So the last two HOUSE OF LORDS records have been nothing short of amazing, with both 2014’s Precious Metal and 2015’s Indestructible landing on my Top Albums lists of those years. What’s interesting too is that they were also a bit more on the heavy side of the Melodic Rock spectrum with Jimi Bell’s guitar taking center stage for much of the tracks. The keyboards were still there, just not as prevalent as they were on older records. This time around with brand new record Saint of the Lost Souls (March 24, Frontiers Music) there was a conscious decision to have the keys share the spotlight but not at the expense of Bell’s riffing and shredding.
Recorded and produced by lead singer extraordinaire James Christian, there is a real ebb and flow to this one as is usually the case with the band. Opener “Harlequin” sets the scene with a keys intro before it kicks into gear, setting the stage for “Oceans Divide” next. BJ Zampa (drums) and new addition on bass Chris Tristram are nice and high in the mix, as they should be. “Hit the Wall” is a mid-tempo number that grabbed me right away and features arguably the best Bell solo on the disc, as well as an instantly memorable chorus that Christian sings with authority.
The record ups the heavy considerably with the title track, but what I loved most about it wasn’t even that; it is that keyboard line right after the chorus lyric “Saint of the Lost Souls.” Another stellar solo from Bell doesn’t exactly hurt the track, either. One thing you can always count on from HOUSE OF LORDS is a great ballad or two on their records and “The Sun Will Never Set Again” is no exception. I guarantee it’s a tune longtime fans will love. “New Day Breakin’” is an uptempo rocker that evokes thoughts of JOURNEY, another of my favorite bands, so clearly that makes it a winner!
And speaking of winners, I’ve had a few different tracks occupying my #1 spot since I first got the disc, but the runaway favorite is now “Reign of Fire.” THIS is the quintessential “Get up and fucking ROCK!” song. If the band doesn’t do it live on their next tour then there is no justice and I will have to do something drastic like shave my head straight down the middle and leave the rest! Nobody wants to see that, believe me. “Concussion” has this incredible swagger and groove to it. It sounds like HoL, but it’s also kind of different, which adds to the appeal. “Art of Letting Go” has a great blend of heavy and melodic, and that echoed, “Go, go, go…” on the hook is priceless.
The vibe on “Grains of Sand” is somewhat darker than the rest, but still fits nicely within the framework of the record, and has serious teeth. Closing the disc is “The Other Option”, the whole band hitting the gas pedal and racing for the finish line. The lyric “I don’t care for getting older, but it’s better than the other option” is sung with conviction and harmonies that would have you believing this was in fact a band of young upstarts instead of seasoned veterans who have already climbed and conquered Rock & Roll Mountain. This is such a fantastic note to end on.
Well, once again HOUSE OF LORDS have done it. They have delivered another home run of a record. The key to any great band’s longevity is to embrace the idea of change and not make the same thing over and over again. And Saint of the Lost Souls is as musically diverse as it is familiar where it needs to be. Buy this one on release day, you won’t regret it. Then hop in your car, turn it up, and don’t stop driving till it’s over. Then maybe hit REPEAT and drive some more!
STANDOUT TRACKS: ALL OF THEM