House of Lords
World Upside Down
8/31/2006 - Review by: Jonah Haze
House Of Lords - World Upside Down – 2006 – Frontiers Records
While I was more than musically pleased with 2004’s comeback “The Power and the Myth”, the key element missing was the traditional AOR rooted songwriting. The songs just didn’t match the magical performances by these gifted musicians. The first three albums, each featuring a different line up for James Christian to create with still retain a classic consistency of one great song after another and will forever receive rotation on my disc player and in my head as part of one giant soundtrack to my life.
Insert any cliché here but HOL are back and at the very top of their game. This is where they were headed and thanks to the relentless faith of vocalist James Christian nearly 20 years after their debut he achieves his finest slice of entertainment yet! This time around JC’s vision of the world focuses on a new set of heroes in the fascinating legacy of lords. Jimi Bell, a “shredful” guitarist, Jeff Kent rockin' the bass and BJ Zampa just punching the drums as hard as he can, relocated to the call of JC after making waves on the speed/thrash metal scene. BJ spent time on Metal Church’s Masterpiece tour and followed David Wayne as he went solo in 2001, Jimi was introduced and played all the guitars on Wayne’s masterful solo cd ironically titled “Metal Church”. Imagine the possibilities and responsibilities these gentlemen had to consider in creating cohesion with the AOR sounds of James Christian.
They were definitely blessed with the power to now raise from Hard Rock AOR to Power Metal AOR exampling the heavier sides of bands like PC69 or the lighter sides of sounds that Saxon or might resonate. This is the big leagues in Europe and has turned out to already be an instant classic. The new darker direction has never fit JC better. Taking the cue and writing lyrics and melodies to give Jimi and Jeff’s music its due results in a timely album with timeless themes like facing your own heaven and hell, your own mortality, how heartbreaks and heartaches and hard times exist all around the world, how war can tear people apart and how freedom can bring us all together again, and most importantly how the genre and the generation of rock and metal will always lead the way.
The Double G, who refused his part in the comeback of the original line up in 04 makes his grand return with album credits “Featuring: Keyboard productions of Greg Guiffria”. Explaining everything at the top of the line up is a hauntingly beautiful orchestral piece called the “Mask of Eternity: Overture No. 1” which my mom says sounds like “Dracula Music”. So, there we have it kids, another new sub-genre to start building in “Dracula Metal”. Thanks, Mom. The rest of the album reads like Tiger Woods putting uphill to the left: stunningly representative of professionals at work! Up tempo, power driven, hard rockin’, emotional, dynamic and with some acoustic guitars and orchestration for dramatic effect all equaling an awesome firework display of sing along power metal choruses with a hard euro edge. Returning to the PC69 reference above let me explain that this record while produced by JC was mixed by magic man Dennis Ward who justifies with a sonic firestorm only again establishing a hard European edge to their sound.
This album is more Stan Lee than Stan Bush for those of you in the know of the history of songwriting in the band. It boasts more fist pounding action, which as it turns out contends solidly with a heart-wrenching classic like “Hearts of the World” from their self titled 1988 release.
I am not gonna give ya a blow by blow with the songs, just trust my judgement that this is a fun in the sun release for 2006 that is mature and dark enough to sound even better when the night comes calling. Every song kicks ass and the record as a whole is near perfect if not perfect. If anything, points taken away for taking so long to release this piece of genius. I have said this for every review for a Frontiers release, I have come to expect brilliant production, songwriting, performances, and have yet to be let down. Do yourselves a favor and go buy this record and go check out the Frontiers website at frontiers.it and you wont find anything that you wont like and will instantly understand how this label is almost single handedly responsible for saving the world with rock and roll.
--Jonah Haze 08.14.06
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