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Album Review: House of Lords; Saints and Sinners

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Review by Rob Broom for MPM

Take it to the House! A classy romp of melodic rock combining a swirling touch of progressive keyboards with some stirring 80s style anthems. An album that rewards repeated listening.

Formed in 1989, House of Lords have apparently been delivering finely crafted rock for 33 years but I must admit not having heard of the band before.

With this album, it is clear from the start that they really know what they are doing with that 80s’ rock genre, and there are some interesting twists and turns that really make this a worthwhile album to explore more than one or twice.

Opening with title track ‘Saints and Sinners’ and following up with the majestic ‘House of the Lord’, the band don’t hold back with the equally imposing ‘Take it All’.

All songs on the album feature the vocal talents of James Christian and these first three are great examples of that 80s ‘melodic’ rock that rode the airwaves in the 80s.

The band sound like they are really enjoying themselves, (reminding me of when I saw Uriah Heep live earlier this year) and the wonderful keyboard interludes provided by Mark Mangold strengthen that Uriah Help feeling while adding a progressive twist of Yes and Marillion with perhaps a touch of those early Boston albums thrown in for good measure!

Fourth track ‘Road Warrior’ opens with more keyboards that almost bring a nostalgic tear to the eye and the band crack into a tune that canters along with lyrics that bring a smile to the face. Its all joyful and that sense of music put together to such a high standard is shining through and well, you can’t help yourself but enjoy it! The organ break just after half way through is classic 70s to my ears.

It is all really moving along nicely and then, as the song starts to end the drummer really starts to pound his kit. Sensing this urgency, the rest of the band join in and the song finishes in a real flourish with real bite. Less nice, more nasty. This just stepped up a notch.

Then, those drums start pounding again, with more keyboard interplay. This heralds ‘Mistress of the Dark’, the longest song on the album and as the title suggests, this is more dark and powerful with some top rate vocals.

Having built the album pace up dramatically and with a song title like ‘Avalanche’, you would expect to have your face melted, but no, instead we hit that wall of terror known as the ballad.

Responsible for a number of mega radio hits in the 80s for the likes of Foreigner, Journey, Styx etc the ‘rock’ ballad, is quite honesty not something I am fond of, and this one is prime example of why. Sorry folks just not my thing regardless of how well it is constructed.

Landing as it does half way through the album you can try it once and if you don’t like it, on repeat plays, you can always skip to the next song ‘Roll Like Thunder’ and make sure you do, because the band instantly pick the pace up again and then just don’t let go.

In fact, this song, and the three that follow, all have a similar theme – big anthems, in your face singalongs and fist pumping pounders.

If you want comparisons think Bon Jovi and Foreigner meeting Journey with some real range stretching vocals and musicianship. There is lots to like here.

The pace is more up tempo and direct than the first four songs on the album which does create an intriguing ‘ying and yang’ contrast.

After Roll like Thunder has pounded you and got the vocal cords warmed up, we get the near breathless frenzy of ‘Razzle Dazzle’, this is tremendous fun and going to be even better live! See if you can keep up and that synth break mid way through is just fabulous, completely catches you out.

‘Dreamin’ It All’ keeps up the quality and once again has everything you need, a great singalong chorus, neat guitar and keyboard breaks and all the ingredients of a stadium or big radio play anthem.

‘Takin’ My Heart Back’ just keeps on giving. It is more of the same as Dreaming It All, but it is more of the same done just as good. The tune is infectious with a great catchy chorus and the band get a chance to rock, yet another one for the radio!

Closer ‘Angels Fallen’ slows down the pace a touch, but like that songs that precedes it, the chorus and tune is memorable. The band certainly pound along to a great finish and you just can’t help but singalong!

As I mentioned at the start of this review, I had never heard of the band before but, (ballads aside) I really enjoyed this album and I shall be looking forward to hearing more of what they have produced in that back catalogue.

With that real sense of the band enjoying what they are doing, if they deliver that vibe live, then House of Lords should be a great night out and not to be missed. In the meantime, treat yourself and get the album today.

1  Saints And Sinners
2  House Of The Lord
3  Take It All
4  Road Warrior
5  Mistress Of The Dark
6  Avalanche
7  Roll Like Thunder
8  Razzle Dazzle
9  Dreamin’ It All
10  Takin’ My Heart Back
11  Angels Fallen

James Christian – vocals, guitars
Jimi Bell – guitars
Mark Mangold – keyboards
Johan Koleberg – drums


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