Much to the relief of longtime followers, House Of Lords has not fallen into a state of disrepair, although there was reason to believe it might given the 2004 departure of founder and keyboard wizard Gregg Giuffria.

Having undergone a series of substantial lineup renovations over the years, this melodic-metal fortress is still standing, thanks to the efforts of singer James Christian, the sole remaining original member. Those who lost track of House Of Lords when the bulldozers of grunge almost plowed pop metal completely under will still recognize the place.

Newer releases such 2006′s World Upside Down, 2008′s Come to My Kingdom and 2011′s Big Money typically balanced the competing forces of gleaming, silvery keyboard rushes, big choruses and heavier, complex guitar constructions, all while making grand melodic gestures and occasionally succumbing to the temptation of throwing in a tender, if a bit treacly, power ballad or two. This is what Precious Metal, House of Lords’ latest, is made of as well.

Forever immersed in the sounds and stylistic blandness of ’80s AOR, House Of Lords, nevertheless, charges into Precious Metal with the galloping “Battle,” where sharp-edged synthesizers flash like swords and Christian’s forceful wail urges the troops on.”Epic” is a thrilling chase, a euphoric rush of power metal that aims for the dizzying heights of Europe, while “Permission to Die” and “Swimmin’ With The Sharks” are made of stronger, infectious grooves and driving rhythms, and “I’m Breakin’ Free” is a slightly bitter pop-metal kiss-off that Warrant wouldn’t have kicked out of bed.

Filled with fine, if cliched, sentiments about never wasting one single breath of life, the overly earnest “Live Every Day (Like It’s the Last)” could have been that breakthrough single House Of Lords was looking for in the ’80s, but the title track’s exploration of male-female relationship dynamics is superficial at best, and the music is hopelessly melodramatic. Still, even if songs like “Raw” tend to fall apart after powerful intros and never fully coalesce into anything truly memorable, Precious Metal is well-produced, with a clutch of bracing, electrically charged riffs, various keyboard spells and impassioned singing carrying the day.
Label: Frontiers Records