Known for their creativity, House of Heroes has always taken pride in their ability to blend the experimental and the quirky into hooky, classic-rock-influenced anthems. But with Cold Hard Want, the band has taken the gloves off. It is as immediate, as candid, and as vulnerable as anything the Switchfoots and Anberlins of the world have released to date.
"It takes a lot of cold hard want to just persevere and continue believing in rock n' roll. And if it is dead and we're just fools on the sinking ship, that's fine. We're happy to go out that way." -Tim Skipper, House of Heroes
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You'll Cold-Hard-Want This in Your Collection| Posted August 13, 2012
House of Heroes has quietly been building up a loyal fan base in the Christian music scene over the past few years, seemingly getting a little bigger with each release. While I always liked their music since I first heard them in 2008, I never really understood the rabid critical praise that every album received. But that's starting to change. Suffice it to say, House of Heroes is definitely creeping their way up my list of favorites.
In 2008, the band released what is arguably one of last decade's legendary albums, The End is Not the End, and followed it up with the more poppy Suburba two years later.
Now, the band offers Cold Hard Want, and as is the case with most bands who put out career-defining albums, it'll immediately be weighed against its predecessors. I feel it's unfair to stack everything the band does against their "best" album. Cold Hard Want can stand on its own merits, even if it may not be the defining release of the band's career.
The album offers a decent mix of rock, ballads, and even a few HoH surprises. One of these surprises comes right out of the gate, with the intro a cappella track, "A Man Who's Not Afraid." It's a charming and nostalgic little track. And that feeling is repeated towards the end of the album with the similar, "Curtains."
House of Heroes brings the rock in several tracks. "Out My Way" just feels like a House of Heroes song from beginning to end, if you know what I mean. It's like, you can hear any note of any part of the song and you'll know its House of Heroes. The track sets the way for the varied collection of rockers from the intense fun track "Dance (Blow it all Away)" to the energizing "Remember The Empire" to the passionate lead-single "Touch This Light." All of these songs are strong album highlights and are destined to get fans moving at rock arenas across the country.
Of course, House of Heroes has never been the type to exclude ballads from any release. Sure enough, there are more than a fair share of ballads and pop tracks in this release. "We Were Giants" and "Stay" seem like tracks right out of Suburba while "The Cop" draws comparisons to "By Your Side" from The End… with its acoustic presentation. "Angels of Night" stands by itself as a memorable slower track.
All of these great tracks build to what has now become a sort of staple for the band, the slow-building, epic closing track. Sure enough, "I Am A Symbol" starts off haunting and slow and builds into a rousing number with a memorable choral bridge that sends the album off in style.
Lyrically, the band is as strong as ever, albeit staying comfortably within themes that they've explored before. "Comfort Trap" is a classic signature HoH commentary on how living for the world can interfere with God's plan for our lives: "A house and a wife and two and a half / I lost my dream in the comfort trap / I told my God his will could wait / I've got one foot in a rich man's grave."
The band also has its nostalgic track looking back at the past in "We Were Giants" that declares: "I remember how it used to be / We had a confidence, a certainty / Like we were in the graces permanently."
"Out My Way" proudly stands up for living for the moment and not letting life's opportunities pass you by: "If you add up all the risks not taken they're all misses / Think I'd rather live with the knock down drag outs and the stitches."
"Touch This Light" offers almost worshipful thanks to God for lifting us up out of our fears: "When I feel crushed underneath the weight / Cursing every step as I tow the line / I say my prayers to a rebel king / Your light shines / Before I'm caught up in it." The lyrical cleverness never dies down. Such strong lyrics help set this release among the best of the year so far.
House of Heroes has released another solid album from start to finish. There's not a bad track in the bunch. Every song comes with thoughtful and thought-provoking lyrics coupled with some of the catchiest tunes of the summer. Who cares if it bests The End… or not? It's a great album, better than most of what's been released this year in any market. That's more than enough to earn it a worthy spot on your playlists this summer.
