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Pure Heavy

Napalm (2014)
Rating: 9/10

Pure Heavy is the fifth album by Norway’s Audrey Horne, and it seems that with each release they are getting bigger and bigger. Eleven tracks of glammed-up, high energy rock ’n’ roll, this is a fantastic trip back into the heyday of 70s and 80s rock.

What may surprise some of you who are not familiar with these guys is the fact that the line-up was originally formed by members of black metal legends Enslaved and Gorgoroth! However, if you’re not a black metal fan do not let this minor detail put you off because Audrey Horne could well be the most authentic-sounding revival rock band you’ve ever heard, and I can just imagine this quintet filling stadiums the world over.

Just when you think that you’ve had enough of pastiche rock ’n’ roll, along comes a band that somehow fuses together so many previously enjoyed styles and yet laces it with heaps of entertainment and infectious melodies. How can something so new sound so timeless? It’s almost like hearing Electric Light Orchestra reinvent The Beatles; combing that progressive meddling with cosmic hooks and glam rock strutting. With soulful vocals aplenty, soaring licks, sprigs of Black Sabbath, flashes of AC/DC, a fleck of Kiss, a tinge of traditional metal and a sugary topping and we’re already under the spell of the angelic ‘Wolf In My Heart’; a true party anthem with ascending vocals that fuse Paul Stanley (Kiss) with Ozzy Osbourne. In fact, I keep on rewinding to certain segments astounded by this refreshing slab of rock.

Hell, I could probably just write a review based around that opening track. Space doesn’t permit though, so it’s on with the show and the groove-tastic ‘Holy Roller’, and suddenly we’re battered by a juggernaut riff that borders on power metal brilliance. Distinctly 80s, there’s a cool marrying of straight up metal and cool melody. Maybe I’m just imagining it all but for me this is so Ozzy-like, bringing to mind 2014’s other slice of genius in Aug’s Be Careful What You Wish For… opus. Rarely since the mid 90s have I heard such a gorgeous melting of varied metal.

The Thin Lizzy-styled groove of ‘Out Of The City’ is up next, which is another simple whiff of sublime melody only this time it’s less metal and more pop-edged with that fizzing riff and steady drum nod. Each and every time these guys get you with a chorus that rises majestically out of the already smoking groove.

‘Volcano Girl’ is another upbeat rocker driven by that juddering riff, while ‘Tales From The Crypt’ begins with a 70s glam rock hand-clap stomp hinting at the Sweet, before transforming into a straight up head rocker. With each and every swipe however, the band aims at our ears there is a joy to behold.

‘Diamond’ is a lush, sweeping ballad complete with a drifting flute, but it’s a mere precursor to the staggering ‘Into The Wild’ and ‘Gravity’; the former a simple slice of galloping New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, the latter a slow-building extravaganza with crashing cymbals and blues-edged nudging. And if this orgy of class isn’t enough, we’re finished off with a trio of desserts; the Iron Maiden-esque tumble of ‘High And Dry’, the sizzling brooding of ‘Waiting For The Night’ and album closer ‘Boy Wonder’ which once again hints at that cool, breezy Ozzy-style of bubbling metal.

And there you have it; Audrey Horne possibly crossing the line in a dead heat with Aug and Hands Of Orlac for my albums of the year.

Neil Arnold

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