Devil's Bell

Devil's Bell

For Norwegian metal band Audrey Horne, recording their seventh album during the pandemic turned out to be a double-edged sword. “The rules here were pretty strict when we started out,” vocalist Torkjell “Toschie” Rød tells Apple Music. “You could not have more than two contacts outside your own household. We normally get together as a band in our rehearsal room when we write and then record live in the studio together, so that was hard.” The upside? The Bergen-based band had more time to refine the songs that became Devil’s Bell. “We were able to really get into the material,” he says. “So, I think in many ways, this album is way more focused than the two previous; 20 years into our career, I think we’ve made one of our most vital albums.” One listen to moody opener “Ashes to Ashes,” the infectious “Danse Macabre,” or the Maiden-esque title track confirms his assessment. Below, Rød discusses each song. “Ashes to Ashes” “[Guitarist] Thomas [Tofthagen] wrote this song, and the working title we had was ‘Crüe.’ We usually have working titles that are a band name because there’s always something about them that we associate with a different band. But the lyrics are inspired by a Swedish band called Kent. They did a song that sort of personalizes all the shitty things that happen in a city—the pickpocket, the rapist, the jealous neighbor or whatever. He’s saying he’s all of these things. So, I wanted to write a lyric like that myself, that explores the darker side of human nature.” “Animal” “The main ideas for this were also written by Thomas. When I came up with the vocal idea for the chorus, he thought it sounded like Green Day and that I should get rid of it. But I think it sounds like any fucking metal band you’d hear during the ’80s. I had to fight him for a long time before he caved in. I think it’s going to be a killer song to do live because it’s got more of a punk-rock, almost Turbonegro-ish vibe to it.” “Break Out” “Just as ‘Ashes to Ashes’ was called ‘Crüe’ originally, ‘Break Out’ was called ‘Bark.’ And there’s no secret that there’s a certain Ozzy Osbourne vibe to the song. [Guitarist] Arve [Isdal] wrote this one, and I immediately fell in love with the riff. The interesting thing is that I wrote the lyric almost like it is now pretty much on the spot. I completely rewrote it for the studio, but then Arve suggested I use the original, and I agreed. Sometimes you think what you write is not intellectual enough, but then you have to follow your gut sometimes. This is a good example of that.” “Return to Grave Valley” “Thomas and Arve wrote this together. They said I should try to come up with some vocal ideas, but I was like, ‘I’m not touching this, dude. It sounds too good.’ Instrumental music from the genre that we operate in tends to be a lot of showing off, but this is a song with melody where something new happens around each corner. My contribution was the title, which is a reference to our rehearsal room—a place called Gravdal. Translated to English, grav is ‘grave’ and dal is ‘valley.’ It fits because it’s the only song that’s recorded 100-percent live, so it has a bit more rawness to it, like a rehearsal room feel.” “Danse Macabre” “This is very much a song about jealousy. In a way, it’s inspired by a very close friend of mine who was in a very dysfunctional relationship for a long time, with a lot of jealousy and stuff. Love is a good thing, but it can also be an extremely dark, negative, fucked-up thing. When it’s dysfunctional, it’s truly one of the worst feelings a person can have. But it’s a very catchy song, I think. It’s a bit more mellow and groovy compared to ‘Animal’ and ‘Ashes to Ashes.’” “Devil’s Bell” (feat. Frank Hammersland) “Obviously, this has a strong Maiden vibe to it, but it has an energy and a freshness that I fucking love. The lyrics are something I feel strongly about. I’m not trying to be Bob Dylan over here, but it annoys me that we’re living in 2022 and we’re still coming across people who have issues with homosexuality. It’s like, ‘We’ve moved on—you need to catch up.’ So, this song was sort of my trying to support those who are different and misunderstood. The inspiration for the title is from a very old poem called ‘The Inchcape Rock.’” “All Is Lost” (feat. Frank Hammersland) “Arve wrote this one and ‘Devil’s Bell.’ I felt this song has a very stadium-rock feel, like Def Leppard almost. I wrote a bunch of different melody lines for this, but he kept rejecting them. Then he suggested that I try to be more of a storyteller rather than focusing on the melody. When he said that, it clicked in my head. So, it’s about a man and a woman, two kind of fucked-up people. Frank Hammersland, an extremely good pop musician from our hometown, helped me finish the lyrics.” “Toxic Twins” “Joe Perry and Steven Tyler from Aerosmith were known as the Toxic Twins, and this song is about our own toxic twins—Arve and Thomas. They are the ones that don’t know how to end the party. They always end up in the weirdest situations, where I’m like, ‘Dude, are you serious? Are you sure you’re not talking about some movie you saw?’ So, I tried to write the lyrics as if you’re in some sort of resistance or rebellion, but your mission is not to save the world—your mission is just to party. The song makes me laugh and think of those two. When we put the band to rest at some point, I’m definitely going to write a book about them.” “From Darkness” “Along with ‘Ashes to Ashes,’ this is one of my favorites. Arve sent it to me, and I immediately loved it because it just keeps grooving, keeps pushing. And he liked the melody I wrote straightaway this time. The bridge has the vocal part that I’m most happy with on the entire album. And then Hammersland helped us again by writing a perfect ending. When I heard it, I knew right away it would be the closing track on the album. It’s like when you watch a movie like Vanilla Sky and think, ‘What just happened?’”

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