on July 10, 2012
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.
CLOSING THOUGHTS (Staff Review, NewReleaseTuesday.com)
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.
on July 10, 2012
(4.5/5) I jumped on the House of Heroes bandwagon after their masterpiece "The End Is Not The End". "Cold Hard Want" is not "The End Is Not The End", nor is it "Suburba". It is its own album and it is fantastic.
Paul Moak, their new producer, took the classic House of Heroes sound and made it sound better than ever. The songs are tighter than ever; sometimes I wish that they took a little more time to let each song breathe a little. Also, it sounds like they play with the audio a little more than they have with past albums; see "Remember the Empire". It takes getting used to.
What is indisputable is that this album fires on all cylinders. The opening acapella track draws you in softly, only to explode into the raging riffs of "Out My Way", "Dance (Blow It All Away)", and "Remember the Empire", and then dives into the softer gems "We Were Giants" and "The Cop", and then roars back in with "Comfort Trap" and "Touch This Light", only to mellow again with "Angels of Night" and "Stay", explode with "Suspect", and then REALLY explode with "I Am A Symbol", my personal favorite track off the album.
If you enjoyed the heavier side of the Heroes (i.e. "Lose Control"), you'll find it here. If you adore good songwriting, it's not quite as good as the last two albums, but it still shines. If you fell in love with gang vocals, you will adore this album (two acapella tracks and the gorgeous harmonies in "Stay" and "I Am A Symbol"). If you've been a Heroes fan since the beginning, you will enjoy hearing how their sound has matured and gained muscle.
If you don't want to to buy the whole album, buy "Touch This Light", "Angels of Night", or "I Am A Symbol".
If you take my advice, buy this album, play it at full blast, and sing off-key with Tim Skipper and Company.
on October 7, 2014
(Here's my belated review of a CD. If you're reading it it's because you like it when people ramble. Or you're looking for a more up-to-date review of an old CD by a band you'd either heard of and forgotten or just learned of. )
The nice thing about House of Heroes is that their music doesn't seem to lose its Omph. I've 3 CDs (by the time I wrote this review) by them and I can honestly listen any one of them and not feel like its dated. "Cold Hard Want" is one of the best albums HoH released; no exaggeration or easy feat. While it won't match "The End is Not the End" (I've probably mentioned before that may be impossible with) in terms of classic feel it does have the same amazing quality. Unlike "Suburba" (also an excellent album) it's also more consistent. My only complaint with the predecessor was that it was torn between subject matter. Life in the Suburbs (thus the title) isn't so simple that a 12 track CD would be able to touch on every subject. (In truth I felt it wavered toward the end, going explicitly Spiritual unexpectedly.)
Cold Hard Want abandons the specifics and focuses on a theme without confining it to one window of life. From the beginning to the end its magic. I make no claims that my interpretation of the lyrics spot on; it's only how I took them. Here's a track breakdown.
Prelude: I'm not sure if this is an old hymn or something they wrote themselves. It's a quick 1 minute long, 100% a cappella with the sound of ocean waves on a beach in the background. HoH goodness, pure and simple.
Out My Way: Guitar riffs galore and slamming drums this song kicks off the Album with a Bang. Every line shouts House of Heroes' willingness to do whatever they want; Heart-felt conviction that the way they're doing things is the right way. Thus the title.
Dance (Blow it All Away): This song is a bit strange. Upbeat but not as slamming with the percussion as Out My Way. Not sure what it's about beyond being an overt party theme. I'd say this is probably my least favorite song on the album.
Remember the Empire: If Dance was an unexpected, forgettable track Remember the Empire more than makes up for it. One of the greatest songs (if not the greatest were 90% of the CD not equally as good) on the record. The background vocals (they have 8 people working together on the chants. Incredible) really make this track stand out even with a simple "oh, oh, oh!" Here House of Heroes returned to the stuff that made "The End is Not the End" so great. Excellent harmony, awesome guitars, lyrics are sharp and consistent with Out My Way. Though they could take on extra significance for U.S. listeners with lines like "Here they treat us like slaves and convince us were free." Or in the Chorus: "Fight with us. Fight for love/ Remember the Empire, Remember Your Home. Remember the Empire... Tear the King from the Throne"
We Were Giants: HoH slows it down here. A plea from one to another asking them to hold onto that same passion, drive, belief (ect) that sent them on great expeditions and plans. I love the easy going pace and the sound of desperation as one looks back and sees their youth-like ambitions falling over time. "Hold on to me, Hold on to us. Hold on to me, We Were Giants Once."
The Cop: A guitar ballade that reminds me of By Your Side from "The End is Not the End" but fear not; it's not a copy and pasting of the chords. Lyrically it seems to address a man who's experienced cruel realities (as a cop) and naïve innocence (as a lover) and can't find a way for them to co exist and it hurts his relationships. PS: If you're absolutely convinced swearing in ANY FORM is a sin you're probably going to take issue with a line that plays: "The rain falls on the blessed ones... and the damned." But if you're that extreme you probably aren't going to be listening to this CD anyway because it's not a hymn meant for a cloistered, secretive monestary. (FYI it's not a curse in the song's context) :P
Comfort Trap: Picking the pace back up HoH goes after that which so many of us are fooled into believing. How we can (and should) have it all and that our religion takes second. A real focused criticism of people's expectations and self-centeredness the chorus really drives it home: "I'm gonna get nice things and get my way, Even if it means there's Hell to pay. I'm gonna have my cake and eat it too, And what I don't eat I'm gonna force feed you... Have my cake and eat it too, and if it's all a lie I'm gonna say it's all true."
