Instrumental and/or Progressive Metal are incredibly tricky beasts to pull off well. Aside from the obvious chops required to make music without vocals that retain attention and engages in its own right, but to pull it off with showing heart and emotion too is an entirely different matter. Formed in 2015 by three prominent UK-based, virtuoso musicians, Toska turned heads with their debut EP Ode To The Author, and based on the technical prowess on this new full-length Fire By The Silos (both self-released), and it is easy to see why.Continue reading →
Download Festival 2018 has made another major announcement, adding 21 bands and WWE NXT Live! Wrestling to the line-up. Added to the bill are Avatar, Andrew W.K., Bad Religion, CKY, Nothing More, Black Foxxes, Hell Is For Heroes and many more. WWE will bring an immersive NXT show starring Aleister Black, Adam Cole, Velveteen Dream, Ricochet, Nikki Cross, Shayna Baszler, Kairi Sane, The Undisputed Era and more. Continue reading →
Already looking stacked with a huge lineup, Download Festival 2018 added 65 more bands today, including Volbeat, Baroness, The Bronx, Hatebreed, Greta Van Fleet, Cradle of Filth, Black Stone Cherry and many more. Download takes place August 8-10 at Donington Park. Full band list and ticket links below. Continue reading →
Acclaimed Finnish rock band Von Hertzen Brothers have shared their new video for the track ‘Long Lost Sailor’. The track comes off of War Is Over, out now via Music Theories Recordings/Mascot Label Group.Continue reading →
The Von Hertzen Brothers have been much covered and much admired across the digital pages of our humble vehicle, in particular, the excellent New Day Rising (Spinefarm). Two years on, and they’re back with the very ambitious War Is Over (Music Theories/Mascot), which further evidences their classic and prog rock sensibilities, and ability to combine them into sumptuous whole pieces. Continue reading →
Von Hertzen Brothers have shared their new lyric video for the title track of their jut released new album, ‘War Is Over’. War Is Over is out now from Music Theories Recordings/Mascot Label Group and you can watch the video below. Continue reading →
On their latest trip to the UK, Ghost Cult caught up with Mikko Von Hertzen of the Von Hertzen Brothers where, over very strong espressos to nurse away hangovers, we talked about touring, more touring and, surprisingly, the joys of cricket….
2015 may be entering its final quarter but for the Von Hertzen Brothers, they can already look back on the last nine months with a combination of pride, satisfaction and, dare we say it, contentment. A universally acclaimed album, tours that seemed to get bigger and bigger and a series of summer festival appearances that cemented their burgeoing popularity… 2015 seems to have been a good year for the Finns.
The last time we spoke, New Day Rising (Spinefarm) was about to drop. This is now your third time back in the UK this year. How have the past few months been?] “(laughing) You know… festivals are really the cream on top of the cake. It’s a totally different experience playing at a festival compared to a club where I can see the faces of the crowd. For me, it’s all about the interaction with the fans – whether the music is making them happy, whether they think you are doing something cool and they get caught up in the vibe of it all. At a festival it’s bang! 15 minute turnaround and bang! 20 minute set and bang! you’re outta there! In those 20 minutes you have to come out, perform and hope you connect with people.”
“At Download, we had no idea at the time if it was going well or not – about 95% of the people who came to see us were new to the band and the stage was so far away from the crowd that it was hard to tell if it was working or not. But, it seems like it had an effect in a good way because our agent told us that at that time of the morning we had 16,000 watching us and the reviews have been very kind so it must have had some effect.’
“If I am being honest though, I am a fan of the smaller more intimate gigs.”
How do you compare that set with the smaller, acoustic one you also played that weekend? Some friends of ours said that they thought you were the highlight of the weekend…
“Oh man, that was an unreal moment. We could see Faith No More in their white suits playing at the same time that we were about to walk on stage and they start playing Epic and we go “Fuck! How do we compete with THAT?!” But that’s good because it’s a challenge and we like a challenge. It was not unlike the time when we toured in Sweden with Opeth and they wanted to do a stripped down version of their show and they asked us to do the same and it was really cool.”
“That acoustic approach is also good for testing the strength of your songs; to see whether they really are as good as you hope they are.”
“You know, looking back on our summer, those Download shows really were a moment for us. At the time, the mayhem, the rain, the quick turnarounds, you don’t appreciate how important it was at the time but looking back it was really important for us.”
So, you’ve book-ended a couple of live dates around your appearance at the Prog Magazine Awards…
“Yeah, we thought we would tag a couple of shows around those as we were already flying everyone over and it was a great decision because it’s good to follow up what we did earlier in the year and say thank you to those people who have been supporting us. The ticket sales have been really good and I feel that every time we come here it feels like it is building and really going somewhere like a step by step progression; people are talking, the band are getting better known and it just feels….right.”
