Hard to believe that Saint of the Lost Souls is now the tenth studio album from US rockers House of Lords, but then again, it was 1989 when their self-titled debut burst on the scene to plenty of acclaim, showing once again that the years are flying by quickly. As the only holdover from those initial years, vocalist/keyboard player James Christian is still leading the charge alongside guitarist Jimi Bell, bassist Chris Tristram, and drummer BJ Zampa, the current configuration now together for a decade. This latest Frontiers Records release doesn't stray far from the formula, delivering the classy brand of melodic rock the band have always been known for, and for most, that will indeed be a good thing.
Saint of the Lost Souls contains 11 tracks of accessible, catchy hard rock music filled with plenty of hooks and tasty musical passages. Though House of Lords has always been a band more concerned with the 'song' than showing off musical prowess, there's more than enough sizzling guitar work and flamboyant keyboard orchestrations to go around here. "Harlequin" kicks things off in fine fashion, as swirling synths give way to crunchy guitar riffs and Christian's still commanding vocals, a fine example of soaring melodic rock with a progressive rock/metal edge. "Oceans Divide" and "Hit the Wall" are both catchy '80s styled rockers, the latter more of a power ballad with a great Christian vocal, but it's with the energetic title cut that things really get interesting. Easily one of the heaviest songs this band has ever done, House of Lords dials up their inner power/prog metal demons and let it all hang out, Christian soaring to the heavens over lethal riffing from Bell, nimble keys, and dynamic rhythms. Bell's guitar solo on this one is fantastic, melodic yet showing plenty of flash. I'd love to hear the band do more in this aggressive style in the future. Acoustic guitars and synths come out for the melodic "The Sun Will Never Set Again", Christian showing his soft side rather effectively, and the more symphonic "New Day Breakin' " is another great upbeat '80s styled rocker complete with a memorable chorus. "Reign of Fire" rocks pretty hard in grand Deep Purple/Styx/Uriah Heep fashion thanks to some great organ/guitar/synth riffs, a formula that continues on the raging "Concussion", Bell again putting on a clinic with his guitar. The second cousin to the title track comes in the form of "Grains of Sand", another riff-heavy prog/metal number with a sinister vibe thanks to some snarling guitar from Bell and Christian's effective use of orchestral synths. Even closer "The Other Option", a tune about the labors of getting older, rocks hard and shows the band in fine form.
Saint of the Lost Souls was a nice surprise, heavier than I expected yet still retaining those memorable hooks that House of Lords always specialize in. If you haven't listened to this band in a while, I say this one is a great place to jump back on board, and if you have followed closely, Saint of the Lost Souls does not disappoint.
03.Hit The Wall
04.Saint Of The Lost Souls
05.The Sun Will Never Set Again
06.New Day Breakin'
07.Reign Of Fire
09.Art Of Letting Go
10.Grains Of Sand
11.The Other Option