House of Heroes [Cold Hard Want]| Posted July 06, 2012 Cold Hard Wantis House of Heroes’ most urgent, most tangible, most undeniable artifact in their marked career. Hands down. Known for their creativity, House of Heroes has always taken pride in their ability to blend the experimental and the quirky into hooky, classic-rock-influenced anthems. But with Cold Hard Want, the band has taken the gloves off. Every song has an unavoidable, magnetic chorus. Every moment is desperate. Every track is modern rock, that is hopelessly candid—in the best possible way--complete with bombastic beats, shredding leads, and triumphant riffs. Make no mistake about one thing, however: House of Heroes has not placed their hopes on the fickle fortunes of rock n’ roll. These four realize the fate of their souls cannot be hinged on something so mortal. Faith is—and always has been—the crux of their creation.
The opening moments of the first track “A Man Who’s Not Afraid” will appeal to any fan of acapella vocals as the band beautifully harmonizes “in my dreams I see a man who’s not afraid of life and death.” The mix of diverse musical styles with Tim Skipper’s amazing vocals are an incredible combination that gets better and better with each album. Some standout songs on Cold Hard Wantinclude the next four tracks, “Out My Way,” “Dance (Blow It Away),” “Remember The Empire” and “We Were Giants.” The title of the album is found in the profound lyrics of “Out My Way,” where Tim brilliantly croons “If you’ve got shots you wanna take, better hope it buries me. If I’m going out then so it be, you know I’m going out my way.” The song touches on the dismal state of rock music, hoping to incite insurrection with the lyrics: “Because you’ll never find out ‘till your body’s been broken on the canvas…If you belong with the ghosts and the has-beens or if you live on like a little piece of greatness.” Chief lyricist AJ Babcock has always had a great blend of wit and strong statements and all the while, the band’s Christianity shines through their lyrical worldview. “Remember The Empire” calls anyone listening to resist the personal forces of darkness as Skipper belts out “Here they threaten with murder and bribe us with peace, here they treat us like slaves and convince us we’re free. There’s no turning back once enough is enough, We can’t but we must, so stand, stand up!”
There’s an interesting middle section of songs which took me a while to get used to, with “The Cop” and “Comfort Trap” both speaking to the decision of getting married, settling down, and addresses issues all listeners can relate to: “Have my cake and eat it too..a house and a wife and two and a half, I lost my dream in the comfort trap.” The album ends as strong as it starts with the standout songs “Touch This Light,” “Angels Of Night,” “Stay,” “Suspect” and closing track “I Am A Symbol.” Lead single “Touch This Light” includes everything I’ve loved about this band since they hooked me with “The Invisible Hook.” That song from their 2006 album Say No More includes the lyrics “I can see for miles and miles and miles and miles, Give us a guiding light, Give us a guiding light, Give us a hope in the night.” The newest single "Touch This Light" keeps that theme going with the great lyrics: “Make a run, make a run. Touch this light. If I could see what you see in me, If I just pushed through the crippling fear, Then I would run with the raging wind, Then I would live again.” Amen! As the Bible says in 1 John 1:5-6: “This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.” In the profound closing track, the song proclaims “The first one through is an easy kill, but no one’s safe if we all stand still” which is a great challenge for all believers to not be stagnant in their faith.
Since The End Is Not The End, I’ve been convinced that House of Heroes is the top punk band in all of Christian music. With this album, they are now my favorite punk band in all of rock music. I am a long-time fan of Weezer, Jimmy Eat World, Plain White T’s, Death Cab for Cutie and Relient K. If you like those bands, get this album immediately. I have had the privilege to see the band in concert twice and heard them perform their standout songs “In The Valley Of The Dying Sun,” “Lose Control,” “Burn Me Down” and “God Save The Foolish Kings.” If you like what you’ve heard on their incredible albums, don’t miss out on seeing them perform live. I haven’t seen many bands who are even better in concert at performing incredibly tight guitar riffs and singing amazing harmonies than on the studio recording. House of Heroes are the real deal. Cold Hard Wantis without a doubt the top punk rock album of 2012. It’s time to recognize this band with a GMA Dove Award nomination. This is by far the top alternative rock album of the year. I can’t get enough of this album. If you haven’t jumped on the House of Heroes bandwagon, don’t wait any longer. This album will stay in heavy rotation for me and although I didn’t think it was remotely possible to match the intensity and brilliance of The End Is Not The End, or the follow up Suburba, but after many listens, I’m now convinced that this is their best overall album and one of my top albums of the year.
