House of Heroes [Cold Hard Want] | Posted July 06, 2012 Staff Reviewer
Cold Hard Want is 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 Want include 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 Want is 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.