With their third self-titled album, Norwegian rock band Audrey Horne made an explosive and triumphant climax to their journey as a band, the release placing the hard rockers into the higher echelons of the genre with critical media and fan acclaim to match. Even for those like us who have only a passing affection for their chosen genre it was impossible not to take note and offer a solid appreciation for its craft and sounds. Such its response and creativity it was not difficult to wonder if they could follow up the release with the same strength and invention. New album Youngblood more than answers the questions with its impressive and thrilling contents.
Formed in 2002, Audrey Horne has been on an accelerated and energetic ride ever since with a continually impressing evolution in sound and rewards coming through the earning of a tremendous reputation for their live shows, a series of releases which captured the imagination reaching a crescendo with the self-titled release, and winning a Norwegian Grammy in 2006. Youngblood feels like the beginning of the next passage of the band, the album bringing all the riches of the previous one with another fresh twist of invention on top. Released through Napalm Records, the album is a rich slice of classic and hard rock at its most impassioned and stylish with an equal imagination and craft. It also sees the Bergen band as a quintet for the first time with bassist Espen Lien now a full time member alongside vocalist Toschie, guitarists Ice Dale and Thomas Tofthagen, and drummer Kjetil Greve.
Redemption Blues opens up the album with an eager and accomplished brew of keen to please rock n roll. It takes its time to fully engage all its charms with a lingering teasing entrance but into full swing it is a vibrant riot of enticing riffs, a wonderfully grouchy yet mischievous bassline, and sizzling sonic accomplishment. It is one of those songs which recruits the passions with ease and takes them on an energetic ride too impossible to resist. Not for the first time on the album, the bass of Lien is sensational, a mesmeric predator, whilst the guitar invention and craft is just delicious, an incendiary pleasure to fire up the heart.
Across the keen rampage of Straight Into Your Grave, a song which reminds of Napalm Records, at times with the great vocals of Toschie and its straight forward intent to ignite the energies within its recipients, and into the magnetic title track the album continues to leave a deep satisfaction and endeavour to bask in. The second of the two is an easy going tenderly crafted slice of melodic rock at its finest bringing further diversity to the album and heated elegance.
Well into its stride Youngblood breaks out its finest moments starting with the wonderful sirenesque There Goes A Lady, a song which lures one in like the mythical enchantresses musically, lyrically and in its personal theme. One of the highlights of the album is the lyrical content of songs, and the avoidance of the band to offer the routine predictable premises of others. The words employed by the Norwegians are thoughtfully crafted, constantly intriguing, and evocative pictures upon the musical canvas and no more potent than on this excellent track.
Further highlights exalting the senses are offered in the latter half of the album, a release which arguably can be said to be the strongest in the closing stretch of its aural charge. Cards With The Devil is a wonderfully heated thrill with flames of blues and classic rock smouldering away within its progressively melodic whispers and fully inviting breath. It is a mesmeric piece of songwriting and realisation but surpassed by the following Pretty Little Sunshine, the best song on the album. The track is a continually moving flow of beckoning riffs, anthemic vocals, and infectious energy which hits all the right spots. As the album does persistently, the track treats the ear and heart to the finest vintage spices soaked into an inventive imagination and fire borne solely of Audrey Horne.
The closing pair of tracks This Ends Here and The King Is Dead leaves the listener on a high of impressive melodic craft and exceptional musical vision, both as the album itself, rock n roll to devour with a passion. Youngblood is an exceptional release which has plenty for everyone, even those like us without that instinctive ardour for hard rock. A definite must introduce yourselves to release.
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