CD Reviews – Devil’s Bell Audrey Horne


01. From ashes to ashes

02. Animals

03. Escape

04. Back to Grave Valley

05. Dance of Death

06. Devil’s Bell

07. All Is Lost

08. Toxic Twins

09. Darkness

Maybe it’s because they’re from Bergen, Norway, rather than anywhere near the Sunset Strip, but AUDREY HORN have never reached the heights that their music seems to demand. Even back on early albums like “The fool” (2017) and the Norwegians’ superb self-titled record (2010), they were churning out ridiculously memorable and uplifting hard rock bangers at such an alarming rate that world domination seemed inevitable. About ten years later, “The Devil’s Bell” is yet another album full of songs that deserve to be heard by everyone, preferably at full blast through a car stereo. Maybe this time the world will pay attention.

AUDREY HORN are perfectly successful in themselves, of course. Having been so consistent over the years, they are a respected and well-established cornerstone of European hard rock. And yet, “The Devil’s Bell” provides a timely reminder that they too are a band with certain unique charms. First, the leader Toschie has a glorious, distinctive voice: it struts and soars through these nine songs, exuding mischief and conviction in equal amounts. Secondly, AUDREY HORN are the absolute masters of bold classic rock hybrid. These songs borrow from all sorts of valuable sources – from CHEAP TIP, KISS and VAN HALENfor METALLIC, IRON MAIDEN and CHAINED ALICE – but the end result is always something else entirely.

The very diversity of the thing is commendable in itself. Opening salvo “Ashes to Ashes” borders on scandal, as it seamlessly shifts from anthemic ’80s vibes to twisted post-grunge vocals, while delivering a chorus big enough to flatten a cathedral. Faster and grainier, “Animal” is high-octane, sing-along speed metal, infectious gang vocals included; “To burst” go full 80s OZZYfilled with eight twisty, psychedelic ways; “Return to Grave Valley” is a creepy and ingenious instrument with guitarists valley of ice and Thomas Toftagen in spectacular form.

Toschie comes back in a noisy mood on “Dance of Death” – an organ-soaked boogie rock extravaganza with a delightfully uplifting chorus – and the YOUNG LADY-welcoming Fire ‘n’ Fury from the title track, which may be AUDREY HORNbest single moment yet. Plunging further into epic metal territory than ever before, the steady gallop of “All is lost” is another star, while “Toxic Twins” once again turns the tables, via the kind of rock ‘n’ roll punk and punk that the Scandinavians seem to do better than anyone. “The Devil’s Bell“concludes with “From Darkness”: a 7-minute labyrinth of street-metal riffs, frenzied vocal harmonies and grandiose and mind-blowing detours. It’s a surprising and unexpected moment on an album full of such things. It’s classic rock, but AUDREY HORN style. In many ways, it’s better than the real thing.

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Jack L. Goldstein