Touch This Light: An excellent follow-up (pace wise) to Comfort Trap, Touch This Light is lyrically the opposite of the former. Instead of human desires and expectations being thrust to the forefront this song deliberately spells out how (for the listener) that we're lost and everything we've thought was worthwhile is actually worth nothing compared to God. In fact the idea that Creation is human-centric is portrayed as a dream that we cling, sometimes fearfully, and that the Creator is reaching out to us; asking us to let go. An excellent song with some sweet string work and (as usual) great group Vocals.
Angels of Night: A big step back from the frantic guitar work of Touch This Light. Honestly I'm not sure what this song is about except it feels rather reflective. A bit of piano, tambourine, tubular bells and more make this a very pleasant song to listen to, regardless.
Stay: This song once again captures HoH at their best. Seems based around the turbulent waters of difficult relationships. Where one party or the other is just not communicating and the grief inflicted on both of them hurts equally. And at the end of it all either just wants the other to Stay. What really stands out, once more, is the Background Vocals. It's amazing what House of Heroes can accomplish with just "oh" (and the work of a quartet of singers).
Suspect: On "The End is Not the End" and "Suburba" there are certain tracks that leave my ears trembling with enthusiasm - as though asking for me to hit the Repeat button. For the former it was songs like Code Name Raven and In the Valley of the Dying Sun. With "Suburba" it was Somebody Knows and God Save the Foolish Kings. Suspect can hold its head high next to those incredible tracks. Right away you notice the buzzy Synthesizers and static sound. You might find yourself asking if the quality just slipped. Then Tim stars singing, "It's a conspiracy. A cold war in the hearts of man. / I open up my eyes. How I wish I could close them again. / Who is the Sentinel? Who keeps the peace when the dogs run free? / My cover's jepordized, Motors hummin', are they comming for me?" The song almost pokes fun at Conspiracy theorists while at the same time asking relevant questions. The risks of defying a System (Be it government or whatever) and how the paranoia that comes with taking the risk can really get to a person. This song is a blast and it sounds like HoH had so much fun with this. I can hardly keep the smile off my face when 'sirens' start singing "Oooooohhhh Oooooohhhh"
Curtains: A little hymn (again, not sure of the source) with House of Heroes going a cappella. At this point I'm not sure if I want to hear another band with as much synergy as these guys. Last time I heard vocals play this well together was dc Talk (which might show how far back my appetite for music goes).
I Am a Symbol: A beautiful close to an excellent song. Heavy, melancholy with great use of what sounds like an old church organ. The background vocals (I think there's about 10 people singing together on this last one, in total). The whole song actually features some morbid lyrics (for HoH) reflecting that even those that inspire can be silenced; their goals, the message and their aspirations, however, must carry or be passed on. And so they march, even if they're, as the first to speak up, just "an easy kill". This is song is rather haunting in a way, challenging the listener as well as encouraging them to stand up for what they believe.
So there you have it. I highly recommend this Album if you like HoH music or if you want music that isn't on the radio (that thing you've listened to which plays the same crap, newly titled, year after year). House of Heroes proved with this 4th outing that they are invisible Giants and when they do call it quits their music will stand forever; a testimony that even in the droll landscape of remixes, talentless singers whoring themselves to cameras - trying to be provocative to make up for a lack of originality and creativity - clichés and fashion, there were golden gems found behind the curtain. Long live HoH.
on July 10, 2012
How do you say that a band keeps re-creating themselves but yet are the same great sound you have come to expect? It seems like each of their preceding albums have had their own feel and sound while still being distinctively HOH. This new album has already been set to repeat infinitely for the foreseeable future. I don't know how these guys are making any money as the download right now is only $3.99. I would have paid $16.99 to get this magnificent work of art. Oh, and as the other reviewers have stated, don't miss these guys live if you have a chance to see them, you won't be disappointed!
on July 10, 2012
As a fan of HOH for a few years now, I can say that I was looking forward to this album for some time. I stumbled on to them quite by accident, as I saw them in concert with Relient K 3 or 4 years ago. I have grown to love them, the first album that I heard (which was out at the time I saw them) was "The End is not the End". Obviously a high point in their career, I felt like "Suburbia" was a not quite as strong but still very good.
What I have hoped for since "Suburbia" was that they would outgrow their need to produce a "gimmicky" album (probably not the right description, but was the closest that I could come up with). TEINTE has the war theme, Suburbia the dichotomy of our society and rich/poor. I wondered what they could produce if they just put together some good songs with their amazing talent and lyrical skills, but didn't have to worry about stringing together 12 songs that had a similar "theme".
