Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Album Review: Audrey Horne - Blackout

With the start of a new year comes a clean slate, metaphorically speaking. We don't really get to discard what came before, and nothing is different than the day before except for the date we forget to write correctly for a month or two, but there is the idea of starting fresh that carries great appeal. So it is fitting that the first review I sit down to write for the new year is in its own way a clean slate, in that Audrey Horne is a band I am previously unfamiliar with. My ignorance aside, the prospect of starting the year with an album of catchy heavy metal anthems is just the sort of thing to snap out of the funk of a brutal cold spell.

The album opens in fine fashion with "This Is War", which offers an updated take on the Iron Maiden gallop and guitar harmonies. It's a throwback in spirit, but it doesn't try to recreate the past. There is still a modernity in the approach, which shines through on the chorus, which is more of a stadium sing-along than most of the classic-era Maiden tracks were written to be. Maybe the slowdown in the solo saps some of the momentum and could have been omitted, but the rest of the track is a fine opening to the album.

The rest of the songs that follow show an admirable range and diversity. "Audrevolution" is linguistically questionable, but it has a punk energy that revs things up, while "Blackout" sounds like it could have come off the first (and only really good) Black Star Riders album. Then there's "This Man", that has a Thin Lizzy vibe to the song that makes it endearing, even if the writing isn't quite as sharp.

Once the middle of the album hits, so does a bit of a lagging feeling. The songs don't dip in quality, but the steady quality and pacing of them does make the album feel a bit longer than its actual running time. There are good melodies on a lot of these songs, but the instrumentals are so driven by guitar harmonies that there isn't enough riffs or weight to the tracks. These songs sound like they need more guitar underpinning them. I'm not someone who likes to say music needs to be heavier, but this is a case where I think more rhythm guitars and a beefier sound would have done a lot of good.

But having said that, I have to reiterate there's nothing wrong at all with "Blackout". It's a perfectly good album to kick the year off. We're just easing in to the swing of things again, and this album serves that purpose. I would be disappointed in 2018 if this wound up being among the best albums we're offered, but as an appetizer, "Blackout" is an enjoyable way to spend forty minutes or so.

No comments:

Post a Comment