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Von Hertzen Brothers - Love Remains the Same CD (album) cover

LOVE REMAINS THE SAME

Von Hertzen Brothers

 

Crossover Prog

4.23 | 136 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

usa prog music
5 stars When compared to The Von Hertzen Brothers' first two albums, Love Remains the Same proves comfortably familiar in its overall sound, but at the same time much more ambitious and realized. Time has proven to be a friend to the Brothers, who have used it to hone their style and focus their energy to create yet another album that delivers more depth than its predecessor.

At first though, this might not be readily apparent. Admittedly, I was a bit ambivalent upon first listen, but I decided to give it another go. And another. And another. As a matter of fact, as I loaded up Love Remains the Same for the seventh time in the seven days prior to writing this review, I was thinking, "I'm going to absolutely ruin this album for myself by overplaying it." However, it was today's listen during which the album really blossomed -- a good sign, considering I didn't fall in love with many of my favorite albums without first giving them the necessary time to grow.

The Von Hertzen Brothers' sound is anchored firmly in the sea of '70s prog and psychedelic rock, with lots of Zeppelin grit, Floydian drama and rich vocal harmonies that rival Queen and Styx at their best. Even "Freedom Fighter" sounds like it might have Jim Steinman at the keys. But jutting out of the depths of these giant influences are inspired islands of modern-day knowhow and attitude that give the music its real flavor. The way Mikko von Hertzen's Scandanavian-accented tenor sits atop the thickly atmospheric "The Willing Victim", it might make one think that they're hearing Opeth's Mikael Åkerfeldt singing something off of Damnation. The air of mysticism and mantra-style delivery of the chorus outro in "I Came for You" evokes thoughts of Kula Shaker, as much of the material was penned in India. But it is the confident, dynamic displays of flair that course through the veins of bands like recent-era Muse that firmly set the hooks of songs like "In The End", and wind up providing the strong pulse for The Von Hertzen Brothers' latest creations.

One of the most wonderful things about the song structures on Love Remains the Same is that they often mirror the dramatic structure of classic story writing, not necessarily through the lyrics, but through the music itself: Exposition, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, Denoument. The best example of this can be found in the opening track "Bring out the Sun". The first three minutes and forty seconds are spent creating texture, feeling and pace before introducing swirly, lush vocal harmonies that would make Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young break out in goose bumps. The action phase starts at the five-minute mark with an accelerating pace, developing sense of urgency that finally comes to a climax of wailing keyboards and voices that will send you right back to Kansas, 1976. Or maybe Boston. The high energy continues straight through minute nine as the music ebbs and flows through tense but restrained verses that could have been written for Freddie Mercury. Finally, everything resolves on the song's anthem-like choral motive and bombastically plods its way to a quick wind down and resolution that segues seamlessly into the next song. A substantial listen to say the least, and a powerful lead-in to the rest of the album. Not CD. Album.

The problem with so many music releases I come across is that they're really not much more than a tossed salad of co-recorded tracks, or an afterthought dinner of musical leftovers, and so long as there's an occasional juicy tomato or a bite of steak to be had, the modern record industry usually doesn't care that it's sandwiched between leaves of boring Iceberg lettuce or sitting beside dry and pasty mashed potatoes.

But occasionally, you get a feast that's been thoughtfully arranged. All of the ingredients were specially chosen to work well together, and the dishes have been skillfully prepared so that each bite will segue smoothly into the next. It's a complete experience, and it's engaging from the moment you place the napkin in your lap to the moment you place your fork on the empty plate before you. Love Remains the Same is that feast, and I'm salivating in anticipation of the next banquet.

usa prog music | 5/5 |

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