To any music listener worth their salt, House of Heroes are A-listers, in skill if not in reputation. An impressive discography backed up by an enthralling live show have led to a faithful following, and HOH fits the bill squarely. It's all the more reason, then, for the band to strike out on their own for a change after a long tenure on Gotee Records. Smoke EP is their first order of business as a newly-unsigned band, and it's everything fans could expect.
From the beginning, it's clear that the production quality hasn't suffered in the least, as the fun starts immediately with "Bottle Rocket." It's a blistering opener with Tim Skipper's vocals soaring high and a novel organ sound thrown in for good measure. This is followed up by "The Worst Kind of gods," a proclamation of human depravity ("Slaves to our selfish hearts that always want/I am not a good man/it's good I seek to do"), and "Wake Up Screaming" and "Satisfied" serve as valid reminders of life's brevity and value.
The EP's finest inclusion is surely "A Fire Only We Know," featuring guitar work somewhat reminiscent of The Beatles hit "Here Comes the Sun." It's a modern ballad that showcases the depth House of Heroes can bring to their work while maintaining stunning simplicity; pensive lyrics like "there's a bravery inside me still clinging to my clothes/like smoke from a fire only we know" have become trademark for this band, which is only a good thing. "Infinite" closes the album on a Suburba-esque note, contrasting the urgency of "Satisfied" with the carefree spirit of enjoying life "riding in your brother's Camero."
And EP like this one is a tricky one to compare to previous work, as it neither continues any obvious creative concept nor lays any new groundwork. It's hard to say if any of these tracks would have fit in well with any of their previous albums, but at face value, they're enjoyable and make a cohesive whole for the EP's purposes. At the risk of sounding flippant, Smoke EP is simply six new House of Heroes songs in one place to hold fans over until their next big project. Still, it's a stellar six tracks, and it's another reminder of how talented these rockers are in the grand scheme of their scene.
Perhaps the best news is that Smoke EP is available to anyone who contributes to the band's IndieGogo campaign for their upcoming concept album, so it's absolutely worth the investment. Smoke doesn't deviate from the House of Heroes norm too much, but it's a fulfilling listen that ends the summer with bliss.- Review date: 8/17/14, written by Roger Gelwicks of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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