No Hay Banda
3/29/2007 - Review by: Etiam
Intelligent and fairly aggressive, rooted in American-style hard rock
Although we tend to perceive our musical idols as immaculate paragons of Metalness, we cannot help but be simply human in the end. Particularly in the States, there’s a sense of escapism to the fantasy of isolated, brooding Norsemen spending all their years cutting down Christians and poseurs, writing fantastically heavy music about it, and shunning modern society. Yet, the truth is that even Vikings have feelings, families, relationships, and hangovers, and Audrey Horne is here to help us remember that, like it or not.
This is more than a reminder, though; Audrey Horne actually embrace their pop-culture influences, having named their band after a character from the ‘Twin Peaks’ TV series and their album after a line from David Lynch’s ‘Mulholland Drive’.
But why is a rock record being reviewed on a metal site? It’s all about connections, ultimately, and Audrey Horne’s line-up features some serious heavies in the Norwegian metal scene—Tom (ex-Gorgoroth, Jotunspor, Sahg) Arve (Enslaved, I), Toschie, Thomas and Herbrand (last two of Sahg and Enslaved, respectively). Their collective experience in those more technically demanding (and in some cases, progressive) environments helps ‘No Hay Banda’ resonate with stronger intensity than most rock ‘n’ roll, but only the line-up makes Audrey Horne anything close to genuine heavy metal.
‘No Hay Banda’ is intelligent and fairly aggressive, rooted in American-style hard rock. The additional tag of ‘gothic’ that some have added is partially accurate, reflecting the traditionally dour Norwegian atmosphere heard throughout. However, just as influential is a straightforward, indulgent riffing attitude that groups like Sevendust, Saliva, or Velvet Revolver espouse.
Far from being that lowbrow, though, Audrey Horne include a number of classy distinctions. The best and most readily apparent is how smooth and sensible they are, even when obviously imitating American bravado (‘Blackhearted Visions’, for example). It’s really a remarkable synergy for a new project: Herbrand’s talented keyboards support Toschie’s catchy vocal harmonies, while Thomas and Arve lay down honest, garage band riffs to keep things honest. Although the current bonus tracks make ‘No Hay Banda’ significantly too long, it is still an enjoyable, honest listen that falls on the fair side of guilty pleasures.
On a loosely related, larger subject, Audrey Horne are a fine example of the key differences between the American and European music scenes. While there are always anomalies, it’s usually not too difficult to guess which side of the pond a band is from after hearing a song or two. Why is this? ‘No Hay Banda’ is not out to stake its claim atop the rock hierarchy or dethrone any American pop royalty, but perhaps that is what makes it successful. Warning: Gross Generalization Follows. Often enough (in the metal scene, at least), American bands make mediocre, even normal music as a means to show off their outsized egos, while conversely, Europeans tend to make more outstanding, unusual music in spite of their humble personalities. There are exceptions, of course—namely Britain, belying that modesty bit, and guitarist Arve here is something of a wildchild—but it is a point to consider.
Back on topic, although Audrey Horne is not as interesting or powerful as any of the members’ other projects, ‘No Hay Banda’ is still a commendable exercise that no doubt serves to keep widening their musical horizons. A respectable cleansing of their artistic palates, in other words, that so far is working rather well. So long as she doesn’t steal the guys away from their mainstay groups, this Audrey Horne girl is welcome to stick around for as long as she likes.