Progressive and melodic, yet at times heavy and more doomy, Nine Lives shows that The Von Hertzen Brothers have a very broad view of what Rock Music can be. Their compositions range from atmospheric, Pink Floyd-esque sci-fi trips, to heavy rocking ball breakers. During all of this mix, however, this Finnish group remain very melodic and soulful.
The band uses their great musical talents to make interesting and complex music which doesn't come across as ostentatious or too flashy. They make use of more interesting scale choices and unusual harmonic progressions and folky aspects of music from their native Finland. Lyrically, they are influenced by as diverse subjects as the works of William Blake and Indian philosophy. Musically, the band relies upon atmospheric songwriting and vocal harmonies for their progressive edge, staying away from million note solos and ridiculously fast passages.
Nine Lives is VHB’s 5th album, and their biggest to date, coming after 2011’s Stars Aligned, which began to break them in the UK, and gained them recognition with nominations in the Classic Rock awards.
The album opens with the groovy rocker “Insomniac”, which shows that the band can remain melodic whilst playing heavy music. This is followed by the album’s lead single, “Flowers and Rust”, which flows and spins from light melodies to harder choruses. These differences in styles continue throughout the rest of the album, each track showing a different side of the band, yet remaining a coherent whole.
Overall this is a fantastic modern prog album which manages to avoid falling into many of the traps which contemporary progressive music tends to fall into (Putting far more emphasis on harsh vocal sounds or being much more over the top with speedy passages and complex instrumental and solo sections than is necessary.)