Review By Mike Paradine
Band: HOUSE OF LORDS
Album: Precious Metal
Label: Frontiers Records
Release Dates: February 21 – Europe, February 25th – North America
02. I’m Breakin’ Free
04. Live Every Day (Like Its 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
What a coincidence! Here I am at home, reading about keyboardist Greg Giuffria and my editor emails me and asks if I would be interested in doing a review of the new HOUSE OF LORDS album, “Precious Metal”. I’m not really into bands that rely heavily on keyboards except a handful like Deep Purple, Uriah Heep, Rainbow and the early works of Mr. Giuffria’s former band, ANGEL. I’ve heard HOUSE OF LORDS back in the past and always thought they were a good, competent band but thought they had tried to jump on the band wagon when Whitesnake and the like, were getting most of the attention at the time.
After listening to the album several times, they still have the same sound as yester year but with a bit more heaviness. This is do mainly because they pushed keyboards to the back and brought forward the great guitar work of Jimi Bell.
The first song ‘Battle’ is the perfect song from this album to start things up. A good heavy and driving song that brings out the curiosity to hear the rest of the album. As with most of the record, the guitars dominate and the keyboards act in a more a supporting roll. Vocalist James Christian‘s voice is in excellent shape here with just a touch of grit to it. It reminds me of another singer but can’t quite recall who.
As soon as hear the beginning riffs of ‘I’m Breakin’ Free’ my heart begins to sink. The rhythm reminds me of ‘Girls in Black Cars’, an awful song from the band Autograph. But thank gawd, it soon changes and what we have is a straight ahead rock song. A very 80’s sounding tune with some KISS and Paul Stanley, from the same era, vibe going in the chorus. Cool guitar solo and solid vocals once again but I still can’t remember who the vocals remind me of.
Track 3, ‘Epic’ begins with some keyboard sounds which maybe a nod to Greg Giuffra’s time in the band. But once the band gets into full force, it gets a bit heavier and a strong, solid song forms. The writing shows off a very good balance between the heaviness of the music and the melodic vocal melodies. Good drum fills by drummer, B.J. Zampa are showcased here.
‘Live Every Day’ is a step right out of the 80’s typical ballad. With his throaty and rasp tone, it finally comes to mind who James Christian sometimes sounds like, Bryan Adams. As this song demonstrates, it also seems to be ripped from the pages of a Mr. Adams song book. Not a bad song, just one we’re heard a thousand times.
This next song started with some promising guitar work. ‘Permission To Die’ begins with some amazing guitar sounds that brings me directly to VAN HALEN’s “Fair Warning” album – very cool. But disappointment rears its ugly head and I get more of the band Slaughter and nothing anything like VH at all. The chorus has cool up and down vocal lines but thought the song should have gone into a different and better direction. A bit of a let down.
The next song and title of the album is very misleading. ‘Precious Metal’ is another ballad and another Bryan Adams like song…..almost way too much! Don’t get me wrong, it is a good song but man, was I duped when I pre-judged the song strictly by its title, as it is an acoustic and emotional song.
Switching gears, ‘Swimming With The Sharks’ gets the listeners head banging away. This is the type of song that you would sing along with while driving a bit too fast down the highway. The rhythm section of bassist Jeff Kent and drummer B.J. Zampa really bring out their best.
Guitars cut through, the slower and heavy trodden song, ‘Raw’ which brings the sound to a bit more of a contemporary sound. The end with its cut time and superb guitar work make it one of the heaviest songs on the album.
Now what the hell is this?!?!??!!? The beginning intro sounds like something the Back Street Boys would use. Thankfully, ‘Enemy Mine’ morphs into a simple song with a duet from female vocalist Robin Beck who absolutely kills it on her parts. Keyboards take center stage here and once again very catchy vocal lines which could very well bring it to commercial radio. Once again, I’ve heard this type of composition and sound with Primal Fear when Ralph Scheepers shared vocal duty with Pamela Moore.
‘Action’ summons up the guitar ghosts of the 1980’s. Again we get a little touch of Van Halen in the solo and in parts of the rhythm guitar work but this time we get a gritty, hard, straight rocking song.
A more subdued song is found in ‘Turn Back the Tide’. More melodic that most of the album but still a good song.
The last song once again brings us back the future. Here we have a Dokken inspired number called “You Might Just Save My Life”. A very “Dream Warriors” type song including the George Lynch solo with Slaughter‘s layered vocal technique in the chorus.
Now I compared their sound to a lot of other bands but make no mistake about it, HOUSE OF LORDS combines all these ideas and they make it their own. They injected a lot of energy into this album and it shows in each and every song, no filler here. They have been putting out the same quality music for years but this one brings in a heavier sound. Catchy chorus, a tight rhythm section and strong vocals performance is a mainstay from start to finish. Jimi Bell shines on this album as he brings all the guitar wizardry that was prominent in the past but is now lacking in the present….really good to hear again and glad he brought that back up! Though it is not my favorite type of hard rock music, I found this album very enjoyable and glad I was able to review it. If you are a fan of this genre, than you can’t get any better than this and even if you’re just a fan of good, quality hard rock, you can’t go wrong with this either.
James Christian – lead vocals, guitar, keyboards
Jimi Bell – guitar
Jeff Kent – keyboards, bass, backing vocals, songwriting
B.J. Zampa – drums, backing vocals
Chris McCarvill – bass, backing vocals