A Southern-rock inspired band from the Midwest turned indie and introspective? It's true. Once a garage band from Tulsa, Oklahoma (can a Midwestern band really start as anything but a garage band?), The Hero Factor reinvented its sound after co-founding members Eric Arndt (vocals and bassist) and Matt Fisher (guitarist) added well-known local vocalist Ben Kilgore, drummer Nathan Price and keyboardist Chad Copelin. The group kept its name, playing into its mythological overtones by naming its first official five-song EP Battling Chimaera (an allusion to the mythical beast, which has the parts of a dragon, lion and goat).
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While the group's melodies and lyrics feel faintly familiar, Kilgore's voice is surprisingly versatile. Like a less falsetto-y Chris Martin, he effortlessly jumps into higher registers, and his brilliant vocals are the defining factor of every song, bringing depth to lyrics that could otherwise be from a teen's journal. There's strong musicianship in the song “Run,” which brings to mind early REM. While The Hero Factor's sound isn't nearly as majestic as that of Muse, who they claim as an influence, the guitarist occasionally reaches that broad, soaring quality of bands like And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead.