just Save My Life” is catchy, groovy, riff happy with great melodies – a terrific way to end a brilliant album.
This is the way I want House Of Lords to sound. The killer songs aside, I love it when AOR and melodic rock bands cranks up the guitars and makes the drums sound really big and in your face, when the whole sound is permeated with heaviness and when you dare to think outside the AOR box here and there. James Christian has always been a stunning lead vocalist and a favourite singer of mine since the debut House Of Lords album, but I believe that his voice comes across much better when the music is a bit heavier. Precious Metal is the best album since Come To My Kingdom and an album that I can put alongside the classic three House Of Lords albums, the self titled debut from 1988, Sahara (1990) and Demons Down (1992), when it comes to the quality of songs and production. I’m pretty sure that House Of Lords won’t ever release a bad album under Christian’s reign, but wouldn’t it be awesome if he just kept on releasing them like this? If you’re a House Of Lords / James Christian fan – hell, even if you’re just a fan of melodic rock an AOR in general, you needn’t think twice about buying this. All thumbs up from this guy!
Jon Wilmenius (9/10)
02. I’m Breakin’ Free
04. Live Every Day (Like It’s The Last)
05. Permission To Die
06. Precious Metal
07. Swimmin’ With The Sharks
09. Enemy Mine
11. Turn Back The Tide
12. You Might Just Save My Life