In keeping with Chris and Aaron’s theme this week, an album I am anticipating is the new one from House of Lords, Precious Metal. Due out on February 25th, this release has flown somewhat under the radar as has the band for most of their career.
Formed in 1987 by Gregg Guiffria, the band was signed to Simmons Records by Gene after he heard the demos for what would have been the band Guiffria’s third album. He had one stipulation, and that was they had to replace singer David Glenn Eisley. Enter singer James Christian and in 1988 House of Lords released their eponymous self titled debut album. The band was always somewhere between AOR and glam metal, however despite having a major hit with the song “I Wanna Be Loved”,they were a little late to the party that so many glam metal bands had enjoyed. In 1990 they released Sahara that also spawned the hit singles “Can’t Find My Way Home”, and “Remember My Name” to a lukewarm response. At this time the musical climate was changing and by the time they released their third effort, 1992’s Demon’s Down, the world was full on into grunge. They disbanded by 1993.
Flash forward to 2000 and James Christian and Greg Guiffria put together a bit of a reunion line up together and begin plans to reboot with a new album. Not until 2004 does the newly reform House of Lords finally release The Power and the Myth, but by this point Guiffria has decided to retire from the road only to take on a lucrative business the casino world. The Power and the Myth really did not sound very much like the AOR gold they had spun in the 80’s, sounding more like prog rock instead. At this point James Christian takes over the band and completely replaces the members. The new line up consisted of Jimi Bell on guitar, Chris McCarvill on bass, and B.J. Zampa on drums.
Now here is where I find a bands history gets interesting. This particular line has released, in an eight year history, five studio albums and one live album. Whereas the “original” line up only released 4 proper studio albums in technically was only a five year career. Who is the real House of Lords? Its up to the individual sure, and for me I say the second version is the stronger of the two.
So where does Precious Metal stack up compared to this impressive body of work? For me, its up there with the best of them. I feel like creatively they have stretched their boundaries a bit more, but still maintain the classic sound maybe even an bit heavier. The album opens with “Battle” which is the perfect opening song. A fast, heavy track that sets a good tone. Next is “I’m Breaking Free” which settles in as a solid AOR track which is followed up by “Epic”. This song is a good idea, but I feel the words let it down a bit. “Live Everyday(Like It’s the Last) follows as a true power ballad as only HOL can do. The fifth track is probably my favorite, “Permission to Die”. Great guitar riff and you hear Jimi really start to show his chops. Here’s a guy you never hear about, but can wail on his guitar-very underrated. The title track is next, and it is the second ballad on the album, “Precious Metal”. To be honest, this song caught me by surprise as I was thinking based on metal being in the title that is would be a balls out rocker. Instead you get a tender love ballad that has a terrific vocal harmony that blew me away. If this were a two sided album then “Swimmin’ With the Sharks” would open side two and it is a great choice as it is another solid rocker. Next is “Raw” which for me, I like the verses and the guitar work but the chorus doesn’t do it for me. Track nine is called “Enemy Mine”and this is where they go off their formula a bit and it works. Good song with backround vocals from James’ wife Robin Beck. The next three songs really finish the album out well, “Action”, “Turn Back the Tide”, and “You Might Just Save My Life”. They just seem to go together well one right after the other. All have good guitar work in them, James’ really sings on “Turn Back the Tide”, and I love the chorus idea in “You Might Just Save My Life”.
This album is a strong release and I strongly recommend this album to everybody. If each song was worth one point I would rate this release as a 9.5 out of 12.