Lion Music
Release date: June 25, 2004

User Review
0/10 (0 votes)

“Ladies and Gentlemen, please take your seats and fasten your seat belts. As always, all seats are First Class, so relax and enjoy your trip.” With their fourth studio release, House of Shakira take flight with songs such as “Landing,” “Celebration Bound,” and “Black and Blue Skies,” leading one to think about traveling with their lyrical content, as well as the force in which these songs take you on a rock ‘n’ roll journey.

From the opening track, “Ain’t Your Crowd,” a song that speaks about individuality, the sound here is far from what is typically being heard on radio and music video stations around the globe. Borrowing from Hard Rock bands of the late 80’s and 90’s like Damn Yankees, Hurricane, The Scorpions, Hardline, etc., House of Shakira doesn’t exactly break new ground with this release, but they do offer a modern take on a classic theme. First Class takes the original formula for rock ‘n’ roll and raises the bar with solid songwriting and exceptional musicianship. Painting lyrical landscapes their predecessors shied away from, House of Shakira chooses not to fall back on the trite and generic stand byes, and instead delivers a unique and fresh musical/lyrical product in this release.

The aforementioned “Ain’t Your Crowd,” “Creep,” and “Black Barn” are obvious single choices; and “Black and Blue Skies” captures that “wave your lighters in the air” sound … as good as any ballad from the 80’s and 90’s. So much so, in fact, it could become the anthem rock classic that “No More Words” was for Extreme and “To Be with You” was for Mr. Big.

Besides quality songwriting, First Class really showcases the abilities of the musicians without compromising the simplicity of the songs. Anders Lundstrom and Mats Hallstensson both give their guitars ample room to be heard, from crisp and clean ringing acoustical tones to down and grungy rock’ n’ roll. There’s some nice, dirty crunching with a funky vibe on the ninth track, “Landing,” that just gets your backbone shaking. Per Schelander really hooks the listener into this album with his exciting yet unobtrusive bass lines. In some songs, Per shows he can hang back and just fatten up the song with some impressive low-end bass, and he also shows he can carry a track too, like in the song “You Are.” Schelander can also make you stand up and take notice with his unison tap solo on “Uncontrolled.” Of course, the icing on the cake is the amazing voice of Andreas Eklund. Andreas is reminiscent of Jimi Jamison (Survivor), and Tommy Shaw (Styx, Damn Yankees); just a clear and powerful voice that hits all the right notes in the right key. And lest we forget, drummer Tony Anderson holds the whole thing together with his solid beats and big fills.

The only downside to the CD is that despite all of the maturity in ability, a lot of the songs seem to fall just short of hitting the mark dead-on. When you put this album on, you’ll sing along with it from start to finish, but after it’s over, it’s hard to recall that “just-can’t-shake-it melody” or “big hook,” because both never completely materialize. On the other hand, maybe that was intentional. After listening to First Class, you’ll still be hungry and want to hear more by House of Shakira … and that certainly can’t be a bad thing!


  • Jeremy Juliano

    Jeremy was a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio. He's been involved with and has been following the Metal scene since the early 1980’s. He started out his Metal journey with heavy doses of Maiden, Accept, and Saxon. And in recent years, he has enjoyed the new age of Metal with bands like Hammerfall, Edguy, and Nightwish, to name a few.

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