|House Of Lords World Upside Down||Frontiers Records|
So there is a little controversy to this album. I think once any House Of Lords fan gets through the album for the first time, any doubts will be erased.|
House Of Lords caused a stir with their last studio album The Power & The Myth, perhaps for the wrong reasons though. The record found its fans, but a good portion on the traditional HOL fanbase were unhappy with the change in style and direction taken by the band.
It wasn't just the style - it was also the time taken in getting the record done and singer James Christian also came under fire for his vocal performance.
World Upside Down is some quirky way is an apt title for this new album. Since the last record, everything in the HOL camp has been turned upside down. In comes a new line-up...the record was written and recorded in quick time...and stylistically the band reverts back to everything that made the HOL name great.
One could argue that the new line-up isn't truly House Of Lords, but there will be just as many, if not more, that will argue that the last album with the original line-up didn't sound anything like what was expected of the band.
World Upside Down however is totally House Of Lords in sound and direction. James Christian steers the band through rocky waters into a glorious bay of harmonies, wailing guitars, huge choruses and a big fat production sound that sees this album stand proudly between the self-titled debut and Demon's Down.
This is a bloody fine melodic rock record and everyone involved deserves a little credit. This is a very energetic record and literally jumps from the speakers. James Christian sounds amazing – as good as I can remember and certainly the best since Demons Down. New guitarist Jimi Bell plays all over this record - riffs galore, but some great solos and blazing overdubs too. Jeff Kent and BJ Zampa supply a hearty rhythm section and Jeff double-dips with some traditional House Of Lords keyboard parts.
Original keys man and band founder Gregg Giuffria returns in a cameo role, with several keyboard passages included, but his influence over the record is easy to pick. His advice to the guys on production and keyboard sounds means this record retains the feel of the original band.
Track By Track:
A nice typically overblown intro in the form of Mask Of Eternity opens the album, signaling the band's intentions with this record - blazing guitars and an epic production.
These Are The Times is a strong opening track and a typical HOL styled uptempo melodic rocker. A strong chorus is amplified by some big vocals and a hearty guitar riff. Welcome back guys!
All The Way To Heaven is another trademark HOL track, but this time relying on the band's knack of serving up a rock anthem wrapped up in a moody, angst filled delivery. Some big backing vocals, a very melodic chorus and a quirky lyrical theme familiar to the band add to the track.
Field Of Shattered Dreams is a huge power rock ballad with a chorus that seems to go on forever and features some amazing harmony vocals. Lyrically it is a message for all those serving their country overseas during this time of conflict.
I'm Free is probably the most contemporary song on offer. It is a heavier and darker rocker with an aggressive edge in the vocals and lead guitar. Less emphasis on the chorus here, which helps vary the record.
All The Pieces Falling is an acoustic driven ballad and a more traditional sounding track. A heartfelt ballad that builds in tempo, while adding more and more soaring vocals.
Rock Bottom steers the album back into uptempo hard rock territory, with a big groove and a big attitude. A bit of a throw-away rocker, but good fun nevertheless. The guitar riff reminds me of that true HOL sound.
Million Miles is just brilliant. This is everything I love about James Christian and House Of Lords – uptempo and over the top. A cool guitar riff is thrown in and the song is extremely melodic during the verse and a big melodic anthem chorus. Love it.
Your Eyes continues the melodic bliss. This starts slow and remains mid-tempo and is a ballad of sorts, but a rock ballad with another big harmony filled chorus. A nice guitar solo just adds to the enjoyment.
Ghost Of Time makes the album even better again. Some moody keyboard parts and a smooth guitar riff start the song off before it turns uptempo, very melodic and very passionate. This rocker has a superb chorus and follows on perfectly from Million Miles - the two songs remind me of the closing tracks on the band's killer debut - where every song was more melodic than the last and you couldn't believe one killer track just followed the other.
My Generation turns up the heat again with a grittier, dirtier rock sound along the same lines as I'm Free, but with a bigger and better chorus and lots of drum rhythms. It makes for a nice circuit breaker between anthems, but not a personal favourite.
S.O.S is that other anthem which adds to the gloriousness of Million Miles and Ghost Of Time. Incredibly commercial and utterly brilliant – through the verse, the chorus and the big finale.
World Upside Down closes the album brilliantly on a somewhat reflective note. This track is a mid-tempo ballad with a little orchestral padding which lifts the melody beautifully.
Something lacking from Power & The Myth was big choruses and big vocals. This album has both. The backing vocals on this record in particular are immense, with James, wife Robin Beck and guest Terry Brock all supplying some huge vocals.
This record is the very definition of melodic hard rock and for me blows the last album and even James' 2 solo records out of the water. Easily my second favourite album of the year thus far and I'm guessing the best of the year in many other fans eyes.
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