The Hero (originally just Hero) formed in 2003 out of members from the power metal band Sons of Thunder and the doom/progressive influenced Veni Domine. As many bands do, The Hero’s sound has evolved over time with Bless the Nation (2006) being groovy hard rock, Immortal (2009) and Afterlife (2013) shifting toward power metal and the sound on Miracles evolving even further. Throughout the albums the one constant has been singer Michael Hero and the somber, baritone sound he has created.
Not having any idea of what to expect, I was still a bit surprised by “Kill the Monster”, the opening track on Miracles. A distorted guitar lead with a full band counterpoint had me thinking that this was going to be something along the lines of power metal/hard rock, but then the guitars went away, the piano came in, and that smooth, dark baritone voice of Michael Hero sounded out the verse and the direction of the song changed dramatically. Throughout the song, the piano plays a key role and the vocals really add something special as the song twists and turns. From the vocal standpoint, I get a vibe not unlike old Kutless and the overall song structure is vaguely reminiscent of something from their first album as well. Production is clean, if perhaps a bit thin, but does showcase the vocals nicely without having them dominate everything else.
“The Broken Hearted” is in a similar vein as “Kill the Monster” but the band takes a bit of a harder tone for the title track “Miracles”, which at times reminds me of some of the heavier Stone Temple Pilots songs. Overall, the band balances the loud and quiet very well in their songs, using the quiet almost as another instrument to help support a lone guitar, bass, vocals, or drums, which is becoming somewhat of a rarity these days as bands often err toward the idea of presenting a wall of sound. This concept is further explored in “Tell the World”, while the hard rock similar to the first couple of songs returns for “Via Dolorosa” and “Corpus Christi”.
Following the instrumental “Melancholiah”, the band returns to the formulas that worked so well in the beginning of the album. The more I listen, the more I am intrigued by Michael Hero’s vocals as on further listens, I’m now hearing Geoff Tate of Queensryche in there as well and some of the songs in general could arguably fit into their catalog as well. That being said, the Hero have compiled a good collection of songs and evolved their sound so that it fits the strengths of the band, namely dark catchy melodies that highlight the goth baritone vocals of Michael Hero and stand on their own.
Written by John Jackson
01. Kill the monster
02. The broken hearted
04. Tell the world
05. Via Dolorosa
06. Corpus Christi
08. Crying in the rain
09. Join me in life
10. When evil blooms
Michael Hero – Lead Vocals & Guitar
Daniel Mouton – Drums & Vocals
Emanuel Wärja – Guitar & Vocals
Henrik Deleskog – Bass
Record Label: Roxx Records / Retroactive Records, Dec. 2016