By Nick The first time I listened to House of Heroes, I was not particularly impressed. I brushed them off as just another Pop/Punk band, like a grim, humorless version of Relient K. Two albums and one concert later, my opinion has been totally changed. I now consider House of Heroes to be the Next Great Thing in Rock music, and totally renounce any former slights against them.
House of Heroes' music is like nothing ever heard before. Critics have compared it to Rush, The Beatles, and Relient K. Their music, although familiar, is quite their own. Imagine the best of 90s and 2000s rock thrown into a blender and that is possible the most adequate description.
Their First major album, Say No More, has songs that range the gamut from "Fast Enough" which sounds like Green Day if they quit writing tired political rants and started experimenting more. The upbeat "Friday Night" sounds like a less nerdy incarnation of Weezer, and "Mercedes Baby" feels like what Relient K would perform if they ever grew up. What truly distinguishes House of Heroes is their "everything-and-the-Kitchen-sink" approach. Instead of writing a bunch of verse-chorus-verse three-minute-pop songs, they stretch the limits of song structure with prog-punk in "You Are The Judas of The Cheerleading Squad", which seems like a super-fun excercise in throwing everything possible into a song. And it's awesome.
Their follow-up album The End is Not The End, is even better, if that is possible. The album has a vaguely World War II theme to it. It opens up with "If", a "song about love" that would be a huge pop smash if the world was sane. The album then glides into "Lose Control", whose opening metal riff could make it the most awesome sports anthem ever, even beating Metallica's "Enter Sandman". The next song, "Leave You Now", is a strangely upbeat tune about a POW, featuring an awesome solo, which proves that inde-alternative rock people can shred. "Dangerous" would be on C.S. Lewis' iPod if he liked fun stuff like this (It's hard, but not impossible, to imagine C.S. Lewis having an iPod.) "In The Valley Of The Dying Sun", the album's highlight, is the "Carry On Wayward Son" of the 21st century. It tells the story of Jacob and the Angel, the music moving along with the story. "Code Name:Raven" another awesome concept song, this time about a French Spy in World War II, follows up. Espionage was never this groovy. The beautiful acoustic ballad "By Your Side" effectively divides the album in half, and proves that House of Heroes' ballads are as good, if not better, than their fast hard songs. The second half of the album drags on a bit, and falls into a bit of Pop/Punkish Hey-girl, Whoa-oh nonsense. And then there's the one blemish on the album: "Baby's a Red". Nothing Like Professing your love for a system that killed 100 million people. "Voices" however, makes up for it by including a preacher talking during the end. (Not quite as good as the preacher in "Underdog" by Audio Adrenaline, but everything was better in the 90s). The album ends on a high note with "Field of Daggers" about the horrors and ravages of war. If you have the special-ish edition, you get the two bonus acoustic tracks, "New Moon" (Nothing to do with that girly vampire movie) and "Ghost". The first is a sort of artsy acoustic rock track, and the second is perhaps the saddest song in the world.
And in an ADD moment, it's interesting to note that the songs "By Your Side" and "Code Name:Raven" present fighting for your country...as something honorable. It's nice to see that unlike so many UnAmerican Idiots in the music business, is showing some respect for the military, even if it is in World War II
Of course, no all-round survey of an artist would be complete without accounting for their live performances. House of Heroes replicates their four part harmonies as much as possible onstage, and almost all their songs sound like they do on their Records. They also do some awesome Beatles covers.
In the End, House of Heroes is one of the best modern rock bands that no one has ever heard of. Compared to them, Green Day sounds tired, Kings of Leon is monotone, Blink-182 is snarky, Breaking Benjamin is disgusting (Well, Breaking Benjamin is disgusting anyway.), and Three Doors Down is simply boring. Forget what you've heard about modern rock. House of Heroes is the best there is.