It pains me to say it, but the best American rock band hails from Norway. Their name is Audrey Horne and they’re mercy ruling the competition out of the game. This brilliant, idiot-manchild side project of Ice Dale (Enslaved) and Thomas Tofthagen (Sahg) has blazed a shockingly catchy trail of pure rock lunacy since 2005s Confessions and Alcohol. Their eponymous 2010 album was a positively brilliant amalgam of Faith No More and Stone Temple Pilots, surpassed only by 2013s Youngblood for skin snagging hooks and mega memorable rock anthems. This is the kind of band that serves up frothy, foamy, good times music with so much swagger they can barely walk in a straight line. That’s right, it’s big pimpin, hard rocking, dirty rolling, greasy music that sticks to the ribs and makes you cooler just by listening. Pure Heavy doesn’t fuck with the winning formula and plays like a continuation of Youngblood, fusing 70s rock with modern ideas and always with a wicked ear for masterful melody and unforgettable choruses. It’s another world beating party platter from a band that seems incapable of doing wrong, and every single American rock band must step aside and bow their heads in shame.
Whether it’s The Who meets Led Zeppelin guitar rock of opener “Wolf in My Heart” or the wicked Thin Lizzy melodies throughout the irresistible “Out of the City,” Pure Heavy reeks of slick, but rowdy songcraft. It’s one rock gem after another, always direct, to the point and loaded with sweet hooks and memorable moments. Nary a note feels superfluous and everything feels just right. This made it tough to get through the whole album since I kept having to go back and replay so many tunes so many times.
Some extra groovy moments include the boozy charm of “Tales From the Crypt,” where front man Toschie channels the low rent appeal of Bon Scott and tells of life on the road. It even includes a nifty little homage to Sabbath‘s “Sweet Leaf” for extra badassery. “Ms. Volcano” is unadulterated early 80s Van Halen worship and exudes coolness in the same way those cats once did, while mixing in some tasty Maiden guitar runs to beef things up. “High n’ Dry” completes the nautically themed trilogy started by pasts treasures “Bridges and Anchors” and “This Ends Here” and it’s another rabble rousing ditty sure to get you up and moving. Close out tracks like “Into the Wild” and “Waiting for the Night” are every bit as strong or stronger than the opening cuts and the beast just keeps on rolling to the bitter end.
There isn’t a weak moment here and the album is the exact perfect length at 42 minutes. Each song is a short, sharp shock of rock glory and each ends before you want it to, thereby insuring you’re left wanting more. It also sounds great with a warm, rich mix and fat, tub thumping bass presence.
The guitar work from Ice Dale and Tofthagen is stuck in the golden age of rock, but they’re so damn good at playing these Thin Lizzy and Zeppelin riffs that nobody will care. The album is packed with gritty, smoking solos and an embarrassment of ear candy harmonies and every song is barroom and pool hall tested. Now add to the mix the national treasure that is Toschie, and you have something special indeed. The man channels all the best traits of beloved rock vocalists from across the spectrum like David Lee Roth, Bon Scott, Joe Walsh, Scott Weiland and even tosses in some Dave Grohl and Mike Patton from time to time, all with a patina of sleaze and tattoo parlor chic. He knows exactly how to turn a phrase and he’s the perfect singer for this kind of music.
Pure Heavy is pure joy and if I have a complaint, it’s that it didn’t drop three months ago so it could have been the soundtrack to the summer. Music this much fun almost had to be conceived and recorded by guys half in the bag, and it’ll make you feel like you need to catch up toot sweet. Don’t miss this one, or any of their albums. American rock scene, the gauntlet has been thrown down. Step up or get a new line of work.