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Led Zeppelin - Houses Of The Holy CD (album) cover


Led Zeppelin


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3.91 | 868 ratings

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Queen By-Tor
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Over the hills and far away from IV

Zeppelin's fifth album, Houses Of The Holy is a completely different beast from the albums released by the band before this point. While there's a lot of the band's old sound still kicking around, this one is more refined and more slick than their previous albums. It wasn't going to be an easy task following up their highest acclaimed album, IV (or Zoso, or Runes or whatever you want to call it), the band seemed to ave done well and produced what is likely their best hard rock album - maybe not the most proggy, but that's okay. The pomp, pseudo-epics may not be kicking around, but we still have some slickly written and recorded tunes that do not easily let down - including some of the Zep's best known tunes.

No mercy right off the bat, and the album is going to continue on that way. The Song Remains The Same has Plant's voice at it's highest, sometimes reminiscent of Queen's Brighton Rock (which would come out a year later, but still...) we're hit with some great hard rock. Page does what he does best and provides the riffs which Zep rides on so well while the rhythm section simply pounds along underneath. Also right off the bat a precedent is set for the album that this isn't going to be filled with particularly catchy tunes, most of them relying on a refrain rather than a chorus and most of the memorable parts come in well thought out melodies than a repeated hook. But hey, Zep's been great with that all along, no? Other heavier songs on the album include the supposedly improvised (lyrically) The Crunge with it's silly sections (''have you seen the bridge?''), and the dark No Quarter - this one more proggy thanks to it's speed and length.

Still it wouldn't be Zep without the pure rock tunes. There's a lot of those on this album, including (as previously mentioned) soe of the band's best known tunes. Over The Hills And Far Away is a calm tune with another excellent bunch of riffs from Page. Plant's voice comes in to bring in some great melodies coupled with Page's already great guitar. More great riffs come out of the later half of the album such as the wonderful Dancing Days (my personal favorite Zep song coupled with The Rover from Physical Graffiti). D'Yer Mak'er is another classic with it's smooth riff almost dipping into R&B territory, Plant provides some odd but fun vocals on this one to make for another great tune. The Ocean has yet another classic riff and some more shouting by Plant, a little bit lower in tone this time.

Of course, we can't be forgetting the longest and prettiest song on the album. Maybe not prog (although it is about 7.5 minutes), but still a wonderful piece. The Rain Song is the slowest tune on the albu with some more emotional and uplifting guitaring from Page. This song is best listened to on a cool night in the fall - absolutely wonderful and peaceful, just gorgeous. The instrumental sections are played with orchestration coming into the background to make for a very, very happy, yet slow sounding piece. One of Zep's best tunes.

For me personally, this album deserves a five star rating - but nostalgia really shouldn't take over the mark here. This may be a masterpiece by Zep, but it's not essential to every Prog collection. Every rock colleciton? Yes - but as a prog album this one is going to get a high 4. Absolutely wonderful hard rock with a slight progressive lean. Recommended to anyone who likes Led Zeppelin or 70s hard rock in any way, shape or form.

Queen By-Tor | 4/5 |


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