I have to admit – I still have a hard time seeing House Of Lords as House Of Lords the band even though this line-up with singer James Christian, Guitarist Jimi Bell and drummer B.J. Zampa has been playing together since 2005, longer than any other line-up in the band’s history. Only the bass spot – which now is being held by Chris Tristram – has been unstable throughout the years. For some reason, all the records since Christian got the blessing from the band’s founder Gregg Giuffria to keep the name and released the come back album World Upside Down in 2006, brings the feeling of a James Christian solo project more than an actual band. I could be wrong here – and I probably am – but House Of Lords just don’t feel like a band to me. Maybe it’s because Christian’s solo records sounds too similar to House Of Lords’ albums or maybe it’s because the rest of the members seem to hold a bit of a back ground position opposed to the original line-up back in the 80’s where all members were more or less at the front. But that doesn’t mean that I think the other guys are bad by any means or that their music isn’t good enough – no, quite the contrary. The quality of their records hasn’t always been spot-on but except for the horrible The Power And The Myth (2004), no bad record have ever been released under the House Of Lords moniker – at worst, a House Of Lords album has been “only” good. That said, I’m still waiting for the album to match the amazingly brilliant Come To My Kingdom (2008), a record that is easily as great as the first three albums. Maybe this one will be it?
Opener “Harlequin” has been out for some time now as it is the first single / video and I must admit that the song floored me by hello. The big keyboard intro signed Michele Luppi (Whitesnake) brings my thoughts back to the glory days of the debut album and the song “Pleasure Palace”. The song itself is heavy with a twist of 70’s more pompous melodic hard rock and I even get a mid 70’s Rainbow vibe, all with the characteristic House Of Lords sound all over the tune. While nothing out of the ordinary, “Oceans Divide”, a melodic hard rock tune that could have been lifted from any of the band’s albums since 2006, stands out by being just really catchy with a melody that just won’t leave my brain. So who cares if it sounds like just another House Of Lords tune when it is this good? Not me. “Hit The Wall” is a laid back tune that is total AOR and even on the ballad side, not a far cry from last album’s “Call My Bluff” style wise. The song is slightly Def Leppard influenced and has a cozy, feel-good vibe that makes it almost hypnotizing – brilliant!
The title track follows and this riff-happy, heavy grooved melodic rocker takes a step back to 70’s / early 80’s heavy rock with an amazingly catchy refrain that screams classic House Of Lords all the way. It’s one of the best tunes this version of the band has ever written, in my book. I have always enjoyed House Of Lords’ ballads and “The Sun Will Never Set Again” is no exception. This is a true power ballad based on acoustic guitars and contains a beautiful, almost dreamlike melody that hits bull’s-eye with a chorus to die for. “New Day Breakin'” is, just like “Oceans Divide”, a standard melodic hard rock song that this band have written loads of, but it is also a stellar rocker with a chorus that sticks like glue – and better than most of their songs in the same vein. “Reign Of Fire” is a tune that mixes melodic rock heaviness with early 80’s pomp rock, but it also comes with a melody – especially in the chorus – that contains a lot of AOR, a very good song.
There’s some big groovin’ going on in “Concussion”, a melodic rocker built on a rhythm & blues foundation and a memorable refrain. A good song without being all that extraordinary. “Art Of Letting Go” is a nice little pop song with a good enough melody and some harmony vocals. However, it doesn’t do that much for me and it feels kind of forgettable, I’m afraid. “Grains Of Sand”, however, is brilliant. This heavy AOR / melodic rocker comes with a darker edge and another nod back to 70’s pomp with an almost progressive vibe. Jimi Bell’s guitar arrangement also hold a small Eastern influence which brings even more character to the song – awesome! Closing track “The Other Option” comes in a faster pace with shitloads of hooks, a direct melody and a chorus that hits like a ton of bricks – a great way to end the album.
So do this House Of Lords album match my favorite Come To My Kingdom then? Well, yes, I would say it does. They came close with the last one, Indestructible (2015), a killer record, but this one is a bit better even. I mean, there aren’t a lot that is new under the sun here and House Of Lords sure are a “what you see is what you get” kind of band, a band that you know before-hand what you’re gonna get. But unless you don’t write the same album over and over, which House Of Lords don’t, that only proves that you have your own sound and identity and that is exactly what this band have. What’s different here is that this time House Of Lords has written the best songs in – if you don’t count the last album – ages and while I like the rest of this line-up’s discography, I can’t say that I listen to it very often. This album is different, this feels like an album I want to get back to again and again. To me, this album is the closest in sound to their late 80’s glory days of all their recent albums, much to the more frequent use of keyboards and that is much to my liking. Well done, boys.
Other House Of Lords reviews:
2. Oceans Divide
3. Hit The Wall
4. Saint Of The Lost Souls
5. The Sun Will Never Set Again
6. New Day Breakin’
7. Reign Of Fire
9. Art Of Letting Go
10. Grains Of Sand
11. The Other Option