Released 27 January 2012 on Lion Music

Arguably one of melodic rocks best bands returns with their first album of new material since 2007.  During this time House of Shakira has undergone somewhat of a line-up change with a new rhythm section of Basse Blyberg (bass) and Martin Larsson (drums). But perhaps the most risky change was that of the lead vocalist position.  Replacing the well respected Andreas Eklund is thankfully another gem of a vocalist in Andreas Novak (ex Mind’s Eye and solo).

Any preconceived concerns about the new line-up are quickly dissolved with opening brace of “Brick Wall Falling” and “Changes In My Mind”.  House of Shakira are definitely back with one hell of a wallop, powerful yet full of melodic charm these two tracks represent perhaps the most urgent tracks the band have produced in years.  The slightly heavier/darker edge to much of the music on offer fits well with Novak’s confident vocals which have a nice mix of emotion and strident delivery.  Guitarists Mats Hallstensson and Anders Lundstrom have never been a guitar tag team short of class but here they sound pumped through a succession of strong riff hooks and tasty lead work.

That’s not to say the bands classic sound is missing for its here in most tracks just delivered a little different – dare we say with more enthusiasm?  The production is strong, live sounding, few overdubs and probably represents the bands acclaimed live show well.  It responds nicely to being pumped through a decent hi-fi or headphones at high volumes.

Melodic rock anthems are well catered for in chest thumpers like “Carry My Load”, the radio sheen of “Fractions Of Love” (Def Leppard would kill for a track like this in 2012), “I’ll Be Gone”, “Out Of My Head” and “Voice In The Void” where the bands mix of commerciality and rocking delivery is all present and correct with some of the best vocal and backing vocal hooks you most likely will hear in 2012.

Novak’s arrival also sees the band move into some newer territory as heard on “All Aboard!” and “Midnight Hunger” which rock profusely with the band sounding like they have been let off the leash, it’s a fun new edge to the bands output and works nicely.

Ballads are kept to a minimum on “HoS” with “Lost In Transition” being the only number that could fall under such a banner, whilst mid-tempo country-ish waters are tread in “What Goes Around” with its killer chorus.

Overall, “HoS” marks a fine return from one of the best melodic rock bands going.  This the sound of a band revitalised and perhaps with a point to prove in 2012.  Fans of honest hard rock with a strong dose of melody are well advised to check this out pronto.  A contender for melodic rock album of the year already.

Rating – 95%


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