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Audrey Horne - name sound familiar? Stolen from from one of the charachters in Twin Peaks. Spellemann-winners (equivalent to Grammy’s)in Norway in 2005 with their debut album No Hay Banda, they now return with Le Fol, nominated for the Spellemann this year but losing out to Mayhem in the metal category.
Toschie - Vocals
Arve “Ice Dale” Isdal - Guitar
Thomas Tofthagen - Guitar
Kjetil Greve - Drums
The album, generally well recieved in their home country, is given 8/10 in Classic Rock magazine, who describes it as “the best modern rock album you’ve never heard”, saying “you cannot afford to miss the longboat on this one.” And they really are spot on with that statement.
It cannot be denied that Le Fol is a rather difficult album to get into, and it really does justify the term ‘grower’. The album as a whole doesn’t grip the listener until about the third or fourth listen. But after a while we hear all the way from the radio intro to Last Chance For A Serenade to the mind-blowingly heavy prog-inspired finale that is So Long, Euphoria catchy riffs, superb lyrics and an unpredictability only the best bands in the business can match. This unpredictablility is particularly noticed in Bright Lights. A very soft opening with a steady drumbeat and a clean guitar slowly builds up and explodes at around 3:00 into one of the loudest parts of the album, with a frantically fast riff and Toschie screaming his throat sore. And it works! “Burn this town down to light up your way” is sung several times and enhances the desperation in the song, which may be the stand out track of the album. But naming a standout is a very tough call, as nearly every single track has something special to it.
Hell Hath No Fury is an exception, solid but unspectacular. The lyrics are slightly uninspiring, the riffs are the least catchy on the album, but it is still perfectly listenable. All the other tracks, even the at first seemingly super-cheesy Wish You Well, with lyrics like “I’m a witness to my high school reunion”, are almost impossible to skip once you start listening to them. Toschie’s voice and Ice Dale’s riffs have a unique chemistry and the solos, in the few songs that have them (for example, the album single, Threshold, has a long break with prominent parts for all instruments, keyboard, guitar, bass and drums, instead of a solo), are never flashy or particularly fast, and never break with the feel of the song. Eerie song ala Monster? Eerie solo.
Monster provides almost a welcome break from the heaviness in the middle of the album. After the four first tracks have blown your top off we are served a beautiful and clean guitar and haunting lyrics. The chorus brings the distortion in, but it is much less aggressive than the rest of the album, and all the more beautiful for it.
The production of this album, credited to Arve “Ice Dale” Isdal, is very good. Proper
Metalheads might even call it too clean, almost too mainstream in comparison to No Hay Banda, which has a very “ugly” and distorted sound (which also works very well). The vocals are always crystal-clear, as are all the instruments. The “breaks” from the general heaviness (Monster and the first two minutes of Bright Lights) are perfectly placed and the finale, So Long, Euphoria, the longest track of the album clocking in at 6:20, sums up the entire album in one song. A proggy, Tool-reminiscent riff, a captivating chorus, a desperate solo and an eerie, whispering break all in one. It’s hard to think of a better finale to an album.
Out in Norway since August 2007, Le Fol will be released in Europe and the UK on Feb. 25th 2008. For fans of music inspired by Alice in Chains, Tool and Faith No More to name a few, this is Christmas come early. Very early. This is a solid album from a band that, with a bit of luck and good publicity, could go a long way. And it would be no more than they deserve.