House of Lords - The Power and the Myth - 2004 Frontiers Records Reviewed by: Jonah Haze
01. Today 02. All Is Gone 03. Am I The Only One 04. Living In Silence 05. The Power And The Myth 06. The Rapture 07. Man Who I Am 08. Bitter Sweet Euphoria 09. Mind Trip 10. Child Of Rage
After over a decade of wait and a great deal of hype in the last two years the mighty House of Lords return with their fourth release "The Power and the Myth". This effort brings us back to the original 1988 lineup sans the controversially recent solo Greg Giuffria. Derek Sherinian among others competently replace the Double G on the keys still providing strength even if the original sound has been comprimised due to his untimely departure.
I will be honest, I was kind of hoping for Sahara II but that would have been no fun as their first 3 albums were each different yet had a common thread that kept you coming back. So, as the anticipation rose I was eventually pleased to find a very mature sounding HOL in 2004 in terms of songwriting, performance and especially production. Hats off to both HOL and Frontiers's Frabrizio Grossi for the genius sonic delivery the minute you push play. I believe the root of this band's brilliance lies in this lineup. There is a flow among the players here often only found in bands with 30 year careers and it translates well.
While vocalist James Christian seems to be holding back in some places his voice sounds amazingly natural and smooth inside the majority of these smooth contemporary AOR Hard Rock classics. Hinting at a slightly progressive direction the album opens with the haunting melodies of "Today" and "All is Gone". Despite their moody non-metallic feel these two songs, like a majority of the album, teach us that you dont have to repeat history but still retain the recognizable quality that attracted a fanbase to begin with. Moving into ballad territory , "Am I the Only One" suffices as a standard but could have actually been recorded by many bands and still sound good as it doesn't lend anything too special to the album. Alright, "Living in Silence" picks up the beat and the tude a bit and seguays well into the powerful instrumental title track. At this point, I realized that this song alone undeniably proves that the trio of Cordola, Wright and Mary are some of the most technically proficient and intelligent musicians this side of 2004.
Holding the intensity to a nice level, JC returns for another musically ambitious journey in "The Rapture". Complete with mystical implications and orchestral manuevers "The Rapture" is sure to confuse new fans about the ethnic origins of the band. Finally, my personal pick, "The Man Who I Am" sees the band pulling from its trademark how to write a ballad book and succeeding in what should be a huge radio hit. I am sure that some markets in Europe and in the midwest US will give it a spin but again the major markets will surely pass it off as yet another hair band returning to fail. Too bad, as this band always had a great pop sensibility and a great melody is timeless no matter who you are.
The CD wraps with the post-psychadelic classic rock ala Hendrix/Cream "Bitter Sweet Euphoria", the uptempo catchy rocky "Mind Trip" and the closest we get to repeating history with "Child of Rage". The latter being a song that was penned years ago for an attempted comeback and resurfaced here. James really lets loose here and refreshes the listener with his rough yet emotional highs. Unlike this song the rest of the tunes spell the spirit of the natural progression that took place within the band over the years but it still works well within this context and makes for a considerate ending.
In these uncertain times of reformations, reunions, repeats, reinvention, relapses and plain retardation, House of Lords is welcome to promote and herald the return of talented writers and performers. Arenas around the US have not been the same in the past almost 14 years but with releases like this, the Scorps, Tesla, JLT, Motorhead and others hopefully we can change that.