For melodic hard rock in the classic vein, it doesn't get much better than Norway's Audrey Horne and their fourth album, Youngblood. It's hard to believe that some people early on called their music alternative rock. Talk about trying to put a square peg in a round hole. To their credit, perhaps they meant that Audrey Horne was an alternative to the mundane post-grunge mantra slinging about at the time.
Youngblood is simply great classic hard rock. The band and songs excel on several levels. One is simply strong song writing and arranging. This is made even stronger by the melody and harmony of both the vocal arrangements and twin guitar lines. Cap this off with some sterling production and mix, and Youngblood is nearly nearly infallible.
If any song defines these characteristics, it's This Ends Here, with the simply wonderful vocals and guitar work. While the best song here, it's also one of ten really great tunes. The King is Dead echoes the skill of the aforementioned song with the blessing of some great drumming. But there's more. Though always a little darker, songs like Cards with Devil, Straight to Your Grave, and certainly There Goes a Lady turn on some rather clever hooks in both arrangement and lyrics. For some odd reason, I want to hear Audrey Horne perform There Goes a Lady in duet with Tom Jones. Final mention goes to the racing and clever Pretty Little Sunshine. It's hard to believe all these great hooks, melodies, and harmonies come from a band that includes dudes who play in black metal bands. Duh.
Audrey Horne's Youngblood is simply terrific.