Okay let’s get going with the 2022 review.
Another side project from extreme metallers to pay homage to their classic rock and metal influences which has become their main project. Think of bands like Kiss, Deep Purple, Ozzy Osbourne, Thin Lizzy, Iron Maiden, Scorpions, Helloween, Judas Priest, Van Halen, Tool, Metallica, Cheap Trick.
“Devils Bell” follows the excellent “Blackout” album from 2018, which featured “This Is War” and “Audrevolution”, two of my favourites from the.
As soon as you press play to “Ashes to Ashes”, the harmony guitars assault your ear buds. It’s almost doom like and after 46 seconds, the song morphs into something different, but it’s at the 1.40 mark when the guitar hero riff kicks in.
“Animal” has a riff straight from the rule book of the NWOBHM. “Breakout” has a killer riff that is from the 80’s, very Jake E. Lee (Ozzy period) and George Lynch (Dokken period) like and it morphs into a Jimmy Page riff, something like he played on “Whisper A Prayer For The Dying” on Coverdale/Page.
“Return To Grave Valley” (an instrumental) has a Thin Lizzy and Iron Maiden influence, which they also used on the excellent “This Is War” from the previous album.
“Danse Macabre” (translates to Dance With Death) has nothing to do with Ghost except that both songs have great riffs and catchy vocal melodies.
“Devils Bell” continues the Iron Maiden/Helloween influences. Make sure you stick around for the interlude/harmony solo section. “All Is Lost” has another killer guitar intro and stick around for the killer middle section which features vocal ohhs and harmony guitars.
“Toxic Twins” has some excellent guitar work. The names Arve “Ice Dale” Isdal and Thomas Tofthagen don’t have the same recognition as other guitarist, but these dudes can play and wail with the best of em. Underneath it all are the mammoth sized bass lines from Espen Lien and the thunderous Bonham meets McBrian drums of Kjetil Grev.
Another key ingredient to Audrey Horne are the early Ozzy like vocals from Torkjell “Toschie” Rod. Its unique enough to be his own and it has enough elements to pay homage to Ozzy.
“From Darkness” channels Uli Jon Roth from his Scorpions days. Think “He’s A Woman, She’s A Man”. And that solo section again, brings back memories of their love for Iron Maiden.
Compared to the streaming numbers of other bands, Audrey Horne is way below those numbers with most of the songs under 100K in streams.
From the U.S.
I wasn’t sure I was going to spend time to listen to “Pawns And Kings”. I feel like Myles’s voice is everywhere these days with so many projects happening that I enjoy, like his work with Slash, his Alter Bridge work plus his solo career. But as a guitarist, I am always super keen to hear what Mark Tremonti is up to.
I try to not listen to the pre-release singles but on this case I did spend time with a few. How can you deny a track with the title “This Is War” or “Pawns And Kings”. In the words of Yoda, “impressed, I was”.
After a long three month lead in, the album finally dropped in October, 2022. Compared to the streaming numbers of say, Three Days Grace new album, this one feels like it’s forgotten, however Three Days Grace does have a four month heads start.
The very metal like “This Is War” gives way to the heavy rock riffage of “Dead Among The Living”, which could have come from the recent Tremonti album. “Metalilngus” from their debut album is one of their most streamed songs at 101 million streams on Spotify, so it’s no surprise they try and keep the metal going with “Silver Tongue” which is also their most streamed song from the new album at 3.1 million streams on Spotify.
The intro riff on “Sin After Sin”. Wow. Press play and enjoy the almost 7 minute long song that moves between heavy metal, groove metal and heavy rock. At 1.4 million Spotify streams, it’s one of the Top 5 songs from the album when it comes to streams.
The sequencing on the album is excellent, as it transitions to a major key pop rock song in “Stay”. It’s much welcomed after the groove metal behemoth “Sin After Sin” before it. And at 756,559 streams its more or less forgotten, but it shouldn’t be.
“Fable Of The Silent Son” is an 8 minute epic that kept me interested throughout. Because while it starts off all dreamy like at 2.50 an almost djent like riff kicks in and they make it sound accessible. At the 5 minute mark this Tool like section kicks in before it goes into a Randy Rhoads style like solo section. This is the Alter Bridge I like, when they go back to the 70’s Rock albums and experiment.
