On their latest release, Big Money, House of Lords reminds us yet again what an underrated band they are. Their last release (2009’s Cartesian Dreams) was so grand that it ranked on my top ten hard rock records of the year list (no easy feat). With singer James Christian still sounding magnificent on the microphone and his current bandmates following suit on their respective instruments, House of Lords prove once again that they are a force to be reckoned with.
Big Money opens with the hard rocking title track that immediate reminds the listener of why House of Lords is such a great band. Packed with strong guitar riffs, a heavy handed drum beat by B.J. Zampa, and some solid vocals by James Christian, “Big Money” is as strong an opener for a record as they come. James Christian can still pack a wallop when singing a tune. His voice sounds as magnificent today as it did back in 1989 when the band debuted. Father time has been very kind to James Christian’s voice.
Proving they can still belt out a ballad with the best of them, House of Lords included “The Next Time I Hold You,” on this record. A powerful love-fest of a song, cigarette lighters will be out in full force if the band decides to play this in concert. House of Lords was kind enough to remind us all what a power ballad should sound like and delivered a superb one in “The Next Time I Hold You.” With exceptional vocals, a solid guitar solo, and a classic arrangement, this is a fantastic ballad and one of the best tracks on the disc.
Synthesizers dominate the music throughout Big Money, making it sound like a harder edged Europe. While House of Lords has always had keyboards in their music, I can’t recall an album where they dominated the landscape of the music as much as they do on Big Money. The added element doesn’t take away from the music, but the disc may have benefited from more guitar solos and less synth work. There are areas on the record screaming for a guitar solo, only to be filled in by some keyboards. That’s not to take away from the great work that keyboardist Jeff Kent has done, but some more solos from Jimi Bell would have helped on certain songs.
Following the mantra of “always leave them wanting more,” House of Lords waited for the final track of the disc to unleash their best song. “Blood” is a hard rocking masterpiece that includes outstanding vocals, a ripping guitar solo, and arena pounding drums. The synthesizers were reduced to a background rhythm section, making “Blood” a much heavier song than most of the album.
Overall, House of Lords have produced another solid record that is worth seeking out and adding to your collection. With any luck, we may see this band on some of the festival bills in 2012. A stop at M3 would be real nice! With new music to support, I suppose that anything is possible.
Rating: Out of 10
- Big Money
- One Man Down
- First To Cry
- Someday When
- Livin’ In A Dream World
- The Next Time I Hold You
- Run For Your Life
- Once Twice
House Of Lords Is:
James Christian – Lead Vocals, Guitar
Jimi Bell – Guitar
Chris McCarvill – Bass Guitar
B. J. Zampa – Drums
Jeff Kent – Keyboards
I first heard of singer Ted Bullet in the band Son of a Bitch featuring the former members of Saxon. I liked that band’s release Victim You so much that it was only natural for me to seek out Ted’s other work. When I saw that Thunderhead’s release Ugly Side also had current House of Lords members, B.J. Zampa and Jimi Bell, it was pretty much a no- brainer. I had to have this CD.
Much to my surprise,Thunderhead put out their first disc back in 1989, but I never found out about the guys until long after the breakup.
Ugly Side is Thunderhead’s sixth and final release, and judging from the tunes on this CD. The band went out the way they came in, rocking hard!
Let me start off by saying that Jimi Bell’s guitar work on this CD is phenomenal. If you are a fan of virtuoso type of players, you need to listen to him cut loose on Ugly Side. This disc is filled with a ton of solos and guitar noodling that will keep a lot of rockers happy.
To me, Ted Bullet’s vocals are an acquired taste, but I like them a lot. He has a raspy voice that reminds a little of original AC/DC singer Dave Evans.
Ugly Side starts off with a high speed rocker, “Liar”. There are a some really cool guitar riffs on this song!
“Rock Bottom” reminds me a lot of the House of Lords song with the same name. The lyrics are different, but the chorus
is practically the same. It is a great song nonetheless.
“Blood” is a killer balladesque tune that transforms itself into a high octane rocker, and then back again. Cool tune!
Jimi Bell shows off his guitar wizardry once more on “Pull the Plug”. I don’t really care for the lyrics on this song all that much, but Bell’s guitar work makes it required listening anyway.
“High and Don’t Care” is an acoustic based instrumental. The guitar playing is good, but it doesn’t really add anything to Ugly Side.
The album picks the pace back up with the rocker “35 Minutes” and doesn’t let up again.
Ugly Side is a solid effort from Thunderhead and worth checking out.
Copies of this CD are available for sale at this link. Get it and play it loud! You won’t be disappointed.
Rating: Out of 10
- Rock Bottom
- Footsteps Of Fear
- Pull The Plug
- Ugly Side
- High And Don’t Care
- Pieces Of Pain
- 35 Minutes
- Got 2 End It
- A Real Hard Time
Ted Bullet – Vocals/Guitar
Jimi Bell – Guitars
Mark Franco – Bass
B.J. Zampa – Drums