I've been reading reviews for a few years now but this is the first time that I've been compelled to write one. They are without doubt one of the finest bands around today. This album covers an array of styles and you will find yourself listening to it again and again and each time picking up on something new. Bands that seem to have influenced them include Yes, Led Zeppelin, Queen, Pink Floyd and Muse. The first track, Insomniac, also reminds me of Soundgarden, while Lost In Time could be from the first Sabbath album. I could probably write the same review for all their other albums (five including this one, although their debut, called Experience, is very hard to find).
I saw them play in Cardiff on the 6th and they were note perfect. Mikko's range and power reminds me of Chris Cornell and Myles Kennedy. The music was also slightly heavier, including a chunky version of King Crimson's 21st Century Schizoid Man. The only criticism was that they didn't play for longer. I also met two of the brothers (Mikko and Kie) after the gig and they were very nice chaps indeed! All I can say is do yourselves a favour and at least make an effort to listen to them (plenty of videos on YouTube, including cracking versions of Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody and Don't Stop Me Now). If you do then the chances are that you will end up buying all of their music - like I did. I simply can't understand why they are not bigger in the UK than they are at the moment. As Mikko said to me on Saturday - "Spread the word my friend".
Like other reviewers I had only ever heard of the Von Hertzen brothers by listening to Planet rock and bought this album on the strength of "Flowers and rust" and "Insomniac", 2 very different tracks. Having bought it, listened to it and enjoyed it all I can say is WOW!..I want more...shades of Yes, Tull, Sabbath, Zep along with a good helping of unique VHB sounds make this album a "must have" for any rock/prog fan..go get it!
Like many reviewers I picked this album up on the strength of 'Insomniac' and 'Flowers and Rust' and was thus very pleased when the rest of the album didn't follow the formula set by the two songs, instead sending the listener on a sonic journey into a Finnish prog-rock odyssey. All cheese aside though, far too often albums 'fade out', but Nine Lives is not one of these. While definitely worth listening from start to finish to truly comprehend what the band is all about, one would be hard-pressed not to constantly notice their influences plastered all over their tracks. Whether this is the Soundgarden-like stomp of 'Insomniac' - this is a real groovy rocker that cowbells it's way through its duration - the Pink Floyd meets early Sabbath track meets Tim Burton 'Lost in Time', the Porcupine Tree-like 'World Without', the 'Battle for Hadrian's Wall (Black Country Communion)' sound of 'One May Never Know', or the HIM-like delivery on the verses of 'Coming Home', Von Hertzen Brothers still sound a bit like a band finding their own unique sound. However, this isn't necessarily a bad thing. While bands like Wolfmother sound exactly like one or two of their prime influences, Von Hertzen Brothers have a very large amount of influences and makes for continually changing music. Interestingly several tracks, like the aforementioned 'Coming Home', 'Black Heart's Cry' have clear nordic influences, and it makes for somewhat unusual but very listenable tracks. Mikko Von Hertzen's voice is quite a versatile instrument, ranging from a bright gritty tenor wail to a more subdued technique that comes through in the more 'proggy' tracks from this album. Similarly, Kie Von Hertzen's guitar is all over the place, though a very obvious David Gilmour touch can be detected in the more progressive tracks. When listening to the first three songs on this album it is actually quite difficult to tell that this group are actually whats classified as 'prog-rock', almost as though they made a conscious effort to write a couple songs to kickstart shows with ('Insomniac' is usually played first or second in their set). Despite the sometimes heavy-handed application of their influences, 'Nine Lives' is definitely worth the listen, and it will surprise you and intrigue you in equal measure.
At the time of writing Finnish band Von Hertzen Brothers have been releasing music for over 10 years (first album released 2001), yet I had never heard of them until very recently. I purchased this, their fifth studio album, after hearing the opening track 'Insomniac' on Planet Rock radio here in the UK. I have to say that this has very quickly become one of my favourite new albums over some period of time.
