“Blackout! I really had a blackout!” Yes, I know that’s a Scorpions song – and album. I would say it’s a brave move to name your new album with the same title as hard rock and metal’s most classic and well-known anthems. I think for anyone who’s been around for long enough and for rock fans that are really into both new and old hard rock, the title Blackout equals Scorpions. To name your album Blackout is like naming your new record Shout At The Devil or Love Gun – you run the risk of people focusing on the classic album in question rather on your own album. I thought of the Scorpions right away when I saw the title of Audrey Horne’s new record but at the same time I think it’s pretty cool to just not give a rat and just do what the hell you want. Nobody owns a name, kind of. Now, I have known about this Norwegian classic hard rock band for years so an album title really doesn’t make a difference to me, but maybe for someone who is new to this band it will.
Be that as it may, Audrey Horne is a band I more or less stumbled over when I first heard them. It wasn’t by a record company download link or anything like that, I just read about them and noticed something there that I found interesting enough and decided to check them out. Since I really liked said album – Youngblood (2013) – I decided that I would follow the band in the future. Still, I have yet to check out their three earlier albums but from what I have read, those albums are in a more grungy / alternative style, which isn’t really my thing. The follow-up Pure Heavy (2014) was even better so this album is one I have been looking forward to – and with some expectations to come along with it. For a more in-depth look at Audrey Horne’s history as a band, go back to my prior reviews of the band. Now to the album.
Opener “This Is War” is a real jawbreaker. This uptempo hard rock meets metal piece lends some from Iron Maiden’s bouncy style but also has one feet in progressive hard rock territory. At the same time the tune sports a main melody and a chorus that’s very memorable. It’s fast and heavy but very melodic. The song is so magnificent that I wonder how on Earth the rest of the album is going to follow it without sounding weak. But “Audrevolution” sends all those worries out the window. Tough, heavy and ballsy, this pretty raw and stripped hard rocker puts on an addictive groove and a right-in-your-face chorus that goes for the KO right there. Bang. Boom. The title track comes along as classic hard rock with a bad-ass groove and a refrain that leaves you gasping for air. It’s raunchy and heavy but melodic and catchy and Audrey Horne makes it clear that “Blackout” by no means belongs to the Scorpions alone. Hell yeah!
“This One” brings on a 70’s classic rock twist and it reminds me of Thin Lizzy’s “Don’t Believe A Word” in the verses. It’s a bit on the darker side and at times it’s a bit laid-back but still holds an enormous groove that makes it hard to stand still. Really good stuff. “Midnight Man”, on the other hand, is rougher and more attitude-laden. It’s very much straight-forward hard rock with a slight chunk of metal waved in. It’s a more take-no-prisoners rocker that goes straight for the throat. “Light Your Way” is a rocker with a big metal groove, chugging guitars and a tough beat but the song’s refrain goes more in the melodic rock vein. There’s a slight progressive touch as well and then there’s a Hammond that comes in and gives the tune a 70’s classic rock twist. This is great stuff, folks. The 70’s and 80’s hard rock and metal meets in this Iron Maiden dates Thin Lizzy type rocker called “California”. It has a distinct groove and a chorus that strikes hard and is very memorable without being radio-friendly or hit-laden. A killer!
“Satellite” is a very groovy, classic rock song that’s very in your face. It borrows as much from The Rolling Stones as from more standard hard rock. It comes with a rhythm that’s right on the border of being funky which brings out a really distinctive groove. I can see this one going down live like an ace. “Naysayer” comes with a ballsy and edgy, riff-happy influence from early 80’s heavy metal but when the guitar solo joins in, I hear Thin Lizzy once again. While the lyrics covers negativity, the melodies are more party-laden and joyful and in the end, the tune comes out as really catchy. And the Thin Lizzy influence comes back even harder with the twin leads in the closing track “Rose Alley”, an uptempo, dynamic and very swinging classic hard rocker. The catchiness of the chorus is glistening and the groove is intense – brilliant.
Two bonus tracks then follows, if you get the limited edition . The first is called “Juggernaut” and is pure melodic hard rock with a rough beat and a hard bottom. Thee’s some really good riffing here and the foundation here is 70’s hard rock but with an 80’s melodic rock twist in the vocal melodies. Very good. The second one is called “The End” and is a slower tune, almost ballad-like but in a dark, heavy and earthy way. The 70’s shines through here but it still sticks right off the bat. The tune really stands out and it’s really a waste that it have been degraded to only a bonus track. Besides, it’s an awesome song.
First, I mention Thin Lizzy quite frequently in this review but I must stress that this band is not by any means a some kind of Lizzy-clone. They only borrows a few things here and there – and it works splendidly. That said, this is yet another great album by this lot. Not only are the songs very good but the whole production and sound is is very dynamic and rough with lots of punch and bottom but at the same time it’s very well-produced and catchy which makes it an easy listen and memorable. The guys have also managed to create not only their own identity but a sound of their own – it’s easy to spot an Audrey Horne tune right away. Style wise, their music lands somewhere between 70’s and 80’s hard rock and metal in a fine mix. This is album # 6 and it’s time for these guys to get some wide recognition because they damn well deserve it. Do yourself – and them – a big favour and discover these guys. Yesterday!
More Audrey Horne reviews:
1. This Is War
4. This One
5. Midnight Man
6. Light Your Way
10. Rose Alley
11. Juggernaut (Bonus track)
12. The End (Bonus track)