Five years and more than a few changes, Sweden's House of Shakira returns with their sixth album, simply HoS. Long time vocalist Andreas Eklund has been replaced by Mind's Eye frontman Andreas Novak. Additionally, a new rhythm section was recruited, consisting of Basse Blyberg (bass) and Martin Larsson (drums). Expect some classic HoS here: melodic hard rock of the AOR flavor, and maybe a bit edgier, but definitely not vanilla.
Above, House of Shakira: in the studio, 'no, turn the other knob, the other knob!'
Like previous HoS albums, a single spin isn't enough to grasp their version of European melodic hard rock. HoS will grow on you when you first accept the simple fact that they aren't attempting create a bunch of hook-laden, radio-friendly, and predictable tunes. Brick Wall Falling, Changes in Mind, and Fractions of Love rock a little harder, a little heavier. But you can still find the accessibility in the latter's refrain and melody. You'll find more of the rock spirit, groove, and mainstream hook in songs like Out of My Head (though this grittier as well), All Aboard, Voice in the Void, and the kickin' Midnight Hunger. Ultimately there's a diversity across this entire album that dismisses any sense of mundane sameness. Sometimes the variation shows up within a song, Zodiac Mania by example. Sound musicianship and songwriting are the culprits for this fine listening experience.
HoS is a welcome return to form for House of Shakira. Here's a strong and diverse album of edgier melodic hard rock from a fine band. Recommended.