CD Review: House of Lords / Precious Metal
It’s really hard to imagine that Precious Metal is the 9th studio album from House of Lords but then again after 1992’s Demon’s Down who would have thought that HOL would have to wait another 12 years to get to record album number 4? In fact during those 12 years from 1992-2004 I played those first three albums constantly, always in regular rotation especially on long drives because those records were just that damn good.
Last year James Christian released his third solo record Lay It All On Me with essentially HOL as his backup band. I reviewed it and gave it high marks for its vigorous songwriting style and astonishing melodic overtones. We also had a record in 2013 from Chris McCarvill, BJ Zampa and Jimi Bell in their side project Maxx Explosion titled Forever also reviewed here and was one of my top releases of last year. One thing is for sure NO ONE in this band is ever creatively satisfied or shows any signs of slowing down. Fast forward to 2014 and HOL has lots more to offer its fans with Precious Metal yet another gem from their rich history of over the top melodic harmonies, fierce songwriting and catchy hooks worthy of any of their past efforts including those first three records which are already in my own personal album hall of fame.
“Battle” opens the record with an up-tempo track very guitar driven with a catchy chorus. Jeff Kent adds some really powerful use of keyboards not heard since the days of Greg Giuffria and album #1.
“I’m Breaking Free” is not as heavy as the opener but the track more than satisfies with some of the better harmonies from James on the record. Love the tempo on this one very 80’s sounding.
“Epic” has some of the fastest guitar hooks on the record. Speedy track with a Jon Lord type sound from Jeff Kent on keys. Not as over the top I would have thought on the chorus given the song title but this song is all Jimi Bell.
“Live Every Day (Like It’s the Last)” shows the sensitive James with a giant chorus. Not quite a ballad more mid tempo but with an obvious message about living for today because you don’t know what tomorrow might bring. Great vocal. Very catchy.
“Permission to Die” starts off with a very heavy riff from Jimi and actually ends with that same tone but in between this song is extremely AOR driven with some more cool harmonies from James.
“Precious Metal” is a total showcase for James to show off his power ballad skills. Might come off even stronger live if done all acoustic. Just an idea guys..
“Swimmin With The Sharks” is a heavy rocker with my favorite type of chorus…catchy and with a ton of harmony. HOL at its best. Also this song plays to the strength of Jimi Bell which is dynamic yet melodic at the same time.
“Raw” doesn’t contain what I like in a HOL song in terms of its harmonic quality but has a great heavy riff from Jimi so what it lacks in terms of the chorus and overall lyric content it makes up for in its brawn. Average for me.
“Enemy Mine” is the type of song that has no beginning into to it all it just seems as if one is jumping right into the middle of the track. I liked it as a slower tempo number but the lack of an intro was odd. Sounds like we get a little Robin Beck on this one..never a bad thing!
“Action” has the best Jimi riff on the whole record. Big giant chorus as well from James. Nice fills from BJ throughout this one. His highlight track for sure. Yes James you are a man of Action.
“Turn Back The Tide” is the most appreciable showcase of James Christian’s vocal talents found on Precious Metal. Perfect combination of mastery and melody. Also a tasty lead from Jimi. Another winner.
“You Might Just Save My Life” is an up-tempo track with an uplifting message. Seems like a real happy HOL track. Most don’t have that sort of feel to them. Almost a Dokkenish rhythm sound on this track at times. I hear Dream Warriors in this song which is not a bad thing.
House of Lords keep pushing the envelope of producing quality music at a two or three year clip while not trying to reinvent the wheel. These guys keep busy with solo projects, side projects while still keeping the fire burning for die hard House of Lords fans like myself. Nothing seems to slow down their enthusiasm for each project. In fact they seem to be getting better with age. They have indentified their core audience and their tastes and keep serving up palatable selections of musical dinner courses. Every time I hear the new HOL record I grab my knife, fork and have plenty of napkins available. Chef James please keep these platters of delectable melodic collections coming. No fast food servings here just 5 star talent served up with a smile.