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Von Hertzen Brothers - Stars Aligned CD (album) cover


Von Hertzen Brothers

Crossover Prog

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4 stars What could come after real masterpiece? Of course, album which is rigorously compared with this one. There are too little cases in Rock (and actually in whole music) history, when any artist had created two or more masterpieces consecutively. The "know-how" holds perhaps genuine masters only. Propriate names let fill in every man for himself...

And that´s the case of these Finnish talented (but Goodness knows why less known) brothers. After excellent and breathtaking album "Love Remains The Same" is coming another piece, "Stars Aligned". What then we could expect? Flop, average or another successful album?

I mean third option is valid. Not disappointment at all! Five stars is overly though, but this album earns solid and righteous four stars, concededly. Main characters there are (like on another Von Hertzen albums) strong lead vocal and perfect harmonized backing vocals, pleasant but not obtrusive melodies, vitality and passion irradiating from each song, accomplished musicianship of all band members, and, of course, excellent production. I like occasional using of traditional Oriental or Scandinavian folk elements too!

***** songs: I Believe, Miracle, Gloria, Angel´s Eyes, Down By The Sea

**** songs: Voices In Your Heads, Bring Out The Snakes, Repeat Mode, Always Been Right

What to throw in? Surely that´s an extraordinary album from multi-talented, although (meanwhile) undiscovered young band. I´m impatiently expecting their next work!

Report this review (#434340)
Posted Saturday, April 16, 2011 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars A quality Finnish (ouch!)

Released earlier this year (2011), 'Stars aligned' is the Von Hertzen Brothers fourth and latest album. With the five man line up unchanged from 'Love remains the same' (2008), this album appears to indicate a move back towards a desire for commercial success. While the album title is far more prog than the previous album, the Bee Gees style cover image and the relative brevity of the tracks suggest the pop aspects of the band are coming to the fore again.

To be fair, the band have never sought to stifle those pop nuances, but on the last two albums, the commercial basis on which the songs were built was admirably disguised through the band developing them to their full potential. It should also be said that this album achieved great success when it made number one in the band's native Finland.

The heavy riffs of 'Miracle' immediately tell us that this is indeed the Brothers Von Hertzen, the vocals and harmonies being as strong as ever. The song is one of several which are strong on melody and performance, but not as fully nurtured as we have come to expect. The comparisons I have made in the past with Norwegian band Aha remain valid here, particularly on songs such as the delightful 'Voices in our Heads', a track which features an appealing evolving chant. 'Angel's eyes' is another highlight, although once again the song remains relatively straightforward and is highly accessible.

'Bring out the Snakes' is an odd track both in the context of the album and of the band's discography. Starting with some odd dialogue, the track evolves as a complex, schizophrenic prog metal number. Odd as it is, it actually works rather well. The closing track 'I Believe' is the longest at just over 8 minutes. After a brief foray into a Queen style intro, the track settles down as a slightly more ambitiously arranged piece.

Were this review being posted to a general music site, I would simply be reporting that this is a truly great album, and leaving it at that. As this is a specialist site though, I should emphasise that wonderful as the the music is, prog fans should be aware that there is little of that genre here. Recommended for those who simply enjoy good music.

My version of the album includes a bonus track in the form of a live version of 'Freedom fighter' from the previous album.

Report this review (#524085)
Posted Thursday, September 15, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Add equal parts complexity and accessibility into a bowl, stir vigorously.

That's essentially what you get with this, the newest release from Von Hertzen Brothers. I just recently decided to check out this band, after months of deliberation. Boy, do I feel silly for not getting into them sooner. I've thus far listened to their last three releases, from Approach in 2006 up to this, their newest release, in 2011. I've yet to be disappointed.

All of their albums are an absolutely wonderful mix of complex yet approachable songs; songs that could easily be appreciated by both progressive rock aficionados and those into the more accessible side of rock n' roll. You can tell these guys know how to play their instruments, and use them to their fullest extent, without ever delving into excess, as many prog rock bands tend to find themselves lost in. None of the songs on this album feel distended, and are only as long as they need to be... which is another thing this band excels at. This is also an album of catchy melodies, with *gasp* pop sensibilities! I'm sure many progheads would cry foul at the thought of such an idea, but I love it. In fact, I've actually shown this album to many of my non- proggy friends, and I have yet to get a complaint from any of them.

Standout tracks on this album include Miracle, Gloria, Voices in Our Heads, Angel's Eyes, and Bring Out the Snakes. The album as a whole is excellent, however, and there aren't any tracks I found to be particularly weak. It's an album of wildly varying styles and themes, so if you're looking for music with a lot of variety I'd say this is an excellent choice.

Report this review (#597419)
Posted Wednesday, December 28, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Dripping, over-enriched power-nuggets of unadulterated catchiness and melodious joy. Ye gods what a high-octane ride through the more digestible parts of progressive rock!

The purity of this soaring, uplifting euphoria of blistering light and hook-dominated crossover is relentless and oh-so-pleasing. If you expect things to grate, clash or just quietly and discreetly melt together, shield your ears from this zenith-like ray of burning emotionality and harmony.

Von Hertzen Brothers effectively launch a set of songs that grabs you right at your most sentimental, receptive and melodic state of mind, only to lift you ever higher in their rich tapestry of space-atmosphere, tight riff-and-percussion power and die-hard melodiousness. The instruments happily stay safely close together, but often enough still bustlingly independent, in punchy, grandiose and groovy riffs or melodies that eagerly fly away as light as feathers. Clear, razor-sharp harmonies (especially the near omnipresent vocal ones) burst out as often as they're called for. On Stars Aligned, that's pretty much constantly. Calmer bits pleasantly plod along familiar musical walkways in self-assured sincerity and familiarity. Sure, there are the spacious, more atmospheric bits around, where things swirl, resonate, twinkle and pulse more than usually in pop-infused rock of this style. It's rather tense at times, but never very ethereal or ambient, as you might find it in more old-school space rock. Nowhere are you pleasantly lost in time or confused in any way, but rather happily floating on an interesting, but relatively safe river you know will happily reach the sea. And there's a compositional diversity you don't find in your everyday rock band. But despite that, all of this is just another platform on which to launch and contrast the shameless glory of melody and harmony that rise above everything else. I know. Those words keep coming up again and again, but there's a very strong reason for it.

Yes, there are streaks of the familiar and hints of the cliché from all over, but still mixed together and presented with more energy, creative vigour and sincerity than you normally find in this type of music.

So...starry-eyed wonder and orgiastic pleasure in wild, freely flowing torrents of atmospherically infused, direct and eager melodic and harmonic overload and affluent instrumental excess. That's what you get. When properly executed that's a winner in my book. If you disagree, stay far away from Stars Aligned.

4 stars.


Report this review (#1026818)
Posted Sunday, September 1, 2013 | Review Permalink

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