HOUSE OF LORDS – World Upside Down

HOUSE OF LORDS - World Upside Down


Frontiers Records
Release date: May 19, 2006

User Review
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The House of Lords (HoL) story might be old news for some, but their slightly anguished history had a beginning that was full of high expectations for all in the Hard Rock community in the late 80s. In 1988, HoL was formed by ex-Giuffria members — keyboardist Gregg Giuffria (Angel) and bassist Chuck Wright (best known for being in Quiet Riot back then). They brought in ex-Alice Cooper drummer Ken Mary, added the highly respectable Lanny Cordola on guitars, and melodic vocalist James Christian. It seemed like the makings of a “supergroup,” and they eventually garnered the attention of Kiss’ Gene Simmons, which resulted in the band signing a record deal with Simmons’ personally owned label. What ensued was a dynamic debut release that to this day still goes down as a Melodic Rock gem of the 80s. Sadly, it was the only House of Lords release that contained the original lineup, even though they came really, really close in 2000 until Gregg Giuffria backed out of the recording of The Power And The Myth at the last minute. The newly reformed band decided on a reunion “tour” in 2005, which only entailed a total of two shows. That was enough to spark Christian to reform HoL with the help of Gregg Giuffria. Careful HoL fans, don’t get overly excited and hurt yourself as Giuffria is only credited with “Keyboard Productions” on this new release, World Upside Down. Surprisingly, Christian has returned with an all-new band … the question is, can HoL fans live with a lineup that has turned the HoL world “Upside Down”?

First to address the new lineup: Jimi Bell on guitar, B. J. Zampa on drums, and Jeff Kent on bass and keyboards … first look at this lineup might leave some fans asking, “Who are these guys?” After giving this disc a few spins, you’re not going to care about past histories and credentials, because these guys came, played, and created a thirteen track opus, which is potentially the Top 2006 Melodic Hard Rock release.

Right from the start is a 1:45 musical intro entitled “Mask Of Eternity,” where you’ll hear Operatic organ music and swear Giuffria is back in the fold. Not necessarily “hands on,” but throughout it sounds like his experienced musicianship has been involved. The airy keyboards are then cut by a swath of a buzz saw guitar by Bell … this is the point when a smirk should appear on all HoL fans’ faces. This leads into the multi-layered/phased chorus by Christian during the opening of the excellent “These Are The Times.” Filled with melody, guitar crunches (riffs akin to Bell’s buddy Zakk Wylde), and subtle pomp keyboards all coming together to make this one a total winner. This track should also cast aside any doubts that Jimi Bell is more than a competent replacement for Cordola, Aldrich, and Chick on guitar, and he ends up delivering some of the heaviest guitars to ever grace a HoL release! “I’m Free,” “Rock Bottom,” and “My Generation” all fit the same mold, and are all additional clear-cut winners.

The “down” portion of this release is the fact that the songwriting and tempo on too many of these tracks (four out of thirteen total) have been turned down to the point of treading too close to, or being, ballads. “Field of Shattered Dreams,” “All The Pieces Falling,” “Your Eyes,” and “World Upside Down” fall into this category and they are sandwiched between some of the Rockers. Christian has always had a soft spot for the touching aspects of Rock (e.g., his solo work Meet The Man). Of course, Meet The Man didn’t have the scorching leads by Bell, which makes some of these slower tracks more appealing.

Other tracks are kicked up a slight notch, with a little less “crunch,” to the point of being Melodic Rockers. These don’t have the punch of tracks like the aforementioned “These Are The Times,” etc., but end up being very enjoyable. “All The Way To Heaven,” “Ghost Of Time,” and “SOS” are all perfect examples … they display some nuances of slower tempo ballads, but Bell’s “crunch” and scorching leads, coupled with Kent’s pompous keyboard lines, lift them up from being too mellow.

Bottom line, even with the occasional break in the action via the mellower moments, this HoL release stands out as the finest from start to finish … there’s plenty to like here! Christian, who sounds as good as ever on this release, has been quoted as saying, “This lineup is here to stay and this is only the beginning of many more great records from us. The music speaks for itself.” HoL fans all over the globe have to hope that James is a man of his word. If so, this incarnation of HoL could wind up being one hell of an exciting chapter in the House Of Lords auto-biography.


James Christian – Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Production
Jeff Kent – Bass, Keyboards, Background Vocals
Jimi Bell – Guitar
B. J. Zampa – Drums
Gregg Giuffria – Keyboard Productions


  • Scott Jeslis

    Scott is one of the partners at Metal Express Radio. He handles a lot of Metal Express Radio's public relations, screening of new music and radio scheduling. On occasion, he also does reviews and interviews. He has been a proud member of the Metal Express Radio crew since 2004.

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