The four-piece rock band from Columbus has had quite a successful run the past few years. Their past three full-lengths have all been met with critical success and had a consistent presence on numerous "best of" lists. Between each new album, House of Heroes has put out a couple unique EP's and singles, keeping fans satisfied until the next major record. The Knock-Down Drag-Outs essentially collects the majority of these secondary releases, then throws in a handful of new pieces as a cherry on top.
The hefty 19-track collection, in actuality, only contains five brand-new items, two of which are remixes. The first new song, "Choose Your Blade," is perhaps the biggest deviation we've heard from the band. House of Heroes takes the hard rock sound they're known for and blends it with a heavy Spanish influence. From the music to the occasional drift into Spanish lyrics, it's a fun and upbeat song that fans will surely love. The next new track, "Hide," showcases the band's soft side. With the soaring and powerful choruses that Tim Skipper and company usually belt out, it's impressive to hear them evoke just as much emotion in an understated fashion. The final new song is "Your Casualty;" it's not a bad song by any means, but it's definitely the weakest of the three newbies. Remixes of "Remember the Empire" by Family Force 5 and "Suspect" by McSwagger can be found at the end of the album. Both songs change rather drastically from their Cold Hard Want versions, with "Suspect" particularly being almost unrecognizable.
The rest of the collection is comprised of EP's, singles and bonus songs from the past five years. This is a convenient, all-in-one package for any fans that may have missed the press announcements or didn't buy a particular CD from a particular store. The album opens with the quirky, "Dead." This energetic rocker was originally released alongside the "Touch This Light" single. The guys' fun sense of humor continues with the 2011 Halloween single, "Lovesick Zombie." The digital-only bonus tracks from Suburba and The End is Not the End are next in the lineup. "Galveston" contrasts an upbeat tempo with spiteful lyrics about a failed relationship, capped off with numerous exclamations of "I was right." "Patience" slows things down dramatically with an ambiguous love song. "And I see you, And I know the truth… I still want you, You are the grace that I believe in." The Acoustic End EP and the fairly straightforward Meet the Beatles EP comprise the next chunk of music. "Ghost" is arguably the best, and most heartbreaking, story you will ever hear on a House of Heroes record. It follows the story of a man falling in love and finding success, only to have it all come crashing down. It's a vivid and striking story that will stick with you long after the song ends, "And that's what hurt the most, I saw it in her green eyes, She had seen a ghost." A decent DC Talk cover and a medley of the gang vocals from Suburba round out the set.
The decision to purchase this digital box set or ignore it will depend on what you already have in your catalog (However, it's also available on a physical CD too). For most, this will be an album where you buy individual tracks from the digital music store of your choosing. For the more casual fans that don't already own the EPs, this is a treasure trove of excellent music that shows elements foreign to any of the Buckeye quartet's full-length albums.- Review date: 4/28/13, written by Jerold Wallace of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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