House Of Lords
As a fervent, Attention Deficit Disorder-addled practitioner of the Hard Rock and Heavy Metal genres, my musical tastes--and thus the artists and groups I find myself enjoying the most--have changed dramatically as I have aged, matured and inevitably grown older. Gone, for the most part, are the simple and obvious melodies of my youth, having been entirely, and in some cases unceremoniously, replaced by a mind-boggling series of increasingly-complex arrangements and abrasively introspective subject matter. Despite this (or perhaps in part because of it), I continued to find myself utterly fascinated with a certain subsection of artists and groups from both my personal preferences and my adventure-filled experiences as an entertainment 'journalist'. A prime example of this enthusiastic enamoring is my uniquely enduring love affair with Los Angeles, California-based Melodic Hard Rock/Heavy Metal veterans House Of Lords and their latest sonic masterpiece Big Money.
On the stellar Big Money (2011), an expertly assembled twelve song collection of Melodic Hard Rock and Heavy Metal, each track, beginning with the acoustic-tinged lament “One Man Down” and the maddeningly infectious “Someday When”, immediately commands the rapt and undivided attention of all parties involved. Wisely attempting to capitalize on the tidal wave of momentum initiated with the release of the woefully-underrated Cartesian Dreams (2009) and Come To My Kingdom (2008), the group wastes little--if any--time driving home each key focal point via a seamless, mostly mid-tempo barrage of soaring vocals, blistering fretwork and imaginatively punishing rhythms. Boldly reinforcing their occasionally-maligned lineage (there have, after all, been several line-up changes and a bevy of label-related turmoil) with an oddly-efficient enthusiasm that expands upon their trademark tonalities, the group's initial provisions are indeed quite palpable.
Continuing with the relentlessly pummeling “Living In A Dream World” and the emotionally-charged power ballad “The Next Time I Hold You”, the steadfast--to say the very least--combination of ex-Eyes/Jasper's Wrath vocalist James Christian, guitarist Jimi Bell (Mike Vescera, Thunderhead and Wayne, among others), bassist Chris McCarvill (Dokken, Eddie Ojeda), keyboardist Jeff Kent and drummer BJ Zampa (Blues Saraceno, Yngwie Malmsteen) steamrolls ahead like the well-oiled machine they have so obviously become. Firing on all cylinders early and often, the group dives headlong into what can only be described as a truly extraordinary collection of delightfully user-friendly material. Avoiding, for the most part, at least, the payola and chart position-driven tactics so often utilized by the would-be elite, the group proudly showcases their quasi-virtuosic tendencies without engulfing the 'proverbial average listener' amid a veritable avalanche of inane complexities.
A self-Produced affair throughout, other standouts, including the stereotype-laden--yet highly-effective-- “Seven” and the thunderous, equally impressive closer “Blood”, offer a wealth of further evidence in support of the group's rapidly-expanding legacies without, believe it or not, sounding either forced or dated. Forever silencing those once doubtful of their abilities to persevere within such a notoriously unfriendly musical climate, the group punctuates their more than considerable efforts with a staggering array of quasi-unrequited passion. While rather far removed from the oft-dizzying heights of their mascara, hairspray and MTV-fueled heyday (i.e. the soaring Hot 100 hit “I Wanna Be Loved”, the Stan Bush-penned gem “Love Don't Lie” and, most significantly, the now-defunct Simmons Records), what eventually separates the group from their few surviving contemporaries is a renewed focus on airtight musicianship and a thought-provoking lyrical approach.
But what are the 'downsides'? Fortunately for all parties involved, they are few and far between. Although one might effectively argue that the group's particular distillation of the AOR/Hair Metal format may ultimately lack the name recognition of yore (most notably ex-Angel/Giuffria keyboardist Greg Giuffria, Quiet Riot bassist Chuck Wright and former Accept/Alice Cooper/Fifth Angel drummer Ken Mary), the majority--if not all--of the decidedly tuneful wares contained herein only further solidify the group's already undeniably well-deserved reputation as a bona fide creative and commercial force not to be ignored. Needless to say, if you've once again found yourself in search of a lastingly-memorable alternative to the painfully mindless din and clatter that doesn't involve wholeheartedly embracing a morbidly-obese expanse of spandex-clad Velveeta, then this, my friends, might just be the high-octane cure for whatever ails you. Trust me, you won't be disappointed.
Big Money (2011)
Cartesian Dreams (2009)
Come To My Kingdom (2008)
Live In The UK (2007)
World Upside Down (2006)
The Power And The Myth (2004)
Demons Down (1992)
House Of Lords (1988)