Going off subject for a minute, we read an article about you from back in 2006 that said your favourite sport was cricket, a very English game and not one we would normally associate with the Finnish people. How did that come about?
“Yes, it’s true! I lived in India for seven years and every one of my friends there was crazy about cricket. At first I didn’t get it at all: a bunch of people standing around for hours with nothing happening but once you start to get the rules and what everyone is doing you get into it; I love it. When we were recently on tour there I was “ I should really go and see all the important tourist sites” but I ended up staying in my hotel room for hours and hours just catching up with games, wherever and whenever I could find them! So, yes, I’m a fan!”
So what’s next for the Von Hertzen Brothers?
“For me, I’m moving house! I get the house move sorted and then we have a short break and then, come end of October, beginning of November, we start another European tour….”
How do you keep going? What’s the secret to eternally staying motivated and focused on the road?
“You have to believe in yourself and that you have something worthwhile to offer. For me though it is about the fans. The fans are like a family to us. They are long term friends. In order to keep it going we have to come up with something new and fresh and not repeat yourself. That is a big motivator. When you do come up with something, you get a fresh sense of momentum and that keeps you going too.”
“Being on the road means you can meet new people and that is fantastic. It is part of the reason why we keep coming back to the UK. This is where it all really began for us outside of Finland; not just for our band but in terms of the style of music that we love and the bands that we love. The UK is where we belong musically, this is our spiritual home.”
And with a shake of the hand and a draining of the coffee, we are done.
Ahead of their imminent European tour, everyone’s favourite rocking proggers, Von Hertzen Brothers have teamed up to give away their new Organic Espresso coffee and all you have to do to have a chance of getting some is follow us on Ghost Cult’s Instagram account and like and share our #VHB picture of . Lucky winning followers will be chosen at random.
With their back-to-the-clubs tour kicking off in Southampton, England, on Wednesday 2nd September Mikko von Hertzen had this to say exclusively to Ghost Cult about the tour:
“Towards the end of August, while still playing the huge stages of the summer festivals, we’ve been talking about how cool it is to get back in the sweat and humidity of the clubs. It feels awesome to get to play intimate headlining shows again. It’s like we stuffed ourselves with lots of sweet cake, and now, after a small break we are hungry again. Don’t get me wrong; I love playing the big arenas, but we are actually in dire need for something salty for a change. It might sound like the good ole “grass is greener on the other side” thing, but that’s what makes the whole business of being a rocker so much fun. There is always something to look forward to. And I might add here that personally, I’ve always been greedy for the salty stuff.”
Von Hertzen Brothers last album, New Day Rising (Spinefarm/Universal) was released to commercial success and much critical acclaim, and they have recently released a video for the song ‘Hold Me Up’
The final day of a festival is often filled with many emotions: a wonderful weekend sadly coming to an end; another day spent celebrating brilliant innovative and life affirming music; hours spent trying to dry your tent out… So it again proved with Sunday at Download.
Leaden skies greet the hordes either nursing hangovers of epic proportions or gathering their belongings for the trudge back to cars and the dreaded long trip home. It’s cold on the field so a bit of warming up is required. Bacon rolls and coffee do part of the job but Dead Daisies do the rest in a punchy late morning slot that has a much bigger crowd than perhaps even they were expecting. Dead Daisies inhabit that strange world where it is perpetually 1986, eternally sun-soaked California and every band is the last gang in town, riding steel horses into sunsets or the arms of star crossed maidens. As you have probably guessed, I thought it was terrific and an object lesson in how to warm up a crowd.
Sweden’s h.e.a.t. have gathered plenty of plaudits for their two albums of 80’s inspired rock and from this performance it’s easy to see why – they are pumped full of energy and chutzpah and have a genuine love of big tunes and even bigger riffs. It may not be the most original sound of the day but it does the job very nicely indeed. Finland’s Von Hertzen Brothers finish the morning off in predictably brilliant fashion with vocalist Mikko Von Hertzen channelling his best John Travolta via a natty white suit that he does well not to get covered in the ubiquitous festival mud. The VHB brand of rock is so packed full of intelligence and hummable tunes, particularly the peerless ‘Flowers and Rust’, it does make you scratch your head as to why these guys aren’t absolutely massive but their time will come…..Please make it so.
Backyard Babies’ raucous and efficient cock rock gives way to the studied and equally efficient metal of Mark Tremonti who does Alter Bridge without the tunes (if you’re not a convert) and Alter Bridge with added metal (if you are). I’m in the latter camp, as are most of an appreciative if slightly wet crowd on the main stage. The new songs from his second album, Cauterize seem to stand up equally well with the more familiar tunes from All I Was (both Fret12) too. Boxes ticked, job done.
