Audrey Horne – Blackout (Napalm)

Tuesday, 23rd January 2018
Rating: 8.5/10

Now six releases into their career, Norway’s Audrey Horne are certainly a standby when it comes to classic hard rock. With some established names in the scene for far heavier acts (Enslaved, Gorgoroth), Audrey Horne slyly eschews all of the metallic beating and trades it in for honest-to-goodness guitar licks and catchy musicianship. Where ‘retro’ to many in this scene means Black Sabbath-y stoner rock, Blackout provides more anthemic and fist-pumping material to energize your day.

Some sort of a bastard child of NWOBHM, classic rock, and hair metal, Audrey Horne have a formula that’s thoroughly addictive. Packed full of songs that should be experienced in a live arena setting, they never slow things down too much (outside of the slightly funkier “This One” and groovy “California”) and instead send the listener into sensory overload with a plethora of smile-inducing guitar riffs and melodies sitting alongside near-mandatory sing-a-long choruses. One listen to the title track or the galloping “Naysayer” and it’s likely you’ll be sold on the entire package as they bore infectious holes into your skull. The guitarwork is just plain fun, and a punchy, rebellious track like “Midnight Man” is bound to make you crank the loudspeakers, if they weren’t already to the max after the soaring and glorious leads of “This War” starts things off. But a band like this requires a standout vocalist as well, and Toschie fills that role admirably. Whether it’s the jovial wordplay and patterns of “Rose Alley” or the attitude-soaked “Audrevolution,” there’s not just big and friendly choruses to enjoy, but charismatic work from the start to end of each song.

Following in the footsteps of Pure Heavy and Youngblood, Blackout stands as the act’s finest hour to date, and an album to simply crank up loud and enjoy. An exceptional blend of top-notch musicianship with a bounty of catchy hooks and a rollicking vocal performance. This is the type of material that would be selling out arenas if justice in the world prevailed.

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