Released: 2014, Frontiers
After a three year gap since the last studio album, House Of Lords have released their 9th studio album and 11th release overall. PRECIOUS METAL sees virtually everything still intact as the band continues on a wonderful streak of five superb albums in a row, all with the same line-up, all on the Frontiers label. If it works, don’t fix it! We can forgive a longer than usual gap between albums as according to the James Christian website he underwent an operation for cancer in spring of 2012. This may be why he has come back with new life and the band all fired up!
We are graced with another elegant and regal looking piece of artwork on the cover and we get another dozen cuts running 51 minutes, all with crystal clear production. Some of the pre-album hype was that this was to be a heavier album, and despite hearing that boast in countless press releases from any number of bands over the years, House Of Lords are true to their word. PRECIOUS METAL is one of their heaviest albums, certainly of their new era (2000-current) and possibly ever. The album opens with the driving cut ‘Into Battle’ and that really sets the tone for the darker, heavier album. I mean, it is still melodic hard rock (it is House Of Lords after all!) but by their standards, it’s heavy. Even the lyrics are a touch darker, cuts like, ‘Permission To Die’, ‘Swimming with The Sharks’, ‘Epic’, Action’, ‘Raw’ all demonstrate a bit of a tougher lyrical stance. These might not sound ‘dark’ or heavy to a Death Metal fan for example, but with the bands pro-Christian mentality and compared to previous albums, this is again a darker album, and there is nothing wrong with that!
All of the performances have a bit more fire and grit and there is less emphasis on ballads and mid-tempo tunes and even the keyboards are a little less prevalent during the songs. The songs are short and punchy with some fluid soloing and crunchy guitars driving the album along at an above average pace for the band. James voice is so distinct and definitive he puts in another fine performance after a quarter century in the business he sounds as good as ever. I know I have spent most of this review comparing the present album with past history but in case you are not familiar, PRECIOUS METAL continues the AOR/Hard rock tradition of smooth, and refined melodic songs with keyboards, crunchy guitars, clear impassioned vocals and some straight up rock drumming.
Metal-Rules.com has always been favourable to House Of Lords and a number of writers have ranked their releases very highly. Even though they might not be the heaviest, flashiest, or fastest, or most unique in a broad and competitive field of Melodic Metal, they are by far one of the most classy, consistent, and highest quality bands of the genre. PRECIOUS METAL will come to stand as one of their strongest albums in a very remarkable and admirable career.