I came across them by accident, really. One day I just started looking up metal, trying to find a band that might jog my interest. And
then came HB.
I'm surprised so many people on here like this band, considering that they sing metal with a surprisingly positive perspective on the Christian tradition, and the popular (and sometimes true) stereotype of the metal scene is that everyone is either an atheist or a black metal extremist like Burzum
. But I won't make this review preachy, focusing rather on the musical aspects and saving a lyrical analysis for the very last.
After a brief intro, we are introduced to the second track, a real metal song. But it's obviously symphonic metal with a heavy orchestra and plenty of good riffs, beautiful vocals and something that, were in in metalcore, would be considered a break-down. It sounds decent enough.
"It Is Time" incorporates heavy riffs, more symphony and a nice guitar solo into a rather short but still decent piece, showing the versatility of lead singer Johanna Aaltonen: going from normal singing to a pleasant operatic (which sounds just as good in her native Finnish as it does in English).
"Be Aware" follows suit of the previous song, only featuring growled vocals from (I presume) the keyboardist and no normal vocals. As with all symphonic metal acts, there is a ballad on this album (or two): perhaps the most epic one being "Holy Secret", mostly because of the heights Johanna reaches in the song (the same with the second track). Most of the other tracks are either slow or melodic, but the most ambitious track is..."Ambition."
It's not really anything special, but then again, most symphonic/power metal really isn't very special in comparison to others. It's the ones that stand out that are special.
HB definitely stands out. Here we come to a lyrical analysis. I don't think there is any way to be wholly objective about this band: you either love them or you hate them (or you think they are okay. lol) The thing that makes them stand out is that they are a heavy band that sings about Christianity. Though, obviously, this isn't your usual "contemporary pop-country J-103" kind of Christian music. Though some of the songs tend to get a little "praise-y", there is something very different about the way they approach Christianity. "It Is Time" is about making your faith real, not just a show; something that most Christians neglect. "Be Aware" is about a topic that almost no "contemporary christian" artists dare sing about: the dreaded Second Coming
and the end of the world. The title track is about those who feel that they haven't been changed after accepting God
, as if they are "Frozen Inside
." It's a darker take on the Christian experience than most PnW artists would dare, which makes it so unique.
It's hard to really classify them under the Christian music category, since they have been so vehemently against the metal movement, and it is hard to put them in the metal category since the majority of metal-heads (from the comments I've seen from you all) hate Christians more than they hate the Conservative party. I've heard some very scathing hate made against this band, some saying that this isn't metal since metal was, in their belief, a rebellion against religion.
Well, if you want to see metal as a rebellion, than HB is definitely a rebellion against the established norm of metal. They can pull of an album that is neither too preachy or too optimistic and still sound decent. I never really think of them in comparison to Nightwish
, more of a beginning of something new...