Now, just a quick note on how this band's music is classified. Everywhere I look, I see them classed as a 'Prog' band or perhaps 'Prog Rock'. These terms just leave me cold to be honest, and I don't actually think they do much to describe the music. If any classification is needed, just 'Rock band' will do for me. Also, I don't see the need to compare their music to other artists. Sure, influences are there to hear in all of the tunes but this applies pretty much to every rock band that has ever existed. Anyway, there are clearly so many different influences that name-checking any specific acts won't help a potential new listener in my view.
The real strength of this album for me is the diversity of sound and feel across the different songs (I note that for other reviewers this is very much a negative). The aforementioned 'Insomniac' is very much a ballsy rock tune from start to end, whilst lead single 'Flowers and Rust' has a more dramatic 'soaring' feel and ebbs and flows a bit more. 'Coming Home' starts out with the sound of driving drums that eventually lead to a nice contrast between broody verses with deep vocals and an energetic chorus. I think my favourite track at the moment is the fourth, 'Lost in Time' for which a 'spacy' keyboard sound wanders around a slow guitar riff, and which is one of the best tunes on the album for showcasing the harmony vocals that are a trademark of the brothers' sound. 'Separate Forevers' is a very pensive and atmospheric song and is important I think in creating the atmosphere of the album as a whole, but I have to say that it is probably my least favourite track on Nine Lives. 'One may never know' and 'World Without' both again prominently feature those delicious harmony vocals, with the latter also featuring some really nice clean solo guitar refrains. 'Black Hearts Cry' and 'Prospect for Escape' finish off the album. Like all of the album, these two tracks cannot really be directly compared to anything else on the album and therefore for me round it off nicely with a bit more drama here, some lovely harmonic melodies there.
I would definitely suggest giving this album a listen if you like your music varied and thoughtful.
I am on my 3rd listen and I love the variety of music styles, which means this has long legs and will keep me entertained a long time. Variety either within a genre (say Prog rock) or between different styles (say Prog Rock and Rock) will always last inspection and will allow the listener a longer education and understanding. Point being is that the enjoyment in music is the process of actually discovering the music, getting familiar with all the ups and downs. Once that has been completed I think some of the spark is lost (as the music is then set in stone) and the longer that process takes the better. Once there it will not make the music bad, it just becomes a given piece of understood music (which is the stuff one rewinds to for comfort), whereby the initial discovery has no limitations, is exciting and around the corner is that one note or two that one has been waiting for for ever.
So the longer the discovery the better (that is why pop is a dead duck) and the variety on this CD will take time and be pleasurable. I should add that to start the process of discovery the music on first listen needs to 'make sense', to be challenging but within ones comfort zone. As is with this.
This is my first experience with the Brothers and it is quite wonderful.
If you do like this I can also suggest; Hamadryad - Intrusion - This also had a great mixture of styles but would get 5*'s.
Bought this after listening to a free track from classic rock mag-very good cd indeed ,don't know much about this band(Brothers?)but they are very talented indeed and this is a great record with some very well strung together songs-check out the two first songs"Insomniac"my favourite and "Flowers and rust".
I saw these guys supporting the Wildhearts on there U.K tour last weekend and was very impressed, a very diverse album that keeps your ears engaged the whole way through, with influences from the Mama's 7 the Papa's through to Yes, Black Sabbath and Sound Garden very good album...
I ordered this after hearing the brilliant ballard 'Flowers And Rust'on Planet Rock. It kicks off with a great rocker 'Insomniac' and then you are taken on a magical proggy journey with wonderful melodic harmonies and well constructed songs. Its all so different and utterly compelling at the same time. If you are looking for influences then Floyd come to mind on the impressive 'Word Without' which was recorded in a Finnish monastery. This is the brothers fifth studio album and deserves to get them the attention of a large audience in the UK.
I have their best of and bought this on the back of the other reviews.One can only say that there approach and sound is so varied and unique that there is great depth and artitry to what they play.Not for every Progressive follower probably as their style is very much a one off, but no doubting their qualities as Musicians and an interesting absorbing listen