You'll Cold-Hard-Want This in Your Collection | Posted August 13, 2012 Staff Reviewer
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.