Album Review: Audrey Horne – Devil’s Bell

Album Review: Audrey Horne – Devil’s Bell
Reviewed by Dan Barnes

Norwegian ‘super-group’, Audrey Horne land album number seven after a four-year hiatus and seemingly pick up precisely where they left off at the end of 2018’s Blackout record; it’s abundantly clear from the opening Ashes to Ashes that Audrey Horne is again ready to rock on Devil’s Bell.

From the outset, Ashes to Ashes confronts you with a fierce guitar tone and fret-board flurries abound as the band open with an epic vista akin to classic Queensryche. Two minutes in and the killer riffs begin, laying down meaty riffs and soaring solos aplenty, all held together by a rock-solid rhythm section who happily beaver away in the background, ensuring sturdy foundations are maintained throughout.

Devil’s Bell is a record that, like most of Audrey Horne’s material, embraces the past and revels in a time when chest-beating, fist-pumping anthems ruled, and the guitarist could elevate himself to God-like status with the bend of a string or the tap of a fret.

Ex-Sahg man Thomas Tofthagen and Arve Isdal of Enslaved are the men charged with the establishment of legend here, and they meet the challenge with ease. Their combination and twin-harmonies are most evident on the Maiden-esque gallop of the title track and the instrumental passage Return to Grave Valley.

Album Review: Audrey Horne – Devil’s Bell

Devil’s Bell fluctuates between European Power Metal, where the likes of Animal, All is Lost and Toxic Twins (not the Aerosmith homage I was expecting) incorporate the driving rhythms and massive vocals synonymous with the genre.

On the other hand, the band seem equally at home echoing the LA Strip of the hedonistic 80s, where vocalist Toschie delivers Ozzy-soundalike lines on Break Out and the engrossing conclusion, From Darkness.

I think it’s fair to say Audrey Horne will not be lauded as innovators of a new musical direction with Devil’s Bell. But what they should be celebrated for is their adherence to the music that no doubt informed their collective desire to want to make music in the first place.

A few weeks ago, fellow Scandinavians, The Hellacopters, landed a new album that unashamedly embraced the hard rocking heroes of the past and, here, Audrey Horne have set down their own marker. Devil’s Bell is a heart-on-its-sleeve, unabashed tribute to the music of the 1980s but without ever pandering to parody.

Yet again and Audrey Horne have created another very fine hard rock album indeed.

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