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JFH Music Review

House Of Heroes, Colors

House Of Heroes

Artist Info: Discography
Genre(s): Rock
Album length: 13 tracks: 46 minutes, 51 seconds
Street Date: July 1, 2016


It's been four years since the last full release from House of Heroes. A B-Sides album, the Smoke EP and a Christmas EP helped bridge the gap, but everyone who listens to the band knows they are in their best element when making full-length albums. After creating two loosely conceptual albums, The End Is Not the End and Suburba, the highly underrated rock band decided to stretch their creative talents and write a full-fledged concept album. Colors tells the fictional story of three characters: Eric, who moved back to his home city after a failed pursuit of his dreams, his cousin Axel who thinks he runs the town, and love interest Joni. Forsaking any traces of their light-hearted and fun-loving lyrics, exemplified on "Baby's a Red" or "She Mighty Mighty," Colors' thematic content is very serious, and ultimately left unresolved. Connecting these thirteen tracks is an overarching theme of predeterminism vs idealism (free will). These philosophical ideas show up with words and phrases like "colors" and "making our stars," with "colors" being equivalent to inevitable destiny and "stars" being a metaphor for determining your own fate.

The story is structured like a literary drama with an exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and desolution. The songs are told from the perspective of a narrator, Axel, Eric, or a both Axel and Eric, making it initially difficult for most listeners to follow along without background information. "Colors Run" and "Pioneer" introduce the protagonist (Eric) and the antagonist (Axel) with their own theme songs. The plot develops in "Rat," where Eric witnesses his cousin Axel commit a serious crime, but is coaxed into keeping his mouth shut. In the middle of the album, a romantic relationship between Eric and Joni becomes stronger while a once confident Axel begins to break down. Tension escalates in "Crash" where a drunk Axel comes on to Joni, but is turned away. There is a big showdown between Axel and Eric in "Matador," but then the story takes a dramatic shift when Axel kills Eric in "Shots Fired" out of jealousy and fear of being caught for his first crime. Axel unsuccessfully tries to get Joni to run away with him on "Get Away," but ultimately he realizes running is futile, and we find him locked up in prison on "Colors Die Out." In a sense, the story is a modern day tragedy.

The story, however, is not as strong as the musical component of this album. In fact, this album is the most technically impressive and engaging we've heard from the band since their magnum opus, The End Is Not The End. In true House of Heroes fashion, the band fully utilizes their musical abilities to aid in telling the story. The tone of each song tends to match Axel or Eric's personalities, with Axel giving off a gritty vibe and Eric's songs being more melodic. There are also musical themes that are skillfully integrated into several songs, most notably a guitar riff that shows up in various forms on "Colors Run," "Pioneer" and "Shots Fired." The songs that involve Axel are some of the edgiest songs we've seen from the band, both musically and thematically. On "Feel," Axel declares his manliness over a monstrous guitar riff, "This ghetto's my cathedral / This gun my Eucharist / I take the offering / And I decide what sin is." "God" explores Axel's skewed questions about who God is with a powerful and abrasive chorus that is contrasted with whispered vocals in the verses. If you thought "Comfort Trap" was an intense listen, this song is on a whole new level of angst. On the lighter side, the slightly repetitive "We Make Our Stars" is the most hopeful song on the album, and possibly the most important in conveying the album's theme. The best softer track, however, is "In The End," which is one of several songs that also holds up well on its own, outside the context of the album. In the song, a somewhat bluesy electric guitar is accompanied by a Hammond organ and Lion King styled background vocals as Eric sings about his destiny to be with Joni, "Here's the wonder keeping stars apart / I carry your heart I carry it in my heart / Like a lion running to the slaughter / I'll come for you daughter / I'll come for you in the end."

Despite its darker nature, Colors still contains the intelligent songwriting we expect from the band and the sing-along quality that marks much of their back catalog--especially tracks like "Colors Run," "Pioneer," and "Rat." The delivery and content of the story could have been stronger, but Colors is nonetheless an ambitious and unique piece of art that is best experienced with speakers blaring.

