The first review in a series dedicated to forgotten classics of the genre
House of Lords were the first act signed to Gene Simmons’ Simmons Records imprint and released their self-titled debut in 1988. The Kiss singer-bassist’s relationship with HOL keyboardist Gregg Giuffria dates back to the ‘70s when the latter was a member of Angel. Simmons discovered Giuffria's proto-hair metal act and got them signed to Casablanca Records. The shared history between the two men made for a great working relationship on House of Lords; the album is a fine, albeit forgotten platter from the heady days of the hair-metal revolution. Simmons serves as executive producer on the disc.
“Pleasure Palace” kicks the album off in a regal style befitting the House of Lords name. An extended keyboard intro announces the major role Giuffria plays in this quintet, while guitarist Lanny Cordola vies with him for primacy by squeezing nasty pinch harmonics out of his axe during the tune’s catchy refrain. The most overtly commercial moment on House of Lords follows with “I Wanna Be Loved.” A natural choice for a single, this song boasts a huge, vocally driven “woah, woah, woah-a-woah” chorus and verses in the Whitesnake vein, with frontman James Christian at his sultry best.
House of Lords is dominated by two types of songs: mid-tempo keyboard-driven numbers that show off the band’s dramatic instincts and go-for-the-throat shred fests that spotlight Cordola’s inspired fretsmanship. In the former category we have slower, deeply thespian numbers like “Edge of Your Life,” “Love Don’t Lie” and “Jealous Hearts.” Falling into the latter group are relentless riffers such as “Slip of the Tongue” (Whitesnake anyone?!) and “Lookin’ for Strange,” which features a boozy, barroom piano intro that can’t obscure the fact that it’s the hardest-rocking track on the disc.
Other album highlights include two amazingly anthemic tunes: “Under Blues Skies” and “Call My Name.” In both theme and sound, “Under Blue Skies” loosely fits with Van Halen’s “Dreams” and Steve Stevens’ “Top Gun Anthem” in a sort of triumvirate of ‘80s rockers written about the joys of flight and other uplifting experiences.