CD Reviews

Von Hertzen Brothers - 'Stars Aligned' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     May 03, 2011    
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The Von Hertzen Brothers are an incredibly talented bunch.

Although they're a brand new name to me, 'Stars Aligned' is actually the Von Hertzen Brothers fourth album, the first three appearing in their native Finland between 2001 and 2008, but with the ever interesting Spinefarm label picking up album number four you can bet you'll hear a lot more of this band in the near future. Respected rock journo and Editor of Classic Rock's Prog offshoot magazine, Jerry Ewing, described them to me back in November as being like Transatlantic with Tommy Shaw singing, and whilst there are a lot more modern prog elements to the music and production than I was expecting, that's actually not far wide of the mark.

Joining the three Von Hertzen brothers (that's Mikko on vocals and guitar, Jonne on bass and backing vocals and Kie on guitars and backing vocals) are drummer Mikko Kaakkuriniemi and keyboard player Juha Kuoppala, and together they show no sign of the musical excesses of many of the other Finnish artists associated with the same label. One of the main features of their music is the vocal interaction of the three brothers, with quirky off-beat harmonies and quite unique melody lines all over the opening tracks 'Miracle' and 'Gloria', atop the bass driven riffs and retro keyboard sounds of the former and the busy instrumentation and Transatlantic-style breakdown of the latter. What's odd is that both of these songs are instantly catchy and accessible and there's nothing else on the album like them, but I guess by then most will be already hooked and willing to make more of an effort with some of the other songs. The only other easy listens are the gently atmospheric 'Down By The Sea' and the relatively simple 'Always Been Right' which boasts a catchy chorus.

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At the other end of the spectrum is 'Voices In Our Heads', which has an odd Muse-like dance feel and large periods of strangeness, and the dark and brooding 'Angel's Eyes' which builds to a crescendo before going out on a mellow solo guitar. 'Bring Out The Snakes' includes spoken parts and samples before going heavy and angry and changing again to a melodic refrain with swirling keys, and the closer 'I Believe' has early Queen vocal harmonies and a Spock's Beard feel to it. Also I'm quite partial to the Devin Townsend-like orchestral feel and great melodies of 'Repeat Mode' as my current number one pick, cementing in my own mind an image of the VHB as a progressive version of one album cult band T-Ride.

The Von Hertzen Brothers are an incredibly talented bunch who I'm sure will one day release an all-time classic. This isn't it, but the signs are there for a great future, they've already played their first sold out show in London so be sure to catch them on the Prog Stage at this years High Voltage festival.

Phil Ashcroft

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