Blackberry Smoke are the perfect band for a warm sunset, cold beers and a barbecue, so the presence of rain, wind, rain and some more rain probably didn’t help their cause but I found their performance compelling in an insouciant and entirely charming way. Billy Idol, by contrast, is a bit of a man for all seasons and you can tell why: he has an arsenal of hits that most bands would give their right arm for. You have to pinch yourself that this is 2015 and not 1985 but Idol turns in an effortless performance of crowd pleasers that you know and love- of course there’s ‘White Wedding’ and ‘Rebel Yell’ but it’s ‘Flesh for Fantasy’ and ‘Eyes Without a Face’ that are the standout tunes. Idol has this look of a man who won the lottery, the football pools and the EuroMillions over one weekend – he simply cannot quite believe that he is still the draw that he is – and, even more brilliant, no one in the crowd seems to begrudge him one iota of his considerable success. Bless him.
In much the same way that people gripe about Cavalera Conspiracy and how it’s not the REAL Sepultura (yawn, boring, get over it) so there is a similar constituency that seems to surround former Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash and his latest incarnation with Myles Kennedy from Alter Bridge. Honestly, I don’t know what the problem is: what’s not to love about an artist playing a blinding set of classic song after classic song peppered with huge tune after huge tune from his latest solo records? I tell you what’s not to love: nothing. Slash clearly writes mega tunes in his sleep and his set is one hour of aural bliss. The 55,000 or so on the main field lap it up like a horde of very thirsty Pavlovian dogs. And rightly so.
Lamb of God, photo by Susanne A. Maathuis
Likewise, the same old situation (song pun entirely intended) for LA’s Motley Crue. Crue, midway through a thoroughly deserved and valedictory world tour to say farewell are another act that many can’t seem to wait to sneer at. “It would be better if Vince Neil could sing better”- kids, Vince Neil hasn’t been able to sing since 1981. This isn’t the point at all. Crue are about the glamour, the sleaze, the rock, the roll, the girls, girls, girls. They bring a show that is part rock opera, part vaudeville, all fire and brimstone. Of course they are absurd and ridiculous- THAT IS THE WHOLE POINT. It is absolutely silly and absolutely brilliant- all at the same time.
And so we come, finally, inexorably, to the self-styled hottest band in the world, Kiss. Arriving on site in a fully badged up Kiss-copter, the New York quartet turn this corner of a foreign field into a veritable circus of pomp, circumstance and old style rock n roll. There are stadium rock shows and then there is a Kiss show. There isn’t one second that passes by in this blistering set where there isn’t something going on – fireworks, drum risers, zip wires, crowd singalongs, flame throwing, blood vomiting all in glorious technicolour and all set to a soundtrack that you know and love. As an end to the best music festival I know, it is both fitting and invigorating.
The Tufnell Park Dome in darkest North London has had a bit of a resurgence of late with its mid-sized entertainment room being more regularly frequented by touring bands that Ghost Cult readers would heartily approve of. So it’s here we schlepp off to, catching up with our favourite brothers in rock music, the Von Hertzens. Tube delays and refreshment catch ups mean we miss most of the set by the charming and sprightly indie/glam/rock stomp music of Ulysses for which, if the last few songs were any indication, we are very sorry about. Next time, gents, I promise.
Black Wolf play muscular heavy metal, reminiscent of Judas Priest or Iron Maiden or – well, insert any number of hard rockin’ bands here – and they are pretty decent if you like this sort of thing, which, judging by the enthusiasm of the crowd here tonight, many people evidently do. There’s not much that you haven’t heard before but they do a decent set that leaves you warming to them and wishing them well. Given the crowded market place within which they have decided to play their art, it is important you get people on your side: they certainly did tonight.
We are all here for the Von Hertzens though and the room seems to fill almost instantly with less than five mins to their arrival on stage. A loud and almost valedictory opening of ‘New Day Rising; sets the bar at an astonishingly high level which, to their credit, they not only stick to but,on ‘Flowers and Rust’, they move into another league altogether; its swooning harmonies and melody leaving many wondering whether they had, ahem, something in their eye. ‘Black Rain’ has a larger sense of brooding and foreboding than perhaps original listens on record would suggest and ‘Let Thy Will Be Done’ is funkier than a funk convention. Or something. ‘Freedom Fighter’ is full of verve and panache and makes you feel a little bit better with the world; a bit like the band themselves to be honest.
This evening’s performance is full of charm, warmth and energy; they have a brilliant talent that they showcase with a level of insouciant charm and brilliance. This is a band who have gathered their mojo up and twisted it gloriously – they are a fine group of songwriters with not just a cracking new album to promote but a back catalogue of enviable riches. As my companion said to me, tonight felt like a bit of a privilege seeing them. Well said. Glorious, glorious stuff.