Von Hertzen Broth­ers

War Is Over

Classic Rock - - The Hard Stuff Albums - polly glass

Fin­land’s sib­ling trio stay true to them­selves on sev­enth al­bum, and it pays off.

Mix­ing pro­gres­sive, clas­sic and al­ter­na­tive lean­ings, Fin­nish chart-top­pers the Von Hertzen Broth­ers have been writ­ing against the grain since 2000 – in a land tra­di­tion­ally more re­cep­tive to the likes of Nightwish, Chil­dren Of Bodom etc. With pre­vi­ous al­bum New Day Ris­ing (2015) they de­cided to go for broke. They ditched a lot of their prog­gier ten­den­cies, hired Cana­dian pro­ducer Garth Richardson (Biffy Clyro, Chili Pep­pers) and went to Van­cou­ver to record some­thing more in line with some­one like Foo Fight­ers than any­thing they’d done be­fore. Es­sen­tially it was their bid to swap Nordic suc­cess for a slice of the global rock-star pie.

It didn’t quite work out that way. New Day Ris­ing was a qual­ity, well-re­ceived record, but stopped short of the big time. It seems rea­son­able to imag­ine they may have felt de­flated by this. In­deed, gui­tarist Kie has said: “We had a dis­cus­sion about if we still have it in us, and whether we are still up for this?”

Rather than jack it all in, the broth­ers took stock. Mikko went to In­dia (where he’d pre­vi­ously lived for seven years) and wrote lyrics, and they re­assem­bled in Fin­land to pro­duce and record their sev­enth al­bum them­selves. No tricks, just the Von Hertzens be­ing the Von Hertzens – sound­ing more am­bi­tious and, as be­comes clearer af­ter a cou­ple of lis­tens, more com­mand­ing than ever.

There’s some­thing lib­er­ated about the whole thing; a sense that they’re not try­ing to fol­low any­one’s stan­dards but their own. Six of the 10 songs here are over five min­utes long, with the ti­tle track run­ning over 12 min­utes. The key­boards are bolder and more preva­lent, and Kie plays some of his strong­est, flashiest lead gui­tar work. Seem­ingly they’ve kept the con­fi­dence gleaned from New Day Ris­ing, and mixed it with their ad­ven­tur­ous roots.

There’s a hint of ELO in the bit­ter­sweet melody shifts of Frozen But­ter­flies and on the ti­tle track. Soft touches of jazzy piano mix with un­der­stated har­monies in the beau­ti­ful, pen­sive Who Are You. Blind­sight and oth­ers start mod­estly then grow into huge-sound­ing epics. In­deed even pop­pier num­bers) such as The Ar­son­ist seem to be some­thing slightly odd­ball, but es­ca­late into some­thing big­ger, harder and more tri­umphant.

But then that’s of­ten the VHB way. They aren’t afraid to be dif­fer­ent, on a grand scale that’s pro­gres­sive, brood­ing, even weird at times, but still rocks like a beast.

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