Review: Von Hertzen Brothers – Nine Lives (Album)

vhb4Band: Von Hertzen Brothers
Release: Nine Lives
Release Date: Out Now!

Finnish prog giants Von Hertzen Brothers set out to create a work that stresses the accessible side of their sound with this fifth studio offering, but somewhere down the line their progressive instincts took over and everything spun out of control.

On ‘Nine Lives’ the brothers pit rock n roll licks against pop choruses, classically inspired instrumentations and crazy synth lines. Lead single ‘Flowers And Rust’ is a perfect realisation of their stated aim with the record, and is an excellent piece of prog-turned-pop designed to be suitable for radio airplay.

One of the great strengths of this album, though, is how musically diverse it is. As well as containing a healthy dose of high-octane rock numbers, there’s a whole sonic buffet of other sounds and influences to enjoy: ‘Coming Home’’s bouncy indy-rock chorus initially struck us as sounding out of place, but rapidly grew to be one of our favourite tracks. Atmospheric slow-burner ‘Separate Forevers’ masterfully deploys eerie synth pulses and echoing guitar lines while Mikko von Hertzen’s haunting vocal work drives the song forwards, and the medieval a cappella vocal harmonies that open ‘World Without’ are epic in a similar way, not least because of how rare it is to find styles like this integrated so seamlessly into a rock record.

After the reflective middle section of ‘Nine Lives’ – a deliberate artistic choice by the band to create an interesting listening experience – the brothers kick things back up a gear with ‘Black Heart’s Cry’, a driven folky number that wouldn’t sound madly out of place on ‘The Hobbit‘ soundtrack (if it weren’t for the soaring synth lines) and ‘Time&Summer’, which brings the album to a close in exactly the fashion we’ve come to expect from these crazy Finns, as they whistle the song’s main hook before launching into an awesome synth solo during the breakdown.

Von Hertzen Brothers went into the studio intending to write an album of accessible songs that were simpler than their previous material. However, the end result is a collection with more variety on it than anything they’ve produced before. Although there are a couple of tracks that don’t quite hit the mark, as long as you like your music sounding a little odd, there’s plenty to love about ‘Nine Lives’.

7/10

Reviewer: Solomon Radley

About Solomon Radley

Author, copywriter and music journalist, with a degree in philosophy and an NCTJ certificate in journalism. Follow me on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/SolomonRadley
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