House Of Lords are in quick time with another all new studio release to follow up last year’s Precious Metal. Now up to album number six since converting to the James Christian controlled lineup of Jimi Bell, B.J. Zampa and Chris McCarvill; House Of Lords are a force to be reckoned with.
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They will have to be careful about how much material they are putting out and ensuring that the quality doesn’t drop. In the last 18 months we’ve had two studio albums and James Christian’s own solo album.
After the patchy Precious Metal (which I rated too highly at the time), the band deliver some monster melodic rock tunes on Indestructible. It still doesn’t match the brilliance of Come To My Kingdom and World Upside Down, but it does deliver a few new HOL classics, even if the sound of the band has changed somewhat.
What I am referring to is the heavy use of James’ lovely wife Robin Beck on harmony and lead “high vocals” throughout the album.
James’ voice has become a little rougher in recent years, but he is now abdicating the role of singing the higher notes to Robin. Her voice is very cleverly mixed in there, but it’s very obvious and at times it sounds too high compared to the sound of old.
Listen to any of the HOL albums up until Cartesian Dreams and you’ll hear only James on harmonies and high vocals. From Big Money onwards it has slowly changed the band’s sound. And while I love the sound and style of the band and still really enjoy their music – this album especially – it’s a different vocal style/mix being employed. For this band I do prefer the all-male harmonies of earlier albums.
The hard driving Go To Hell is as heavy as it sounds and is made better by an infusion of keyboards (still not enough keyboards in the album generally). The chorus of this and the huge hard rock groove of the very likable Indestructible is dominated by that high pitch vocal from Robin. Same goes for Pillar Of Salt. It’s a good song first and foremost, but I can hardly hear James in the main chorus line. 100 Mph is much the same again, another very high chorus, but it’s a ripping hard rock song and very catchy.
The melodic rock of Call My Bluff features one of the catchiest vocal melody lines in recent HOL memory. A terrific song and hook. Die To Tell has come classic elements of the HOL sound and it is a good place to point out what a kick ass team James has behind him. Another Dawn has another strong chorus of course, but I’d have preferred to hear more of James in the chorus.
Ballads come in the form of the anthemic We Will Always Be One and…. Yes, that’s it! One big quality ballad while the rest of the album just rocks out – like the double-time fury of the last two tracks Ain't Suicidal and Stand And Deliver.
Yes, another highly rated quality album from House Of Lords, but more and more so, they are a different sounding band vocally. The songs though are good. Very good. Some of their best in a few albums.
Jimi Bell is a guitar legend and Chris and BJ are the rhythm section from (good) hell. Absolutely blinding performances on there from those guys
Good production and a clean mix make for an easy listen at any volume, but loud is always preferable of course.