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Friday, March 27, 2009

Album Review: Audrey Horne - Le Fol

This Norwegian rock quartet blend keyboards with guitars to produce a wall of sound that has seen them pick up multiple awards back in their homeland for their debut ‘No Hay Banda’. With this release destined for a wider audience and it’s quite possible this could be their year. A few line-up changes have seen Ice Dale, a former Enslaved guitarist, take up production duties, on top of which he continues to stamp his trademark of dark, fizzing guitar all over their music.

‘Jaws’ is euphoric, shining and shimmering with buzzed fearsome guitars, shattering rock drums and dramatic keyboard sections. “We still kill the old school way”, yells a chorus of Toschies. Rarely does the bass take on such a leading role in a band’s sound but here its steady throb is the bedrock for everything else to build from, resonant and foreboding. Check the opening bars of ‘Threshold’ as it picks out its insane dancing rhythm and you’ll understand exactly why it’s so important. ‘Monster’ is a step away firmly into the middle of the road with its gently swaying rhythm but it‘s only going to get run over standing there so clearly out of place. Thankfully ‘So Long Euphoria’ drags us back to the dark side with its brooding throb of guitars, mighty pings of bass, syncopated drum patterns and stylized, echoing vocals which shift back and forth between shifty, silent spoken warnings to urgent and desperate choral unisons.

Over-production has left it hanging precariously close to falling into the mainstream quicksand but it should be saved by the dark, festering and fairly eclectic underscore that is the album’s calling card. Perhaps capturing a rawer, more live sound should be the band’s next move, but this is a fine way to introduce yourselves to the world, as their rapidly increasing fan base will no doubt attest to.

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