Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Album Review: House Of Lords - Indestructible

It's a sad truth, but even for people who consider themselves music nerds, who are plugged in to the music scene and love finding new music, there are simply too many bands and albums every year to keep up with everything you might want to.  House Of Lords caught my attention a few years back, releasing the great "Come To My Kingdom".  That album was a perfect example of what is dubbed AOR, but what I generally call melodic rock.  I loved that record, and rated it highly at the time, but I will admit that I would not have realized that the band was moving on to their fourth album since then.  Somewhere along the way, despite liking what they did, I lost track of the band.

After some chanted vocals to set the stage, "Go To Hell" opens the album with a fiery little riff.  James Chirstian's vocals sound off through the verses, as though the producer has put to much echo on them.  Even when the chorus hits, with it's saccharine melody, something is a bit off with the mix.  Aside from the title, it's hard to discern what James is singing, which is a pet peeve of mine that I have to say distracts me from what I'm hearing.  A singer's job is to convey the lyrics, so if they're incomprehensible, it strikes me that he or she has not lived up to their end of the bargain.

That being said, the song itself is a sweet little piece of melodic rock, the kind of song that is able to fit rocking riffs, a nifty guitar solo, and huge harmonies together.  Call it 'sunny day' rock if you want to, but there's something glorious about using rock and roll for the power of positivity.

The title track is a bit more raw, which emphasizes the natural guitar tone.  It's sure to be a point of contention, but I love tones that sound like someone plugged into an amp and did nothing else.  Over-processed guitars might sound huge, but they also sound unreal, and they fool us into believing music that isn't real.  The guitars here might be thinner, but you can hear the amps behaving as they would on stage, giving you a picture of what the band really sounds like.  I appreciate that.

"Pillar Of Salt" is as sweet a rock song as you can find, with a chorus that stretches Christian's higher range, and a melody that is familiar, although I can't quite place it.  "100mph" is a more aggressive song, but it mostly serves as a counterweight, a song that emphasized that what House Of Lords does best is not rock hard, it's play hugely melodic music.  The chorus of the song fits right in that pocket, but doesn't quite mesh with the riffs that try to make the band sound edgier and more dangerous than they are.  That song, along with the closer "Stand & Deliver" are the obvious weak links on the record, but even they are inoffensive.

When they stick to their strengths, House Of Lords deliver the goods.  They're masters of delivering big, arena-ready choruses, and these songs don't disappoint.  From top to bottom, "Indestructible" is full of great songs that are sweet, melodic, and catchy in the best ways.  There are more than a few nods to the 80s, and Christian's vocals at times recall Sebastian Bach (before his voice gave out), but it's all for a good cause.

Listening to this album, and remembering how much I enjoyed their past work, I find it hard to understand how I've gone so long not giving House Of Lords their due.  "Indestructible" shows that they are still out there making great melodic rock, and even if I think I hear Christian's voice showing signs of wear and tear, House Of Lords is still a top-notch band making music that's worth hearing if you enjoy lush, melodic rock like we used to get in the old days.

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