House of Heroes
House of Heroes’ career is certainly an odd one. They’ve been one of the most consistent alternative rock groups of the past decade, though they’ve never had the fan base or critical success equal to their talent. Some of that could be their being lumped in with other stale Christian rock artists at a time when that was basically Anberlin, Relient K, and everyone else. It also doesn’t help that their best and most well-regarded record is an hour-long concept album centered around World War II, not exactly a simple introduction. To all those missing out, it’s a damn shame, as House of Heroes have been arguably one of the most ambitious rock bands in an era when rock and ambition are charging in different directions. So it makes sense for the band to go all-out with a narrative-based concept album on record number six, right? Colors is basically a rock opera, with songs bouncing from three different perspectives. The story is relatively simple, telling the tale of family dynamics, love, murder, and redemption. Oh, and the record is incredible.
The straight-forward narrative suits House of Heroes just fine, as they really play around with their sound. Colors is easily the band’s most sonically varied release, as the songs are tailored to the narrator masterfully. “Pioneer” introduces the murderer with a desert rock banger, which is followed up by the potent hybrid of swing and Black Holes and Revelations-era Muse of “Rat” (trust me, it works). Later, “God” is basically a power ballad in the form of a doom metal crusher. What’s interesting is how the band seems to have scaled back some of their stadium ambition to fit the album. Tim Skipper has a fantastic voice, and the band have shown a real talent at crafting massively catchy songs, but his hooks aren’t as obviously (or at least initially) potent, and the band sometimes sounds like they are holding back a bit to keep within the story. It all works beautifully, as Colors really is a fantastic listen that becomes more enjoyable with each spin, but it is certainly ripe for dampened first impressions. While the band doesn’t go too deep into progressive pastures, Colors features a neat trick where the a melodic motif is mentioned in “Colors Run” and repeated in different ways throughout the album, some more obvious than others.
True to themselves, House of Heroes know no way but their own. Colors isn’t immediate, but with time it proves to be the group’s most complete album yet. House of Heroes executes this little rock opera so perfectly that it’s tough to overstate how impressive the record really is. Colors is sure to be on some best of lists at the end of the year. (Nicholas senior)