Von Hertzen Brothers — Red Alert In The Blue Forest (Doing Being Music)

Sometimes you just can’t see the wood for the trees.

And, let’s face it, Von Hertzen Brothers have a habit for over-complicating their unique take on ‘rock’.

But Red Alert In The Blue Forest manages to fuse its lofty ambitions with genuine focus.

It’s a remarkable record rooted in the brothers’ deep affinity to nature.

Yes, the album’s underlying, heartfelt plea to treat our planet with respect is very on trend.

And yet VHB successfully avoid a potentially catastrophic descent into environmental cliché.

Red Alert In The Blue Forest is forceful, thought-provoking and intense.

Much like every other piece of meticulously crafted VHB art, it’s also infuriatingly impossible to categorise with any real confidence.

Classic rock, folk, blues, prog? Who cares?

Classification’s not the point here.

Jonne, Kie and Mikko have never been beholden to the genre-obsessed circus.

And it’s reassuring to learn that their latest long player is a typically bold amalgam of musical twists and thematic turns.

Red Alert In The Blue Forest isn’t easily accessible.

It’s almost old fashioned in its demand to be enjoyed as one immersive whole.

Don’t even try to dip in and out of the 11 tracks here and expect to enjoy the full VHB experience.

To appreciate this groundbreaking band at their magical best it’s absolutely necessary to plot your course in conventional track order.

Deviate from the path and you’ll pay a heavy price.

Von Hertzen Brothers shine like Northern Lights

Laying their cards in the table, VHB kick off with the mighty Day Of Reckoning.

It’s an ethereal Yes-like introduction to a seriously affecting record.

But what about the dense, kaleidoscopic Blue Forest?

Nine minutes of marvellous, meandering, majestic, freeform music showcases this brilliant band’s true potential.

Haunting vocals, understated keys and a jazzy slow-build make for one of the most progressive pieces of music here.

Peace Patrol further pushes the envelope: it’s jaunty 80s-esque New Romantic vibe juxtaposed with a fervent, unforgiving message. And some serious sax.

Red Alert In The Blue Forest might hark back to the brothers’ childhood, when all three siblings would spend their summers roaming the forests of northern Finland.

But lyrically this is a record that points to the future as much as it looks back fondly on a simpler, more placid past.

By reinforcing their historical connection to nature and our planet, Jonne, Kie and Mikko double down on their credentials as latter-day environmental crusaders.

Skip to Northern Lights and it’s possible to hear the unique sounds of the Aurora Borealis, as captured by Professor Unto K. Lane.

So very VHB, it’s an unexpected treat and a mind-boggling trip into the mysterious and the magical. 

Red Alert In The Blue Forest is all about harmony — socially, environmentally and, of course, musically. 

Still can’t see the wood from the trees? This is the record you’re looking for.