House of Heroes: Cold Hard Want| Posted August 10, 2012 I was a little late to joining the House of Heroes party. For a while I had seen music sites screaming how awesome HOH was, so I listened to some of their stuff and was sort of indifferent to them. Nothing special. Then came along the band's single, "Touch This Light," and I knew there was no turning back. I quickly snatched up the band's last two albums, Suburba and The End is Not the End, and I have been jamming out to Cold Hard Want for like the past month. On this album the band created some of their finest masterpieces, and created easily their best album to date. I have listened to this album more times than I can count, and I have not grown tired of it yet.
"A Man Who's Not Afraid" is a pretty daring way to open the album, and definitely different than anything I have heard a band do before. It was strange, but House of Heroes made it work. After the little one minute intro, "Out My Way" began to serenade my ears with the best song of the year so far. The song is kind of in-your-face, but at the same time not too in-your-face, if that makes sense. "Out My Way" has an urgent feel to it and at the same time is very motivating - it is perfect working out to by the way. Possibly some of my favorite lines by House of Heroes come from this song, like the chorus, "If you've got shots you wanna take, better hope it buries me, hey ey ey. If I go out then so it be; you know I'm going out my way." This was a great way to start the album off, and it easily made me super excited to listen to the rest of the album.
"Dance (Blow It All Away)" follows up "Out My Way" with a song that always makes me think of Relient K for some reason. (Do not ask me why, just go with it.) The song is filled with a bunch of metaphors from the very first stanza, and is just great lyrically. The song talks about wanting to either completely rebuilding their life or just start all over and hav fun with it - just blow it all away. "Remember the Empire" is a very fun song to listen to, and completely different than the rest on the album as far as sound goes. It is a very interesting song, with some of the most intricate instrumentals on the record that intrigue me every time I listen to it. The song seems to go along with the thematic songs they have had in the past, in fact Cold Hard Want seems to take a departure from their usual, thematic albums. So many songs on this album remind me of weird things, but "Remember the Empire" reminds me of Star Wars every single time I listen to it.
"We Were Giants" was an easy choice for my second favorite song on the record. It is a little different than the rest of the album, in that it is more acoustic and intimate. I would absolutely love to hear this one in a house show type setting. I have always loved Tim Skipper's voice, but "We Were Giants," I feel, is the best representation of how great of a vocalist he truly is. The song is a plea for someone to stay and hold on to what they had, because he still believes they still have it. The song is a perfect segue into "The Cop," slowing it down perfectly to go into a purely acoustic song with interesting production. I have heard complaints lately of bands overproducing albums, which there may be some validity to that, but "The Cop" seems to take it back to the times when songs sounded less than perfect. The song was supposed to sound a little more old-fashioned, in which the band greatly succeeded.
I instantly fell in love with the instrumentals on "Comfort Trap;" in fact, I just love the whole song. I get it stuck in my head every time I listen to it, and it will usually stay in my head for like the next 24 hours it seems. The song is super catchy, and the lyrics - like all other HOH songs - are stellar. Skipper talks about getting to comfortable with what he has in life and telling God that He could wait, and he realizes he is stuck in this horrible trap. The first and only single form the album, "Touch This Light," follows that up with easily another favorite of mine off the album. The song is equally as catchy as "Comfort Trap," but it really speeds the album up and brings it back to the pace we left off with on "Remember the Empire." The single is what revived my love for the band, and it should be able to make a fan out of anyone.
"Angels of Night" is that song on the album that I think may have made me realize just how good this band truly is. The style of the song is unlike the rest of the album, which seem to be the theme of Cold Hard Want. The track is not one of my top favorites on the record, but after listening to this song for the first time, something just hit me and me realize just how well the band does everything. I would highly recommend looking up the lyrics to this song and just reading through them, even without the song playing in the background. Just read them. The lyrics are so well written and are the greatest representation of just how great of a lyricist Skipper is. "Stay" continues with the slower pace that "Angels of Night" started again. The song is pretty good as far as instrumentals, lyrics, and vocals go, but it is not one of my top tracks on the CD.
