Opening this review with the term “Total Knockout” is not an understatement, because this album, in every respect, blew me away right from the very dramatic opening guitar charged chords of the first track through to the last dying embers of the final song and then the ending culminating in the thunderous clamor of sounds from a firework display, quite the appropriate ending.
This conceptual album represents a full hour of delightful melodic dual lead guitar set within a framework of dynamic song based progressive rock. The vocals throughout each of the ten tracks are all delivered with strength and purpose and are saturated with oodles of beautifully constructed associated harmonies. The ability of a band to produce an hours’ worth of such excellent and intriguing self-penned music is certainly a rare thing indeed for there is not one poor track on this album. The direction of the music, to be honest, tends to lay slightly more towards the “Adult Orientated Rock” camp rather than that of the “Progressive Rock” side of things and as such it is very much more guitar orientated with the keyboards used only to embellish the sound and provide colour and fill. So, yes, this is music very much dominated by an assortment of guitar histrionics a preverbal multitude of guitar layers flowing both independently and then fusing together in dynamic fashion, early “Wishbone Ash” easily comes to mind with their particular brand of melodic duel lead guitar. The striking and consistent constituent of the whole project is the sheer dynamism, pace, melodic charm with an abundance of different compositional ideas that thread their way through each of the songs. In some respect, once again citing band similarities with that of “Spoks Beard” The Van Hertzen Brothers comprise Mikko, Jonne and Kie Von Hertzen who originally and each individually enjoyed a modicum of success with their own bands in Finland. Coming together as a family at the turn of the century as the Von Hertzen Brothers such success has expanded with them topping the Finnish album charts with their unique blend of progressive guitar driven rock combined with rich layered vocal harmonies, military (in places) tight percussion and melodic bass lines. The entire album is a joy to behold a very refreshing and exciting set of tunes.
Summary: A superb guitar extravaganza of wonderfully melodic songs with extremely good stylish vocals and nice layered harmonies.
Artwork: Hard to tell with a promo download but the cover looks quite reasonable.
1. War Is Over
2. To The End Of The World
3. The Arsonist
5. Frozen Butterflies
6. Who Are You?
8. Long Lost Sailor
10. Beyond The Storm
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Line Up :-
The guitar-vocalist Kie von Hertzen has played in Don Huonot[fi] (1992-2003), the singer-guitarist Mikko von Hertzen is an ex-member of Egotrippi[fi] (1994-1998) and Lemonator (1995-1998), and the vocalist-bass guitarist Jonne von Hertzen won the National Rock Contest in 1998 with his band Cosmos Tango and later joined to play the bass in Jonna Tervomaa’s band (1999-2005). The band has two other permanent members, namely Mikko Kaakkuriniemi on the drums and Juha Kuoppala on the keyboards.
The father of the brothers, Hasse von Hertzen, played guitar in an early sixties band called The Savages and later in The Roosters. Their uncle Lasse von Hertzen was a member of a well-known 70’s folk band in Scandinavia, Cumulus.
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Throughout the ’90s, the brothers Mikko, Jonne and Kie Von Hertzen all played in different nooks and crannies of the Finnish music scene before coming together as family unit Von Hertzen Brothers in 2000. Maybe it wasn’t a serious gathering at first, but by the time their 2nd album Approach topped the Finnish chart with its epic and challenging progressive rock, it was obvious that this project was both different and special.
The not-inconsiderable feat of crowning the album chart with challenging and intelligent music sung in English is something the band has managed three times since: Love Remains The Same (2008), Stars Aligned (2011) and Nine Lives (2013).
In the four years since the release of Stars Aligned, Von Hertzen Brothers has found an international audience the old-fashioned way – by writing memorable songs, playing the hell out of them in the studio and touring hard. They’ve appeared all over Europe and Scandinavia with Opeth, and supported acts like Foo Fighters, 30 Seconds To Mars and Neil Young closer to home. As for their own tours, these have regularly taken them to the UK, where their latest Nine Lives album reached Number 31 on the Rock Album Chart, being nominated in the ‘Best Rock Album Of The Year’ category by Classic Rock Magazine.
The three singles from the album – Flowers and Rust, Insomniac and Coming Home – all received generous airplay on rock-oriented stations in Finland and the UK. Indeed, first single Flowers And Rustwon the ‘Anthem Of The Year’ prize at the 2013 Progressive Rock Awards in London.
And now… the pen hits the paper for the brotherhood’s next chapter in March 2015 with the release of their sixth studio album. The brothers, along with drummer Mikko Kaakkuriniemi and keyboard player Juha Kuoppala, headed over to Vancouver, BC to work with Juno Award winning Canadian producer Garth ‘GGGarth’ Richardson, noted for his work with bands like Rage Against the Machine and Biffy Clyro. The band spent September and October holed up at The Farm Studios (known in rock lore as Little Mountain Studios), soaking up the vibes ricocheting off the walls, probably left there by bands such as Aerosmith, AC/DC, Metallica & The Cult, amongst many others.