Finnish trio, Von Hertzen Brothers, Mikko, Jonne and Kie have been playing together for nearly 18 years now and War Is Over is their fifth studio album. It may have slipped under many people's radar when it came out in November last year but hopefully this situation is about to be redressed because, quite frankly, this is an absolute barnstormer of an album.
Within the hour it spans, the Brothers take us on a rollercoaster ride through power prog at its best. It's too melodic to be passed off as prog metal and too heavy, sophisticated and thoughtful to be simply written off as prog pop. They occupy a unique space on record and manage to recreate the excitement and drama in their live shows.
The title track opener is a celebration of peace, beginning with crackling airwaves, a huge distorted guitar riff against a backdrop of eerie sound effects that suddenly explodes into life, huge guitar riffs making it a perfect storm. The central melody goes through many incarnations, including the introduction of “waterfall” vocal effects and immense guitar sequences.
The End Of The World keeps up the momentum, a brilliantly-structured song that incorporates a hard-edged melody which speeds up then slows down, but the Brothers have their foot right on the gas throughout
Hard rocking and full-on, The Arsonist seems to make a tentative start but all that changes when a huge percussive passage, that includes a drum solo, comes in to steer it through some wonderful instrumental sections and terrific refrain.
Jerusalem is another cracking song, featuring guest musician, Janne Burton Puurtinen (HIM) on synths, while Frozen Butterflies might just fall into the category of prog pop, elevated by some wonderful cascading guitars.
Who Are You takes a slightly different tack, starting as an acoustic ballad but turning itself into another immense soundscape, full of intensity and passion.
Some inventive keyboards lift Blindsight and turn it into another brilliant hell for leather track, while Long Lost Sailor sees them working out in a different, more cinematic groove.
Wanderlust is a return to the Brothers' softer side, a dreamy ballad-like song that does not overdo the instrumentation and again offers another fascinating dimension to the album.
The curtain comes down with the stately and majestic Beyond The Storm that brings the album full circle, “War is over” sung during the refrain - and frankly, it leaves you wanting much much more.
***** Alison Reijman
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