"Suspect" is another one of those interesting songs on Cold Hard Want that just really made me fall in love with the band all over again. The instrumentals are a little more technical and techno-ish during the verses, and the lyrics take me back to those old secret agent movies I used to love to watch. Who am I kidding? I still love to watch those movies - just last night I watched an old James Bond movie! "Suspect" is easily the best song in the later portion of the album. "Curtains" then continues in the strange intro tracks that segues into the final song, "I Am a Symbol." The song is a perfect mixture of everything that makes House of Heroes great, from stellar lyrics to great instrumentals to strong vocals on the part of Tim Skipper. The best line in the song, by far, is "One voice in the crowd is small, but if he speaks the truth, then he speaks for all, all of us." I love the song, and it is a perfect way to end a perfect album.
I am very skeptical of ever giving perfect ratings to albums, which is why I rarely give them out. Most albums that I review, I will pour over and scrutinize everything possible to get a good picture of how everything sounds, which I did with Cold Hard Want as well. I seriously can find no flaws in this album; House of Heroes did absolutely nothing wrong on the record. Every time I listen to it I fall more and more in love with it, and each time I find something new that makes me love it even more. I went into this album hoping for a solid release from the band, and they more than delivered. They released, what is right now, the top album of the year. I guess we will have to wait and see if any album can top Cold Hard Want, but man is it going to be hard to do.
Favorite Song: Out My Way
This review has been reprinted on NRT with permission from The Christian Music Review Blog. Click here to visit today!
House of Heroes' Best Project to Date:| Posted July 09, 2012
Just about two years ago, Gotee Record’s polished rock band, House of Heroes, released their third album, Suburba, with the label. Featuring the singles “Elevator” and “Constant,” this Dove-nominated album drew me into the hard rock this band had to offer. Other songs, including “God Save the Foolish Kings” and “Independence Day for A Petty Thief” were inviting with their haunting, somewhat futuristic effects.
Now, two years later, House of Heroes is back with their fourth Gotee Records’ project, Cold Hard Want. Though the band admits the project is more simple than previous efforts musically and more definitive lyrically, Cold Hard Want simply is, in all ways, a step up from their previous album. The album title reflects going through the fire and coming out gold. Through the tough times economically, the band decided who they were and what their goal was with their music, and they are clearly unafraid to show it through this album.
The album-opener “A Man Who’s Not Afraid” is rather surprising. An acepella track only about a minute long, the harmonies are breathtaking, but surprising for a rock band like House of Heroes. The outcome, however, is absolutely fantastic.
The rock n’ roll kicks off with “Out My Way,” beginning the roll of tracks that speak of going out to battle and being determined: “If you’ve got shots you wanna take, better hope it buries me, hey hey hey/ if I go out then so it be/ you know I’m going out my way.” Tim Skipper’s vocals, and the choirs for the fill-in parts, sound better than ever, especially when Tim’s vocals reflect urgency. “Dance (Blow it All Away)” has a sentiment similar to “God Save the Foolish Kings” from their previous album, and the predominant lead guitar is superb. And never underestimate House of Heroes, because as this song says, “Dance, we can dance, we can rage or blow it all away! We war, we are a catastrophe!” “Remember the Empire” follows on this same note of battle anthems, only this comes a little more upbeat with more fill-ins. Surely this song will be a favorite to hear the band play live!
“We Were Giants” begins with a synthetic drumbeat and is composed mostly of light acoustic guitar, for the first of slower tracks off the Cold Hard Want album. This track is very solid, and definitely one of my personal favorites off the album, as it contemplates what we used to be and a desire to get back to that place. “The Cop” surprisingly is even slower, with only relaxed acoustic guitar that makes walkups and helps sing a depressing love-song of sorts. Although I did find this track a bit hard to follow, it does have some Biblical elements to it, especially the line: “The rain falls on the blessed ones and the damned.”
“Comfort Trap” begins the road back up to the rock anthems we love from House of Heroes. Personally, I found the vocals to be a bit irritating in this track, as they were muffled as if the singer were putting his mouth right up to the microphone and not speaking clearly. It does get better when he begins screaming the lyrics of the trappings of the American dream, or of wanting to stay within your comfort zone, even if it means better things can be had by stepping outside of it.
The single that House of Heroes already released a music video for, “Touch This Light” follows next, and is still my personal favorite off Cold Hard Want, speaking of wanting to reach out and touch the light of God’s love: “I can see You there in a rain of fire, reaching out for me/ I can touch it/ I can hear Your voice calling out my name/ I wanna touch this light.”