- Review date: 6/29/16, written by Christopher Smith of

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JFH Staff's Second Opinion

After a long four years since the release of Cold Hard Want, House of Heroes has since taken the ever more common route of independence to release their first official concept record. Colors presents an intelligent yet straightforward story that is at times thought-provoking, challenging, and even profound. Centered around themes of betrayal, brotherhood, and rebellion, Colors is a much darker journey than what we've come to expect from the band (apart from the more harrowing moments of The End is Not the End). From the pounding riff on "Pioneer"--that demands a fearful respect of the antagonist--to the aggressive, revenge-fuelled "Matador" and the disturbing conclusion in "Shots Fired," the concept comes with a caveat to casual listeners. Few of these songs should be taken as standalone pieces.

The album's strongest point is the balance between the story and its musical delivery. "God" is a particular highlight here; with whispered verses leading to a thunderous chorus, it goes from a curious hope to a frustrated realization almost effortlessly. "Crash" and "Matador" use a similar approach and pull it off just as well.

Although the concept may be a little too ambiguous at times, and for some too thematically dark, Colors is one of the band's finest projects to date and comes highly recommended. - 7/22/16, Lucas Munachen of


JFH Staff's Additional 2 Cents

    Ohio natives House of Heroes have been consistently putting out one stellar album after another, and their newest concept album, Colors, is no exception. The story revolves around three characters in a small town dealing with themes such as crime, loyalty, love, faith and free will. While the story-focused album limits them lyrically a bit, musically Colors finds the band at the top of their game. Whether it's the melodic and meaningful single "Colors Run," or the rapid and aggressive "Pioneer" and "Matador," these songs showcase the signature HoH sound. But with this band you tend to expect a few experimental surprises, and this album doesn't disappoint in that regard either. "We Make Our Stars" is dreamlike contemplation, "God" is deep and thought-provoking like a parable ("If God is a rich man, why am I so poor?"), as well as the beautiful and tender strumming of "Get Away," all three are standout tracks. My only nitpick would be that lyrically, the songs aren't as strong separately, due to needing context from the whole album as one story. The meaning in songs like "Rat" and "Feel" might get misconstrued without context for the story. When listened together as an album however, Colors is an interesting and engaging album. It may not be as lyrically profound as The End Is Not The End or as musically dynamic as Cold Hard Want, but overall, it's another wonderful addition to House of Heroes' already impressive catalog. - 6/16/16, Dylan O'Connor of

    House of Heroes is certainly one of today's favorites in the Christian rock world. Colors, their latest release, is a concept album that features some of the band's best musical pieces to date. The biggest setback with the record, however, is that the story behind the concept at times keeps them a little too handcuffed, thematically. While the story can be a little off-putting at times, including a section about lying to cover-up a murder, the music itself is stellar. If you aren't impressed after your first listen (like me), hang in there for a couple more times through. The story begins to soften some and you find yourself completely engrossed in some really great rock and roll. "Pioneer," "Feel," and "Matador" are all highly recommended. - 6/30/16, Michael Weaver of

    After taking some time to digest everything, I've been impressed by House of Heroes once again with their latest offering. However, Colors doesn't hit me with the same impact as their previous work. "Colors Run" and "Matador" are classic HOH rock tracks, the former of which just about takes the title for album highlight, but the tender "In the End" is also a strong contender. Grittier and even a little heavier than ever before, House of Heroes ends up taking some risks in their independence from a traditional record label. It's hard to find the light in the story, but if you take your time with it (as you should with a record like this), Colors does have some redemptive qualities and makes for another great hit from this devastatingly underrated rock band. - 7/17/16, Scott Fryberger of



. Record Label: BC Music
. Album length: 13 tracks: 46 minutes, 51 seconds
. Street Date: July 1, 2016
. Buy It: iTunes
. Buy It: (CD)
. Buy It: (Vinyl)
. Buy It: AmazonMP3

  1. This City is a Cage (1:24)
  2. Colors Run (4:45)
  3. Pioneer (3:55)
  4. Rat (3:12)
  5. We Make Our Stars (4:24)
  6. Feel (3:20)
  7. God (4:31)
  8. In The End (3:55)
  9. Crash (3:00)
  10. Matador (3:59)
  11. Shots Fired (2:48)
  12. Get Away (3:02)
  13. Colors Die Out (4:42)
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