House of Lords - World Upside Down
House of Lords attempted a return a couple of years ago with the overly prehyped "The Power and the Myth". It largely had the same lineup as classic HOL, yet the sound was anything but. Gregg Giuffria, the keyboardist that originally put the band together back in the late 80s, jumped the rapidly sinking ship. It was apparent why he wouldn't want his name tagged onto the doomed disc. The direction had changed, they introduced all sorts of strange sounds and managed to pump out one boring, noodling song after another. A horrible disappoint is an understatement, "Power" just crushed the hopes of AOR fans. A handful warmed up to it, citing that bands have to move on and grow, but "Power" was so lacking of life that it was like a limp noodle left in the rain.

After the critical backlash, it seems that the core creators knew something had to change. James was even very outspoken in interviews about how the band had lost sight of the bigger picture and strayed to desolation instead of pastures of green. Writing and recording was done in record time and the band was cleaned out, leaving James Christian and the return of Gregg. Lanny Cordola had stated that melodic rock was boring now so he was out. And you know what? All the changes and tweaks have made a remarkable difference. "World Upside Down" completely erases the mistakes made on the last recording and brings back the HOL sound in a huge way. Then again, "Demons Down" was a success and it was sent off with only Christian and Giuffria remaining at the helm even then, so worries were really unnecessary.

New guitarist Jimi Bell is fantastic. No one is going to miss the Indian inspired noodlings of Lanny this time. He simply tears it up with style and substance, riffs afire and guitar scattered in every nook and cranny. And where did he come from? He's a Connecticut based guitarist that has recorded albums with Thunderhead, Metal Church's David Wayne, and Mike Vescera. His tendancies have been harder more metallic affairs, but his burning hot and attention snapping style seems perfect for this atmosphere.

The keys are pumping and the rhythm section is right on point, supplied by Jeff Kent and BJ Zampa. Another major concern was the voice of Christian himself. His pipes along with the signature keys of Giuffria helped make the band stand out among the crowds. Yet it seemed last time, and even on his solo disc, that he was slipping somewhat. Here he seems inspired again and his voice just soars like it used to back in the ye olde days of glory. To top it off, the disc is crisp and rich thanks to the production of Dennis Ward.

"Mask of Eternity" gets it going as an instrumental intro. Pompous and powerful with singing guitars that rip alongside the gigantic organ sound. An amazing way to open the cd.

Harkening them back to the fold of pure melodic rock with a biting edginess is "These Are the Times". The rhythm guitars are thick and chunky and James' voice sizzles right over it. A great uptempo rocker that will take you to heaven and back again. Great stuff and the perfect way to get things kicked off.

"All the Way to Heaven"
is another slab of melodic bliss. Taking a moodier turn, as HOL is known for, everything falls into place with perfection. For some reason this takes you to some of Malmsteen's stuff from "Eclipse" mixed with "Trilogy". That flavor is just lying underneath. Christian's vocals just bowl you over and the backup for him is fantastic, which includes his wife Robin Beck. The song has this wonderful addictive rhythm to it as well. Perhaps the best track of the album!

"Field of Shattered Dreams" has been on the playlist for awhile. A massively bold ballad that tips its hats to those who have served our country.

"I'm Free" could have been Saigon Kick from their "Water" disc mashed up with a sizable serving of Pretty Maids in their past few incarnations. Very modern styled with an aggressive bite especially in those guitars, and the vocals cut a little rougher too to match. A nice chorus keeps it pulled together.

Varying the record even more is "All the Pieces Falling", an emotive classy ballad that is littered with acoustic. This exposes the lead vocals even more, and its hard to spot any faults. Beautiful and well placed in the context of the album. You have to love the way the words "and we don't hear a sound" are just suspended with an echo applied for emphasis.

Rumbling with the rock gods is "Rock Bottom" that gives the album a swift boot in the butt. Swaggering attitude and a gritty feel make this a great break from the previous two tracks. And just check out the guitars here too, they cut and bleed with a edgy glory. I love the dirt and crackling tempo of this one, gives it a hefty personality.

"Million Miles" brings "World" into melodic rock territory once again. Huge vocals that match the gigantic impact of the chorus, and more guitars than you can shake a stick at. There is a plethora of keys to be found as well, adding to the larger than life sound. Everything you love about AOR is packed into this one killer track.

"Your Eyes" keys us down again. Power ballad mode is activated and it comes out in true House of Lords fashion. A passion play with easy to slide into verses that are relaxed despite the cutting backbone of the guitars. Yet another fantastic track that shows very little weaknesses. Definitely none in any of the deliveries from the musicians here. That, along with the songwriting, is top notch all the way.