“Angels of Night” appropriately has a country feel to it, with it’s descriptive lyrics of driving through a country village. Mixed in with Tim’s higher vocals in this song, we hear of the hardships of choosing to love again after feeling the rejection of a broken relationship. The track builds as it goes, but escalading guitars help the listener to imagine the things being described, which is beautiful! Very melodic and half-upbeat, “Stay With Me” keeps the relationship aspect going on: “Stay, stay, stay/ or don’t come back if you walk away/ I can’t go on like it’s all the same/ so stay…” I really enjoy the inviting sing-along feel that many of House of Heroes’ songs have, such as this one.
Rather hard to describe for its many awesome elements, “Suspect” is accurately titled, a detective track of sorts (”It’s suspect/ the truth hides in the lies/ I expect it all to be denied/ I’m left to sirens singing ooooh”). It has electronic effects when it’s not rocking the lead guitar or Tim’s flexible vocals throughout.
House of Heroes again experiments with the acapella tracks as they did with the opening track. “Curtains” is the second to last track on the album, again only a minute long as it simply states “Shine it on, shine it on/ we can still get home/ everybody pull the curtains to the window of your soul.” The album pulls itself to a close through “I Am A Symbol,” an, at-first, mellow track, but one that explodes into strong guitars as it goes along. It speaks of choosing to raise your voice and not be silent. At one point, it mentions: “One voice in the crowd is small, but if he speaks the truth, then he speaks for all…” and then later, “I will sing for truth/ I will sing for light/ when I’m gone the flame keeps burning…”
Cold Hard Want is, no doubt, a step up from House of Heroes’ Suburba album. Though there are a few tracks that are hard to follow or a few elements that are hard to appreciate, the band presents a strong message of fighting with all your might for what you believe in and refusing to give up, even if that means death. With several extreme rock tracks, a few mellow and downbeat tracks, and two Queen-like acapella tracks, Cold Hard Want is a solid album, and is definitely House of Heroes’ best project to date!
Album of the Year (So Far)| Posted July 21, 2012
Cold Hard Want is a phenomenal album. You can hear the heart and soul that was put into it. Every track stands out and manages to be unique. From the simplicity of "Out My Way" to the epic sound of "I Am A Symbol" the guys in House of Heroes have managed to push the bar higher in the rock genre. The lyrics are some of the best the band has written yet and vocalist Tim Skipper sings them with such passion and emotion that it feels like the song comes to life.
Cold Hard Want could very well be the best album that House of Heroes has made thus far. Every song stands out and has amazing replayability, Skipper's vocals have never sounded better, and the lyrics are some of the best stuff the band has written yet. It will be hard to follow up on this album but I trust the band to deliver.
I AM A SYMBOL I AM A FLAME TRACK| Posted July 14, 2012
Yeap want to say that rack really gets me going i am loving it. Still to really understand the other songs lyrics will be needed. if you could provide these that will be wonderful. God bless you.
House of Heroes Gets Even Better| Posted July 14, 2012
I echo most people's thoughts when I say I think this is their best project to date. It's a nice collection of wonderful tracks filled with HOH's creativity for which they are well known for. There's plenty of variety and I guantee these songs will get stuck in your head. My favorites are Dance, We Were Giants, Comfort Trap, and Touch This Light. The Cop is my least favorite but it's still a pretty good song. Everyone should at least give this album a listen. It's sure to please old HOH fans and get them some new ones (like me).
Decent Adventure| Posted July 10, 2012
The beginning of the album is rather good, but towards the end it seeems to take a change and not a change for the good. The themes and songs seem to drag and get slow. House of Heroes have always had a unique blend of music, but since the album starts off really well, I was hoping they could continue that trend throughout, but they fall a bit short. But even with that, there are a few songs that are really well done.
Where are the Christian lyrics?| Posted July 12, 2012
I'm hearing "We can rage" I'm hearing "We are insanity" I'm hearing "We have to fight for our peace" "Fight with guns" I'm not hearing a lot of reference to God or Jesus or Savior or peace that passes understanding. The musicianship is great. The sound is very catchy. Maybe this should be a secular release?