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Von Hertzen Brothers

Crossover Prog

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Von Hertzen Brothers Stars Aligned album cover
3.82 | 131 ratings | 5 reviews | 21% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2011

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Miracle (4:05)
2. Gloria (4:40)
3. Voices in Our Heads (6:49)
4. Angel's Eyes (5:57)
5. Down by the Sea (4:33)
6. Bring Out the Snakes (6:50)
7. Repeat Mode (6:51)
8. Always Been Right (3:58)
9. I Believe (8:08)

Total Time 51:51

Bonus track on 2011 Spinefarm special edition:
10. Freedom Fighter (live) (4:56)

Line-up / Musicians

- Mikko Von Hertzen / vocals, guitars
- Kie Von Hertzen / guitars, vocals
- Jonne Von Hertzen / bass, vocals

- Juha Kuoppala / keyboards
- Ville Riippa / keyboards (3,6)
- Klaara Pyrhönen / violin & addit. vocals (1,7)
- Juho Viljanen / trombone (7)
- Mikko Kaakkuriniemi / drums, orchestral percussion
- Chris Cote / voice of "Mr. Beelzebub" (6)

Releases information

Artwork: Ville Granroth with Kira Gluschkoff (photo)

LP Universal Music Group ‎- 2765382 (2011, Finland)

CD Universal Music Group ‎- 2762804 (2011, Finland)
CD Spinefarm Records (2011) W/ 1 bonus track

Thanks to passionist for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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VON HERTZEN BROTHERS Stars Aligned ratings distribution

(131 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(21%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(45%)
Good, but non-essential (22%)
Collectors/fans only (9%)
Poor. Only for completionists (4%)

VON HERTZEN BROTHERS Stars Aligned reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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.

Review by Starhammer
4 stars "Don't you rain on my parade..."

For me, Stars Aligned was one of the biggest surprises of the year. Anyone who has listened to their previous record, Love Remains the Same, will know that Von Hertzen Brothers are pure class. But it can also be difficult to follow up a masterpiece with something that doesn't just simply just fall under its shadow. In this respect I expected Stars Aligned would be a good, but non essential three stars, and my initial impressions confirmed that. However, it would seem that the brothers just don't know when to give up and let me write an easy review explaining how inferior Stars Aligned should be.

The Von Hertzen Brothers are all fantastic instrumentalists, but what sets them apart from the now crowded crossover marketplace is their ability to write consistently excellent songs. Anyone can write a catchy riff, or a memorable chorus, and that is what the majority of popular music is about these days. But to be able to make your music both accessible and interesting, that is talent. Every time I listen to this album I notice something new and the individual tracks keep getting better and better.

Whilst none of the songs on Stars Aligned reach the heights of Bring Out the Sun (So Alive), Spanish 411 or Somewhere in the Middle, they certainly come close, and I would actually say that Stars Aligned is a more consistent, well rounded record. This is partially because none of the songs on this albums are complete write-offs, even the lesser ones have some redeeming feature, whereas I never looked forward to hearing I Came for You or In the End from their previous record.

The other great thing about Stars Aligned is its diversity. Sure, Love Remains the Same features more musical references than you could shake a stick at, but Stars Aligned has evolved into something even more eclectic, whilst remaining true to their original sound. They could have easily just rested on their laurels and created a glorified rehash of Love Remains the Same, but the touch of experimentation they bring to Stars Aligned is not only admirable, it also works really well.

I'm not sure if Stars Aligned had any single release, but if it didn't then is should have been the album opener, Miracle. Actually the same could be said for Gloria as both are reasonably short, catchy songs with tight instrumental passages. Then comes, Voices in Our Heads, it is probably my least favourite on the album, but really picks up towards the end for a great finale. Likewise, Angel's Eyes never really had me captivated from the start, but then out of nowhere comes this incredible guitar solo! Alas it is too short, but the strong synth section afterwards more than makes up for this. Down by the Sea brings the album's calmest moment, a really nice change of pace but far from being stripped back, this track is just as engaging as the rest.

And then there is Bring Out the Snakes. When I first heard it, I didn't just dislike it, I hated it! What is all this blabber cemented onto the intro?! A bulbous puss on the face of an otherwise decent album. It annoyed me so much that I failed to take notice of the amazing guitar and keyboard interplay that came after it. With more hooks than a pirate convention, it builds then evolves, then builds some more, never taking a breath and flowing seamlessly into the trademark VHB crescendo. Since then I've actually grown very fond of the one-sided dialogue which opens the piece, and this track is my favourite on the album.

Repeat Mode is a hypnotic, spaced out piece, quite unlike the rest of the album and reminds me at times of the British band Elbow. Always Been Right, is another fast paced track, but the main attraction this time are the clever lyrics which somehow manage to tell an interesting story in just under four minutes. The finale, I Believe is another personal highlight and when I listen I hear a mixture of Rush, Muse and Motorpsycho.

If you are already familiar with Von Hertzen Brothers then you will know that their music has so many layers that simply leaving it on in the background won't do it justice. The more time you spend with this album, the more you will get out. But if you are new to the band then I would still recommend Love Remains the Same as the best starting point.

The Verdict: Four stars aligned.

Review by LinusW
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Italian Prog Specialist
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.


Latest members reviews

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 soon ... (read more)

Report this review (#597419) | Posted by AgentSpork | Wednesday, December 28, 2011 | Review Permanlink

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. P ... (read more)

Report this review (#434340) | Posted by Gandalff | Saturday, April 16, 2011 | Review Permanlink

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