I think I got my wish with Cold Hard Want. From beginning to end this album displays HOH at their finest. I have only heard it a couple of times through, but already I think it is my favorite of all their albums to date. A great mix of fast and slow, hard and soft and their lead singers fabulous range. They have really matured as a band. The songs all stand alone as fine pieces in their own rite, and fit together fine but without an overpowering theme that feels like a stretch. You can see other reviews for a song by song breakdown, there are several catchy tunes on this album. They have really refined their style and it shows.
I am not a 'fanboy' but I am a fan. For those of you who have seen HOH live or have enjoyed their albums so far, you will not be disappointed. The opening day price on Amazon for 3.99 is an absolute steal. I recommend this without hesitation.
on July 10, 2012
House of Heroes is quite possibly my all time favorite band, so needless to say I was pumped when I heard about this album. When I listened to it, I knew why I was pumped: because it is awesome! House of Heroes continue to amaze me with their creativity, variety, and lyrics, not to mention Tim Skipper's amazing vocals. Whether you are a big HOH fan, a Christian music fan, or a rock and roll fan in general, you should most definitely add this album to your collection. You will be very glad you did.
on August 31, 2012
Every time I listen to House of Heroes, I wonder why I'm not listening to them all the time.
House of Heroes know what they're doing and they love doing it! From start to finish, the best word to describe them is solid.
If you want to rock out to the fist pumping tracks like Dance (Blow It All Away), Suspect, Comfort Trap, Remember the Empire and Touch This Light, rock your face of with awesomeness!!
Mellow rock anthems like Out My Way, Stay and I Am A Symbol, balance things out,
Tracks like Angels of Night slow things down a little and The Cop delivers a vivid tale of seeking love and life in a dark world. Heroes's albums always have lush stories throughout their lyrics, and Cold Hard Want does not disappoint.
On the album, they warm things up, pull back a little, then turn it up again before toning it down again and ending on a well balanced note. These guys just love to bring the rock.
Comfort Trap is an outstanding example of how creative House of Heroes can get with their music. It caught me off guard, just as the title suggests. Starts of calm and quiet and then a chorus rises out of nowhere, howling "I'm gonna have my cake and eat it too! And what I don't eat I'm gonna force feed you", rocking you to the floor and then calming down again. After a typical two verses and choruses, the song seems to end catching you off guard again as they rock the song out on a loud note with another comfort trap of thinking you know how a song is structured.
I wanted to say my favorite tracks include: Touch This Light, Suspect, The Cop, Remember the Empire... but then I just started to write out every track. It's hard to choose.
Well played, boys!! Very well played.
I HIGHLY recommend this to anyone looking for a solid rock album.
on September 4, 2012
After the awesomeness of The End is Not the End and the stunning Suburba, a new House of Heroes disc almost seems anticlimactic......a sense that the band addresses directly with Cold Hard Want, an album that seems almost surly in comparison with its predecessors. The band has always been informed as much by classic rock as they have by the modern pop-punk movement they are most often identified with. However, the lightness of the latter is supplanted by a desperation and urgency emblematic of the former, that seems to imply that the band thinks their career rides with this record. The disc certainly doesn't suffer from a lack of tunefulness but, despite the presence of top-notch songcraft ("Dance (Blow it All Away)", "Angels of the Night", "Comfort Trap" and the tear-inducing ballad, "The Cop"), the almost humorless tenor of the material, virtually, takes away one of the bands greatest gifts: The ability to induce a goofy grin. Cold Hard Want is, CERTAINLY, miles ahead of the competition when it comes to faith based modern rock......really, only Reliant K even comes close to these guys......but I just miss the fun of their past work.
on July 23, 2012
When I heard that HoH had a new album out, I got a little bit excited. I've been a fan since "The End is Not the End" and still listen to that pretty regularly. I passed on Suburbia because it failed to thrill me and I wasn't going to spend the money on it. And then I heard "Touch This Light" and was let down. But I kept hearing it on the radio, and it has really grown on me. The whole album is like that. First time through, I wasn't shocked by it's greatness, but over time, I have eased into it. This really is a good release, and was worth buying.
As a side note, "Remember the Empire" had better be the next single. That is BY FAR the greatest song on the album.
on August 10, 2014
Cold Hard Want is another great offering from House of Heroes, full of vintage rock and terrific harmonies, given a 21st Century edge and sensibility. You can hear the grit and determination in Tim Skipper's voice in a fiercer way than ever before. "Remember the Empire" is an instant HoH classic (and great live!).
If you're a longtime fan, or brand new to the House, you have a great opportunity to get behind them in a fundraising campaign for a new double album. Go to www.indiegogo.com/projects/house-of-heroes-full-length-concept-album, and join the hundreds who have gotten behind the band for what will surely be another blow-the-roof-off great project. You also get their new EP Smoke with your contribution. It's an outstanding collection of melodic rock that will whet your appetite for more. I'm not with the band; I'm just a fan who believes in House of Heroes. If you're already on board, you know. If you don't know yet, grab this chance to get on board with one of the most underrated rock bands around.