|Audrey Horne - ‘Youngblood’ (Napalm)|
|Written by Johnny H|
|Thursday, 28 February 2013 03:00|
When I was advised by a fellow Uber scribe of (shall we say) a more classic rock bent, that I should get my shaven head out of my arse and check out this, the fourth album by Bergen's Audrey Horne, I must admit I was half thinking said individual was simply taking the piss.
I mean obvious David Lynch/Twin Peaks influenced name link aside, Audrey Horne (the band) had never struck me as being anything other than just another Euro black/thrash metal act, perhaps they might have had a bit of punk edge, largely due to heavily tattooed singer Toschie looking like he could stand in for Roger Miret at a minutes notice, but how wrong could my initial impressions be Uber Rockers? That's because here with the band's first record for Napalm they have somehow managed to release one of the best heavy metal albums I’ve had the pleasure of listening to in a very very long time.
The signs were already there that Audrey Horne were never going to be just another metal band though, Joe Baressi had produced their last critically acclaimed ‘Self Titled’ album, whilst this time around ‘Youngblood’ is produced by esteemed Norwegian folk singer/songwriter Magnet. So by taking a chance and bringing in this added pair of “non metal” eyes and eyes, what the five guys in Audrey Horne have actually done within the eleven songs that make up this superb album, is conjure up the real spirit of why I first got into hard rock music in the first place, albeit whilst pouring liberal amounts of glorious almost pop like melody all over it.
There are nods to the past with tracks like on the cruising anthem 'There Goes A Lady' or the album's bludgeoning opener ‘Redemption Blues’, but the band’s secret is to never make it sound contrived, and again this is largely achieved thanks to Toschie’s keen ear for a melody. In fact on the album’s title track he almost adds an early Michael Stipe edge to the otherwise chugging Sabbathy rifferama.
However don't let my love a pop melody lull you into thinking this opus doesn't rock like a bastard, because ‘Youngblood’ is as heavy as anything that Minus ever produced, whilst it also has the modern edge of say… Sign, and somehow even manages to out riff the mighty Graveyard. I must like this record a hell of a lot because can even stomach the piratey Maiden riffing of “This Ends Here” largely because the vocal prowess of Toschie makes things very listenable indeed. I mean c’mon who wouldn’t chuckle along to a lyric that starts “Howdy boys, Anchors aweigh”?
Perhaps the truly defining moment of this record is during the album's second ' Straight Into Your Grave' where over a prime time Accept like mid tempo guitar riff Toshie once again unleashes a vocal melody that fair makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. Likewise he does this all over again during the Ghost-esque prog rock splendor of 'Cards With The Devil'. Now to do that once would indeed indicate a quality tune, but to do it twice harks more towards musical genius at work.
Look, for someone who has been out of love with hard rock/heavy metal for quite a long time this album is a welcome burst of acrid hard rock death breath that has me throwing the horns and shaking my head like a teenager all over again. So don't let appearances deceive you because 'Youngblood' really is a classic rock record in every sense. Now go spread the Audrey Horne word and let's make these guys megastars.