Album Review: AUDREY HORNE Blackout
So, what's the deal with Norway and metal anyway? How does a country with a total population equalling that of Los Angeles produce so many incredible bands? Does it have something to do with the relative isolation and relaxed lifestyle compared to that of, say, North America? Is it the abundance of clean drinking water? How about the clean, crisp air? Maybe it's the natural beauty of the land – the vast mountains, fjords, Northern Lights, midnight sun? Perhaps it's the lore of their brethren – the epic stories of Nordic gods and heroic vikings.
Whatever it is, it doesn't get much better than Norway. Of course, we've all heard it before – Norway's biggest cultural export is… you guessed it… black metal. Well, this could very well change in the near future, if releases from some of the non-grim, non-corpsepainted are to be believed. Bands such as Kvleretak, Animal Alpha, Motorpsycho, Leprous, and Audrey Horne have put Norway on the hard rock world map, trading in chain-mail, spikes, and satan for booze, blow, butts, and balls-out bravado.
If you know your Twin Peaks lore, you know only one of the above-mentioned bands derives its name from a character of said show; a character whose fate left many fans with unanswered questions for many, many years. Unlike their namesake, Audrey Horne, the band, does not leave their fans hanging. Throughout their thirteen year existence the guys have managed to deliver six solid-as-fuck albums which, more than anything, showcase Audrey Horne as the best hard rock band America never produced.
This is no more evident than their 2010 eponymous effort, which recalled the best parts of American heavyweights Alice In Chains, Soundgarden, and Faith No More – delivered with a Thin Lizzy-meets-The Who– meets-Led Zeppelin-esque machismo. This combination of testosterone-fuelled garage rock and stadium rock histrionics literally inhibits the growth of thick, coarse mountain man hair on the faces of even the most follicly challenged.
Here we are in 2018 – once again ready to tackle the winter season with a rock 'n' roll man beard of epic proportions. What better way to get the year started than a big heaping dose of brand new Audrey Horne? Enter the aptly-titled Blackout, an album filled with hook after memorable hook after memorable goddamn hook – so many bloody head-dizzying hooks that it's ill-advised to even stand, let alone walk, for fear of blacking out. This thing is seriously that good.
This is the kind of album that, if given the chance, could take American rock radio by storm. Songs such as "Audrevolution", with its pop-punk vs. Anti-Flag-like swagger, are delivered with a mainstream sensibility, yet never at the expense of balls-out braggadoccio. This ensures that both rebellious thirteen year olds girls and badass, bearded bikers can both get something out of it. Genius, really.
The best song within the dozen on display definitely belongs to lead-off track "This Is War". With its fist-pumping, anthemic ode to both Rush and Iron Maiden, its a song whose indelible chorus will leave you humming it for weeks on end. In fact, don't be surprised if, like the pied-piper, you turn around to find a procession of hypnotized humans humming right along with you. This thing is that infectious.
Quite honestly, if the world ended tomorrow for our beloved boys in Iron Maiden, rest assured that Audrey Horne could fill that gap with ease. This is in no way a slight at Maiden. Not at all. I'm simply saying that Audrey Horne, with Blackout, have perfected Maiden's high-energy, horn-waving, headbanging, chant-inducing blueprint, minus all the pomp and circumstance and fluffier moments found scattered throughout Harris and crew's repertoire.
Audrey Horne, unlike Britain's best, who, in the past, have shit-talked punk, are not afraid to inject some brackish, three-chord moments into their metal… and it works. It really, REALLY works! If one were to take the best moments of Thin Lizzy, Uriah Heep, and Van Halen, dumped those moments into a space-aged Iron Maiden replicator, stuffed the finished product into a gigantic space cannon, and then shot that muthrfkr into a planet filled with contemporary garage rock and punk bands, well, you'd have yourself a planet seeded with Blackout.
Make no mistake about it, Blackout is a metal album through and through; though, a metal album that reflects the open-mindedness and carefree attitude of the country it was born. Norge.