Album Review :
House of Heroes - Smoke EP

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Artist: House of Heroes
Title: Smoke EP
Label: Independent
Release Date: 08/19/14
Reviewer: Scott Swan

Tracklisting:

  1. Bottle Rocket
  2. The Worst Kind of gods
  3. Wake Up Screaming
  4. A Fire Only We Know
  5. Satisfied
  6. Infinite

 

I was forever hooked on House of Heroes the first time I listen to the epic “The End is Not the End.”  Yep, I wanted everyone to listen to this innovative rock record and I just could not understand why this band wasn’t a household name for any and all music lovers. I mean, they could sing in amazing four part harmony, yet still rock with the best of them. But, maybe most of all, it was the story telling. The World War II themed concept that just took me to another place and time, and still does every time I listen to it.

So, fast forward six years and three albums later, the band has decided to go the independent route, leaving their long time label, Gotee Records. Then, they announced their IndieGoGo campaign to create a new, full length concept album. I must admit, that although I did enjoy their other albums (especially Suburba in 2010), TEINTE set such a high standard that I almost felt bad for any releases after. So, needless to say, I am looking forward to what the band comes up with on the upcoming concept piece. But for now, they have given us something to get us by, the new EP “Smoke.”

I was curious as to what direction the new EP’s sound was going to go. Would the band attempt to recapture that TEINTE sound, or would they continue on with the more anthem-like tunes of records like Cold Hard Want (2013)? Either way, I would probably be on board, but in all honesty, I was kind of hoping for the former rather than the latter. The first tune, “Bottle Rocket,” struck me as something that captures a little bit of the sound from both of those records. Verses driven by a snare drum cadence, with a chorus that breaks into some harmonizing vocals and catchy guitar work. An opener sure to please any fan of the band, bringing in elements that would not be unfamiliar to anyone acquainted with their previous work.

“The Worse Kind of gods” is a rocker that really brings home the point about trusting too much in yourself instead of God. Teaching us that not even our own hearts are to be totally relied on; “Hey, lets get this one thing right/no one is safe without love, grace and light/Alone we are the worst kinds of gods/slaves to a selfish heart/that always wants.” This track is a standout for me. The lyrics hit home in a subtle way, yet still sinks in to a listener without being overly pretentious. I think that sort of describes HoH’s lyrical style altogether: subtly spiritual.

“Wake Up Screaming” is a softer offering featuring Tim Skipper at his best. Thematically painting a picture of a man prayerfully examining his life and wondering if he is making (or will make) the right decisions in life. As the chorus bellows, “I don’t wanna wake up screaming when it’s too late/Searching for long lost meaning, I gave away/I don’t want to wake up screaming, so don’t let me fall, fall asleep on you.” Followed by the even paced “A Fire Only We Know,” a mellow ballad that has the sound of a cool breeze on a hot Indiana summer, crisp and refreshing.

“Satisfied” is a tune that has really grown on me. Lyrically focusing on being content with who you are and in your relationship with Christ during whatever circumstance you find yourself in, whether in plenty or want, reminding me of Philippians 4:11. This track also features some classic HoH harmonies that the band just seems to be able to integrate at the perfect times. The closer, “Infinite” is a song that seems to look back at the past, while still acknowledging the fact that we do have infinite souls that will carry on. I loved the whiny guitar that comes on toward the middle of the song, it nicely sets the mood of the tune.

Overall: I can say for certain that this EP was in no way a disappointment. It was able to successfully capture elements that are unmistakably HoH, while still pushing the band forward into new territory. Also, I felt the songs carried some strong, meaty themes, that will leave plenty of food for thought. If you somehow are not familiar with this band, this EP will be a great introduction for you, and please run (don’t walk) to wherever you purchase music and acquire their previous stuff. If you are old fans anxiously awaiting what they are coming up with next, rest assured this EP should easily “satisfy” all your cravings. Until the next LP….

 

RIYL: The Wedding, The Almost, Relient K

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