The End is not the End – House of Heroes

I cannot praise this album enough, as it contains too much depth and joy to address fully here; just go listen to it. My personal favorite of the album is “Baby’s a Red”, their joyful, silly anthem about dating a communist under McCarthyism, with its bouncy shout-filled chorus and Beatles-esque solo, but you may want to start with something more serious. Try out “In the Valley of the Dying Son”- its seamless key changes buoy its shifts between wild, heavy, low-end riffing and beautiful arpeggiated guitar harmonies under angelic vocals. The album really has an epic quality to it, partially due to its complex and thought-provoking lyrical themes; though the songs don’t share a continuity, they constantly explore the realities of war and geopolitics from a grounded moral perspective, and I care about the characters established in single stories like “Ghost” and “By Your Side”. Sure, I don’t subscribe to this band’s Christian faith, but I can still revel in the afterlife-focused berserker mentality of “Journey into Space (Part One)”. The only point where I felt like the album wasn’t speaking to me was when they sampled a real sermon on “Voices”, and they immediately followed that up with a blinding electronic instrumental that I couldn’t help but soak into. The vocals on this album are so emotive, alternating between alluringly soft and scene-stealingly harsh; adding fuel to the fire are the album’s constant, well-executed, beautiful vocal harmonies, the secret behind the band’s seemingly endless reserve of anthems. The drums are always splendid, carrying, for instance, “New Moon”, an addicting acoustic jam based on high speed and blues harmony; throughout the album, the drums set just the right rhythm for their guitar riffs to hit as hard as humanly possible. Every one of these tracks is full of brilliant harmony, whether they’re throwing you into original, precisely timed mode mixture or simply sitting on odd spaces within the key. They even do tempo changes well, which I almost never get to hear. So, what do you get when you combine innovative harmony, beautiful vocal harmonies, deep philosophical messages, anthemic choruses, gorgeous heavy riffs, Beatles and Rush influences, and song structures based on change so that you never know what type of section is coming next? You get “Faces”, “Journey into Space (Part One)”, “Drown”, “Code Name: Raven”, “Voices”- you get an original, ground-breaking hit every time.

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