And the sequencing again is spot on, as they hit us with a major key song in “Season Of Promise”. Stick around for the section between 2.30 and 3.30, because when Myles is singing like that, how can you not like it.
“Last Man Standing” is the least streamed track on the album at 490K Spotify streams. But I am hooked from the digital delay riff in the intro and that riff that kicks in at the 57 second mark.
The title track. Wow. Especially the “One” like section from about the 2.50 mark. 6 minutes and 18 seconds later I needed to hear it again. When the solo kicks in, the riff under it is very Middle Eastern sounding, so Tremonti is operating in the Phrygian Dominant scale. If you are a Muse fan, then you will enjoy the outro.
From the U.K.
How good was “The Kingdom” (2020)?
Well Gavin Rossdale must have thought the same, because he is continuing to live in the music and style of said album with a few little tweaks here and there. As a side note, the song “Undone” from “The Kingdom” only has about 500K Spotify Streams, but wow, what a song that is.
I feel like I am drowning with “Heavy Is The Ocean”, its downtuned and depressive riffage sinking me.
“Slow Me” immediately hooks me, as it starts off with the vocal melody. “More Than Machines” is the most streamed song at 2.29 Spotify Streams. How good is the vocal melody during the Chorus?
“May Your Love Be Pure” and “Shark Bite” bring the groove rock, while “Human Sand” brings back the retro 70’s feel of Classic Fuzz Rock in the intro. “Kiss Me I’m Dead” also has an intro riff which reminds of 80’s metal. “Identity” has a head banging industrial metal riff ala Rammstein.
“Creatures Of The Fire” is as good as anything on the charts and at 127,815 Spotify streams, the song is forgotten. It reminds me of the excellent “Undone” from “The Kingdom” album.
The closer “1000 Years” is also a favourite, with its synth like guitar riff and Rossdale’s sad vocal delivery.
From the U.S.
It’s not their best work but probably their most angriest. A lot of living has happened between “Attention Attention” (2018) and “Planet Zero”. It’s no surprise that George Floyd, the Insurrection and Covid lockdowns get some attention on this album.
After a brief 22 second intro from “2184”, a punk metal burner called “No Sleep Tonight” kicks in. “Planet Zero” was one of the lead singles and its sitting at 16.2 million Spotify streams, but it’s not the best song by a long shot.
“Dysfunctional You” could have come from “The Sound Of Madness” while “Dead Don’t Die” would keep the fans from “Threat To Survival” happy.
“America Burning” is patchy.
But “A Symptom Of Being Human” is by far the best track on the album. An acoustic song, which could have been written during the Smith And Myers sessions, it arrives on this album, exactly when you need it.
“Hope” is a four letter word, is the hook for the song. It’s classic Shinedown doing rock ballads with balls.
“Clueless and Dramatic” is “The Sound Of Madness” part 2 and I like it. “Sure Is Fun” is anything but, while “Daylight” is showing to be a sleeper hit with 7.3 million Spotify streams and counting. It lives in the Shinedown meets The Script meets Imagine Dragons world.
“The Saints Of Violence And Innuendo” is a cross between Brit Pop and Aerosmith while “Army Of The Underappreciated” is a miss. “What You Wanted” could have come from Smith and Myers.
As a fan, the last two albums have been hit and miss. Three to five killer tracks and the rest loaded with filler.
Just missed out
The album “Turborider” was moved out of 12th place because somewhere in my subconscious I couldn’t have an EOY list and not have Shinedown on it, especially when they have a new album out.
But check out songs like “Turborider”, “Outrun”, their cover of “Bark At The Moon”, “Like A Cobra”, “For The Love Of Good Times” and “89 Sparkle” sounds like a modern disco dance cut with a dash of hard rock. “Future Lover Boy” is another dance rock tune, with synths and a metronomic drum beat.
“Prodigal Sons” is the heaviest track, reminding me of early The Rasmus. And my favourite.
It’s nothing earth shattering, not really original, the lyrics are dumb, but Reckless Love do their homage to the 80’s really well. And I like it. On some occasions it almost comes across as parody. But never boring and a 35 minute blast from start to finish. And there is still plenty of shred on hand for the guitar purists.
So why didn’t it make my Top 12.
It’s the electronic dance beats and synths. These add ons on each track made the songs sound too computerized and in some stages the auto-tuned vocals robotic. But I think that was the style they were going for.
Let your ears do the decision making for you.