Melodic Hard Rock – this is the definition that we give to a band that plays rock n roll with foot tapping melodies, catchy hooks and a heavy edge to their sound. When a band has all of the elements required, but possesses a unique style that blends keyboards subtlety into the music like the wisp of an ocean breeze, then you have another and that is House Of Lords. The format for that truly exceptional melodic hard rock experience has resided under the moniker since 1988 and once again defines the new album “Saint of the Lost Souls.”
This melodic hard rock opus begins with a keyboard driven intro written by Michele Luppi (Whitesnake) that peaks slowly and at the pinnacle an eerie laugh unleashes “Harlequin.” This is an up-tempo rocker that hypnotizes with the soulful vibrato of James Christian. Christian’s vocals are as smooth as glass and perfectly mirrored with the signature groove of Jimi Bell’s fretboard mastery. Combined with the wall of rhythm from Chris Tristram (Bass) and BJ Zampa (drums) along with Michele Luppi’s monsterous keys, they drive the dark ages mood and overtone. “Harlequin” provides a textbook foundation to a definitive House of Lords album.
With the door wide open, enter “Oceans Divide,” the first single released from the album. The tune encompasses everything that the band is about with a nice, melodic flow that is well-written with a memorable chorus and more of Jimi Bell’s smooth guitar work. Bell’s playing is a focal point on this album and as with any guitar virtuoso, taking center stage here is second nature. Bell’s playing is heavy and melodic in all the right places and his fretboard runs are like a colt galloping on a satin pillow, smooth, methodical with plenty of kick.
House of Lords has always been about pure melody and the band can belt out a power ballad with the best of them and “Hit The Wall” is a fine example. A powerful, soothing melody line that flows perfectly with Christian’s lullabye-like delivery and Bell’s flawlessly executed solo the song is inviting and emotional. It is a perfect state to be in when the title track “Saint of the Lost Souls” slowly eases in with dreamlike keyboards that quickly give way to a big time thunder with a pure power rock tune. This tune just flat out rocks with controlled aggression and heaviness. The band shows another dimension of the many that they posses and this one is my stand out on this album of many potential standouts. What this band has always done well is put the hook into your mind and I can hear “Saint Of The Lost Souls!!!!” singing in my head. I’ve taken it with me and isn’t that what great melodic rock is all about?
The album has it all and and takes you on a journey of power, emotion and melody and every song packs that big memorable hook. “The Sun Will Never Set Again” is a mid tempo ballad with an extremely tasty Def Leppardesque hook that is flawlessly executed throughout with Christian carrying the momentum and drive. “Saint Of The Lost Souls” is House Of Lords in the purest sense of the what this band was founded on and “New Day Breakin’ “Reign Of Fire” and “Concussion” all have the heaviness and power and are nice steady up-temo rockers. I am sitting here thinking “I want to go right back to the start to listen again even with 3 songs still remaining. Yes this album is really that good. My foot taps with every groove and my brain absorbs every one of these catchy hooks.
Ok, there are 3 songs left to listen too and just as the first 8 songs “Art of Letting Go” has the catchy chorus and big harmonizing backup vocals. The sound is huge on this album and the production is top notch. Turn the volume up and let the Lords take over. Track 10 “Grains of Sand” has a nice, dark heaviness and an off tempo flow that culminates with another huge chorus. This has a slight hint of progressive rock and Bell chiming in with a Hendrix style wa-wa solo just caps it all off. I don’t know how many times I can say “This is a great tune,” but I found myself thinking just that all the way thru.
Every album of this quality has a great finishing kick and “Saint Of The Lost Souls” does not disappoint with “The Other Option.” The last song is the one that sticks with you and this one definitely will. Big sound, catchy, hook driven and up-tempo just as I expected. Bell rips off a solo that tears thru your heart and the band just swings for the fences and totally connects.
When I think of the many tremendous melodic hard rock albums that have released in the last 10 years, I can only remember a handful that I still listen to consistently. Now, with “Saint of the Lost Souls” I have added another to that regular rotation list. Every song here has something memorable weather its the catchy hook, mellow vocal line, kicking guitar solo, it is all there and then some. Having been a fan of this band since 1989 I can say with conviction that “Saint Of The Lost Souls” is the BEST House Of Lords album since the debut. This one is pure melody thru and thru and is a listening experience that needs to be appreciated. Drink it all up and take it all in; its all there.
“Saint Of The Lost Souls” track listing:
02. Oceans Divide
03. Hit the Wall
04. Saint of the Lost Souls
05. The Sun Will Never Set Again
06. New Day Breakin’
07. Reign of Fire
09. Art of Letting Go
10. Grains of Sand
11. The Other Option
HOUSE OF LORDS IS:
James Christian: Lead Vocals
Jimi Bell: Guitars
Chris Tristam – Bass
BJ Zampa – Drums
Michele Luppi – Keyboards (Harlequin)