Von Hertzen Brothers – Red Alert In The Blue Forest: Album Review

Von Hertzen Brothers on a new prog and folk tinged but genre defying collection.

Release Date: 18th March 2022

Label: Doing Being Music

Format: CD / digital / vinyl

A band who always seems to be somewhere on (usually hovering below) the radar. A band who seemingly get lumped in with the progressive crew. A band who we really should make the effort to take some notice of. So here goes, finally, in at the deep end with an album that holds the sort of status to earn the full page lead review in PROG mag.

The theme of the album comes with the premise that the harmony in the blue forest is gone. There exists an imbalance with red alert warnings going off everywhere. The solution comes in the Von Hertzen Brothers’ artistic interpretations. The visions of three individuals becoming the vision of one. Decked out on the cover in crowns of flower garlands, are they they messiahs set to bring the balance back?

The typical hard to classify band, Von Hertzen Brothers seem to fit the ‘strange with some hooks’ bill. Within a few minutes of appearing “in the lakes by the wood” a driving rock beast rears its head and the delicious harmonies of Day Of Reckoning accelerate off the blocks, I’ve got Pure Reason Revolution spinning round my head. The spoken word/electronic patter and ethereal ambience on Blue Forest rings the Public Service Broadcasting bell and having established some familiar reference points, the feeling of warm security, we can relax and enjoy.

Moving into the ethnic vibe of The Promise, the folk force appears strong. It’s very organic and even rustic with a hint of traditional instruments based on a tribal beat and the band’s Finnish roots. One that you could appreciate would work well in the hands of Percy Plant. What becomes clear is that much of the album has a pastoral feel that sits in harmony with the subject matter. All Of A Sudden, You’re Gone has moments that fit the country Americana bill; peaceful harmonics and the accessibility of what could be progressive pop that carries Peace Patrol is countered with the occasional more challenging moment. Across ten minutes, the latter veers off in an ethnic direction and into a dense and ultimately uplifting sax-led passage that bounces from one climax to another before drifting and breaking into a cloud of vapour.

From the sublime to the ridiculous as The Pirates Of Raseborgian a jaunty electro-shanty interlude before the gentle acoustic folk flavour takes hold again and any walls of sound tend towards the rustic and percussive. The beauty of Anil is another fine example of the meticulous songcraft on show as the tumble of guitar notes sit in front of an ethereal ambience. I’ve gone right back to 1970 an the first proper Genesis album via CSN&Y.

The Space Rock journey they take on Northern Lights is an exciting combo of a One Of These Days bassline with a cool jazz intermission that evolves into a Weather Report-ish vein and rounds off with a return to the excitement of the Von Hertzen rock tropes. And for good measure, we draw to a close with morein th intimate vein that’s not just been hinted at but plays a major part in the balance of the album. There’s more than a dash of melancholy as they sing of being “a ghost without a home,” – in fact, repeated listening reveals an unexpected emotional force.

A lot to take in for the new fan but a lot to admire. The beauty of discovering a ‘new’ band is the chance for the thrill of discovery as we head off into the back catalogue. For some of us, Red Alert In The Blue Forest is a good point at which to make the leap into the wonderful world of the Von Hertzen Brothers. Those who’ve already taken the jump will nod sagely, knowing that the new album is another landmark in the history of this unique outfit.

Here’s All Of A Sudden You’re Gone:

Von Hertzen Brothers online: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Youtube / Soundcloud

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