House of Lords – Saints of the Lost Souls
Frontiers Music Srl (March 2017)
Reviewer: Peter Scallan
House of Lords need no introduction for fans of AOR/melodic rock. Oringially formed in the 80s from the ashes of Giuffria by Greg Giuffria, they released a spectacular debut and equally impressive follow-up. The band has changed somewhat since then but still includes James Christian on vocals. This is the tenth studio album from the band and also features new bass player Chris Tristram.
From the first song ‘Harlequin‘, this album has a different feel to their previous outing and seems more key board-based. It opens with a lush keyboard intro for the six minute long opener. Once the song gets going, I must admit it is a little disappointing. I like the focus on keyboards but the overall mix, in particular the guitar sound, is a little lack lustre. This one really needs to kick you in the gonads to work and it doesn’t. This is quickly followed by ‘Oceans Divide‘. It has a great chorus hook and is more suited to the overall sound of the album as a melodic rocker. However, for ‘Hit the Wall‘ the sound and feel really hits the spot. This is songs strikes an ideal balance between guitar, keys and vocals and is easily the best song on the album for me. The title track, ‘Saints Of The Lost Souls‘, is next and it starts with atmospheric keyboards. It is an up-tempo melodic rocker that needs to be seriously guitar driven but doesn’t quite come off as it just isn’t edgy enough. There is a change of pace for the acoustic opening of ‘The Sun Will Never Set Again‘. The songs builds nicely to a catchy chorus and again the production works well for this power ballad.
‘New Day Breakin‘ kicks off the second half of the album and a great guitar/keys combo riff and another great hook for the chorus, although the backing vocals/refrains at the end are a little weak. ‘Reign of Fire‘ in its title suggests it’s going to be an out and out rocker. It’s actually a mid-paced rocker that for me doesn’t really get going. For the next song title is even more misleading. Entitled ‘Concussion‘, it is a bluesey rocker which bounces along nicely on thumping bass line with great balance between the guitars and keyboards. It is also another great chorus even with that strange title! ‘Art of Letting Go‘ follows and starts well but for me really doesn’t really get going. The intro to ‘Grains of Sand‘ is excellent and twists and turns through the verse, bridge and chorus and has another catchy chorus. Last song on the album is ‘The Other Option‘ which is a pacey closer which needs to be much edgier to have any chance of working. Unlike some of the other weaker songs which have the saving grace of a catchy chorus, the chorus just doesn’t do it for me. I especially didn’t like the woahs at the end, which kind of sum of the lack-lustre feel of the album in places.
With this album I have given it numerous spins to get to grips with the content. It has some super stuff on it in the shape of the likes of ‘Hit the Wall‘, ‘The Sun Will Never Set‘ and ‘Concussion‘. But overall the production/mix of the album just leaves me a little cold. In Jimi Bell they have an excellent guitarist and he shines in some of the tracks in terms of lead playing. However, when the songs really need to rock, they just don’t. The power just isn’t there resulting in the pacey rockers falling flat. In addition, the drums sound so programmed that the fills really do start to irritate a little and the drums sound is part of the lack-lustre mix. I totally get what the band are trying to do here with moving more in the direction of the keyboards. However, for the production is letting it down as it has ended sounding a little too sanitised and dare I say it quantised! Not a bad album, but I just don’t think I would spend my money on it!