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Frontiers (2015)
Rating: 9/10

I haven’t got a clue as to why melodic hard rockers House Of Lords decided to shoot the video for their song ‘Go To Hell’ in a warehouse of stacked pallets and cardboard boxes, but not even this strange choice of locations can detract from the fact that Indestructible is another fine opus from these guys.

I recall when I first purchased the Californian band’s self-titled debut in 1988, and was surprised by the weight. For me, House Of Lords had always been fluffed up as one of those dodgy “hair” bands. Upon reflection, they were way too cool for that school of thought, especially when two years later their fantastic 1990 Sahara platter followed. Of course, in spite of the rollicking 1992 record Demons Down, the band went the way of so many other acts affected by the horrid grunge invasion.

Eight years later, House Of Lords – in spite of several legal issues – reformed, but it would be another four years before the band released its fourth album in the shape of 2004’s The Power And The Myth. Since then, however, House Of Lords just hasn’t looked back. Indestructible seems a rather fitting title for a band which has now reached its tenth studio album, the mercurial James Christian once again at the helm of this persistent ship and backed by the crew of Jimi Bell (guitars), Chris McCarvill (bass) and B.J. Zampa (drums)

Indestructible serves up 11 choice cuts, beginning with the aforementioned ‘Go To Hell’ which features a driving riff, Christian’s darkly-tinged harmonies and a slamming drum. In other words, House Of Lords are very much happy to pay homage to that 80s style of melodic rock, but the savage guitar tone is still very much of contemporary design. Hell, these guys are taking the glammy grit and buzz of unknown cult faves Beautiful Creatures and marrying it with enough 80s-styled pomp to win every time.

How can one not drown in the all-round accessibility of this track, but then be fried by the killer leads which take us into that breath-taking chorus? It’s proof that bands of this ilk should never have buckled under the pressure of that alternative early 90s rock scene, but it’s also proof that everything runs in cycles. The 00s and beyond were just made for these bands, even if the general vibe cannot match the hysteria of that 80s scene.

Indestructible doesn’t mess around, bringing with it weight, and subtle passion in equal doses. The latter quality is evident with the sweeping ‘Call My Bluff’ which boasts soulful vocals and is typically fluffy by design, bringing to mind the floating quality of Def Leppard, particularly with its chorus. Elsewhere though, House Of Lords bring plenty of metal to the table too. The title track is a high energy slab of pomp, perfectly combining those high-octane melodies with that essence of softness. For me, House Of Lords has always been masters of such magical combinations; the sort of act – alongside, say, Harem Scarem or the lesser known Law And Order – who somehow and maybe unintentionally loiter on the boundaries of progressive or, dare I say it, alternative chimes, and yet have one foot firmly in that melodic metal mould.

Of course, no House Of Lords platter would be complete without a stirring ballad. ‘We Will Always Be One’ certainly doesn’t sit out of place alongside the hotter climes of ‘100mph’ and ‘Die To Tell’, which showcase the band’s edgier side. But all those who mocked the so-called wetness of such hard rock ballads in the 80s will surely find themselves drowning in the extravagant landscapes of the aforementioned ‘We Will Always Be One’ and other softer edged tunes such as ‘Pillar Of Salt’.

Upon reflection, House Of Lords should be commended once again; not just for issuing another splendid opus of varying layers, but for keeping the same line-up for nigh on a decade. That stability shines through once again, bringing with it a mix of soul, swagger and sugar-coated solidity.

Indestructible is further proof that none of the great pretenders of the modern age can compete with the veterans of the scene. Forget the nonsensical aping of the 80s that seems to be doing the rounds in a suffocating manner and dive into the latest offering from a band who were there when it all started and have continued to progress wonderfully. Indestructible maybe, but irresistible most definitely.

Neil Arnold

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