Sprays of keys and a return to all things moody, drive "Ghost of Time" home with a fantastic feel. This one sizzles right in your blood and could end up being one of the songs of the year. Oh yes, it is that good. The band is absolutely on fire here and the material they have worked up is filled with delicate touches and a gorgeous, memorable chorus. It tugs at the heart and plays with the emotions, all wrapped up in this lovely midtempo track that milks every ounce of vulnerability from the listener. It must be said that its the guitar rhythms that really make the song, they ring out so clear and well, beautiful.

"My Generation" sees HOL turning on the modern antics once again. It reminds me of the same bands mentioned in the write up for "I'm Free". Throw in a splash of Def Leppard's contemporary stuff, think something off of "X" with a "Slang"-ish twist and you have it. Not bad by any means, they seem to know how to pump these out with the same high quality as the more typical HOL tunes, but it doesn't light the same kind of nostalgic fires the others do. A bit on the repetitive side too, especially the endless cycling of the title in the song. It has its moments though. The rhythm section just pounds the skull out and the axework is wicked good.

"S.O.S. In America" has some sadly disturbing lyrics, but there is hope at the end of such a hopeless seeming tunnel. Oh my, this does have the AOR magic sprinkled throughout. Lush harmonies supported by a crystal production make the recording sound like a million bucks. Hopelessly addictive, it sucks you right into its keyboard swirling world.

The finale is also the name of the album, and yes, it will turn your "World Upside Down". The positive, inspirational message and lovely female vocals, courtesy once again of Robin Beck, give it a softer feel. It is a tame piece that lets the emotions run the show. Delicate piano and an easy going tempo that builds rather gracefully, creating a gem of a ballad that will run through your veins for the future to come. What a loving sentiment and a light and fluffy way to polish off the album, and still gives moments for strong reflection upon love and how far we would seek to grasp it.

No doubt about it, this is one of the melodic rock cds of the year. With the exception of two tunes that could come off as being dodgy to some purists, with "My Generation" definitely being a lower grade of a song than the others - this is a monolithically powerhouse of a comeback for one of the genre's most beloved outfits. The new band members seem to embrace the material with zest, zeal and a down to earth, natural feeling for what made House of Lords held in such high regards in the first place. "World" is just swamped with exciting, memorable moments.

There are so many tracks here that beg for attention and adoration that it is difficult to just isolate a few, but "Ghost of Time" and "All the Way to Heaven" are just two of the many gems that are awaiting replay. Also, what a rarity it is to find a cd that seems to play all its cards just perfectly with so few missteps and such high class songwriting. Even the two lesser pieces have enough to redeem them and everything else is so well done that it becomes hard to tear yourself away, even on the umpteenth replay. It is a must have for all fans of melodic rock and anyone that is still burned by "The Power and the Myth" - don't worry, the *real* House of Lords is back and better than ever.

Written by Alanna
Tuesday, June 6, 2006
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Comment by ThraX (Member) - Sunday, June 11, 2006
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This is actually the best H.O.L. album ever . Any fan of melodic rock will love this!....Also any fans of talent will love this album , amazing drumming , guitaring....And James Christian is such an underrated vocalist it astounds me , He's amazing!!!!!!!.....For melodic rock a perfect 10/10

Posted by ThraX
Sunday, June 11, 2006

Comment by metalman (Anonymous) - Thursday, June 22, 2006
i found it boring to be honest


Comment by Carl R. (Anonymous) - Tuesday, June 27, 2006
The cd is AWESOME.Jimi Bell shreddddsss.The production is fantastic.Welcome back-we thought you did a Def Lep (Yeah)on us,in the previous cd or 2.Btw,"Meet the man" is a solid cd as well. Thanks huys for all the passion,that went into this cd.Tour the US please,Spain is a bit far o.k.

Comment by Tyk (Anonymous) - Saturday, February 24, 2007
I'm listening to this CD now for the first time and think it's easily HOL's best... very good rock album.

Review by Alanna

Released by
Frontiers - 2006

1. Mask of Eternity
2. These Are the Times
3. All the Way to Heaven
4. Field of Shattered Dreams
5. I'm Free
6. All the Pieces Falling
7. Rock Bottom
8. Million Miles
9. Your Eyes
10. Ghost of Time
11. My Generation
12. S.O.S. in America
13. World Upside Down

Supplied by Zink

Melodic Rock

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House of Lords - Official Website

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The Power and the Myth - (Alanna)

Come to My Kingdom - (Alanna)

Cartesian Dreams - (Alanna)

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