Let me just start by saying that I love the Von Hertzen Brothers. I’ve loved every album and really they can do no wrong in my eyes (and ears). Having said that, I was not prepared for just how amazing their new album “War is Over” turned out to be. If VHB needed a “definitive” album, they certainly have made one with “War is Over.” The album showcases ALL of the sides of the brothers: prog, pop, rock, their great sense of melody and powerful lyrics.
The album starts with the epic title track which is now my favorite VHB song ever. It’s bigger than ever, bolder than anything they’ve done and for me, their most purely progressive song ever. It has sections, transitions and a truly memorable chorus. It’s one of the best songs of 2017. It also COULD have been what I call a “black hole” song. A “black hole” song is one that’s so great that it sucks the rest of the album into it and you forget the other songs exist.
The good news is that the rest of this album is so strong that the title track does not make them wilt and die. Part of the magic of this album is that the brothers went off and wrote songs separately. When they reconvened, each one produced the songs that they wrote. Rather than having a disjointed album, it allowed each track to be unique from the other songs. You remember EACH song in the process. Mikko wrote and produced “To The End of the World,” “The Arsonist,” “Frozen Butterflies” and “Beyond Horizon.” Kie wrote and produced the epic title track, “Who Are You?,” “Long Lost Sailor,” “Wanderlust” and “Jerusalem.” While Jonne wrote and produced “Blindsight.”
Another bit of good news was the return of drummer Sami Kuoppamäki, who was on VHB’s first album “Approach.” He immediately makes his presence felt on that title track. The drumming on that song alone is absolutely insane. OK so about the other songs. “The Arsonist” is that catchy prog pop that VHB do so well. It’s probably one of the few tracks that would not have sounded out of place on their last album, the arena rock album “New Day Rising.” But the track is perhaps more complex while still having an awesome hook.
Other songs I love range from the insistent rocking of “Frozen Butterflies” to the near gallop of “Long Lost Sailor.” “Who Are You?” is another favorite because of how long it just simmers. You know things are going to boil over but it’s that tension that keeps it you on the edge. When it does kick in, it actually punches you a couple of time before really going on. Amazing arrangement of an awesome song. Jonne’s “Blindsight” has an awesome bass line (of course) but also a bit of a Middle Eastern “slinkiness” to it. Of course, it has a killer chorus too!
The album closes with the equally epic “Beyond the Storm” which bookends perfectly with the title track. It just doesn’t get better than this. “War is Over” is a true masterpiece and a defining moment for the Von Hertzen Brothers. By breaking down their sound, they’ve combined all of the things they’ve learned over the years into one cohesive musical statement. This is one of 2017’s best albums and a candidate for my album of the year.
1. War Is Over
2. To The End Of The World
3 .The Arsonist
5. Frozen Butterflies
6. Who Are You?
8. Long Lost Sailor
10. Beyond The Storm