The Lords of the New Church

Hang On

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AllMusic Review by

First things first. The millennial reincarnation of the Lords cannot be compared with its decades-dead counterpart. True, founder members Brian James and Dave Tregunna are once again on board; true, too, vocalist Adam Becvare is unquestionably cut in the old Stiv Bators mold, and is never so comfortable as when dropping into a conspiratorial whisper. But the opening "Heaven Stepped Down" punches the group into its own very clear identity -- that is, atmospheric hard rock layered in brittle guitars and pushy hooks -- and if you overlook all the baggage that the band name comes packing, it's more than an eye-opening intro. Neither does the remainder of the album let the side down. James pulls out all his own old songwriting tricks for the occasion -- and remember, this is the man who wrote "New Rose," "Fan Club," "New Church," and "World Without End," four of the greatest songs in the entire punk-and-thereafter lexicon. This time, listeners get "Hallucination," with its lunatic electronics and ferociously bellowed vocals; "Where Are You Now," riding a volley of cataclysmic guitar shards; the intriguing, balladic lope of "Savior Self"; and the ruthless drive of "Hashashin." All bear testament to the sheer power and confidence of the band, while the closing "Paint the Town Red" isn't simply these new Lords' pièce de résistance, its percolating drums and tomahawk chimes stack up alongside many of the original group's most heroic chants. Hang On isn't perfect -- the production is a little murky, and the shared vocal lines (Adam Becvare is joined by the coarser-toned StevenMarque) could have been handled better. But still, these new Lords have an energy and vision ideally in keeping with that of their predecessors, and the New Church is still standing firm.