House Of Lords — Saints & Sinners (Frontiers)

Saints alive! James Christian’s only gone and done it again.

Just two years after we lauded the old school AOR triumph that was New World – New Eyes, one of melodic rock’s true masters has repeated the trick.

Saints & Sinners sizzles with supreme songwriting.

It’s a keys-driven joyride towards a reassuringly familiar final destination.

And like its pin-sharp predecessor, a red-hot record unashamedly celebrates the pomp of the band’s late 80s/early 90s heyday. 

Christian’s canny hook-up with top tinkler Mark Mangold underpins an album so slick it’ll slide into your subconscious in an instant.

There are more hooks than an anglers’ annual convention.

And the riffs fly off Jimi Bell’s guitar like pick-fuelled fighter jets.

Then there’s honey tongued AOR hero Christian.

At a time when so many of his higher profile peers are struggling to maintain consistency, King James’ crowning glory is his enduring quality.

It’s 33 years since House Of Lords’ self-titled debut shook things up on planet AOR.

New World – New Eyes emerged as that storied album’s natural successor.

But Saints & Sinners comfortably commands a podium place in Christian’s celebrated canon.

Frontiers is home to the cream of the melodic rock crop.

But House Of Lords are one of the standout aces in the label’s stacked pack.

Saints & Sinners is another bona fide winner.

And when it comes to the unifying power of polished AOR, Christian’s faith is unwavering.

Journey towards AOR heaven

When a record’s reference points include peak Leppard, joyous Journey and bad-ass Bad English it’s clear something special’s happening.

Saints & Sinners has all the hallmarks of classic House Of Lords.

But Christian has never been shy when it comes to pinching the best bits from his heroes and peers.

Both House Of The Lord (Mangold’s ultimate triumph?) and Roll Like Thunder lean on majestically layered Lepps-inspired vocal harmonies.

The latter’s far less subtle but the former packs a powerful, potent punch.

Mistress Of The Dark’s got that bellowing, swaggering Bad English vibe that catapulted the John Waite-fronted supergroup’s self-titled debut towards the upper echelons of the AOR scene.

And Neal Schon’s signature sound — a staple of Journey, Bad English and more — is never far away as Christian and Bell trade delicious licks.

Then there’s the Zeppelin-inspired groove at the heart of Razzle Dazzle.

A brash, bluesy beast of a track is quite brilliant.

And there’s more Page-turning axe work driving consummate companion piece Takin My Heart Back.

Piano-led ballad Avalanche is rich in promise.

But the anticipated snowball effect never quite materialises as a frustrating tune fails to deliver.

It’s a rare wrong turn on the otherwise superior Saints & Sinners.

House Of Lords is the home for ageless AOR.

And the door’s always open.