Von Hertzen Brothers- War Is Over7th November 2017
Having reached number 1 in their homeland three times already, the Finnish brothers will be aiming high again with this new release. Since supporting the likes of Opeth, the prog band have moved to even loftier heights thanks to their ability to mix and match genres whenever they want to, going on tour with Foo Fighters and ZZ Top, to name a few. This latest offering, however, brings them firmly back to the progressive territory they began the century with.
The 12 minute long title track gets the album off to a bold start. With the introduction giving off a huge 50’s nuclear fallout vibe, the Gregorian chant that seems to follow is quite a refreshing contrast. The following chord-based riff allows for a lot to change textually, with synth lines coming in and out, before an abrupt (and quite jarring, unfortunately) movement to the full bands first venture on the album. It’s quite satisfying catchy for a 12 minute long prog tune, but the perfect enunciation of the quite cringy lyrics makes for slightly uncomfortable listening. Don’t get me wrong, though, it’s a tune of quite epic proportions, complete with perfect backing vocals, stunning drum fills and a 5 minute long instrumental outro to make even the greatest bands jealous.
Then we’re smashed through the next 8 tracks, which, all clocking in at under 6 minutes means they seem seconds long. Taking more of a classic rock tone than the proggy opener, ‘To The End Of The World’ shows off the vocal range of lead brother, Mikko Von Hertzen, whose career saw him front the Finish pop band Egotrippi. Yeah that’s right, Egotrippi. Creators of everyone’s favorite tune ‘Älä Koskaan Ikinä’. ‘The Arsonist’ is another hard rock tune with a catchy hook, while ‘Jerusalem’ opens with an almost military beat and a slow 80’s synth line.
The minimalist style opening to the bizarrely titled ‘Frozen Butterflies’ unfortunately leads to possibly the worst song on the album. With about 400 key changes happening within the first 2 minutes, it’s hard to know where you are in the track, and it doesn’t have the charming catchiness of the tracks before it. Track 6 is no cover of ‘The Who’, in fact it’s a very eastern influenced, melancholy track. The vocalisations have a very Mikael Akerfeldt-esque sound, but of course, we never reach the brutality of Opeth’s death metal, just some pizzicato strings diving up sections of synth lead, full band playing. ‘Long Lost Sailor’ does actually have quite a nautical sound, while Wanderlust doesn’t give me any particular desire to travel, the albums lyrics are partially redeemed by this hopeful ballad.
Finally, the album is wrapped up with the only other truly proggy number, ‘Beyond The Storm’. At 8 minutes, it isn’t the epic of the title track, but its tense intro gives the perfect build up to another Opeth twinged track. It concludes the album with a long chanted outro, and a chance for the production team to show off a job well done on this album, filling the texture to breaking point, without ruining the individual layers.
Overall, it’s a good album. There’s nothing monumental going on, it won’t change lives, but there’s enough going on for most people to find something to grab on to. Sadly, I wouldn’t really define the album as prog. Sure, we are bookended by two long, proggy tracks, but otherwise the bulk of the album is more of a Queensryche influenced hard rock album. Let’s be honest though, who really cares? It’s a solid release and hopefully it’ll top the Finnish charts again.
- War Is Over
- To The End Of The World
- The Arsonist
- Frozen Butterflies
- Who Are You?
- Long Lost Sailor
- Beyond The Storm
Record Label – Music Theories Recordings
Release Date- 3rd November 2017