Wednesday 20 November 2019

Airbourne - Boneshaker (2019)

Country: Australia
Style: Hard Rock
Rating: 7/10
Release Date: 25 Oct 2019
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It may be my high expectations coming in, but I was a little disappointed as I worked through this new Airbourne album, at least for a while. They were a band who completely blew me away when I discovered, a couple of years ago, a movement was afoot by the name of the New Wave of Classic Rock. I listened to a whole bunch of their songs on YouTube and wondered how it was possible for me to have never heard of them before. Why aren't they in heavy rotation on every radio station on the planet? It may be fair to say that they're a good reason why I dived headlong back into the scene this year.

They've always sounded as much like seventies AC/DC as anyone else, but this sounds even more like that than the real AC/DC. I haven't heard anyone sound this close since Dirty Looks back in the late eighties. I actually had to go back to hear Oh Ruby again to reestablish my baseline of vocalists who sound exactly like Bon Scott. Only then did Joel O'Keeffe suddenly start to move a little away from clone territory. He isn't the mimic that Henrik Ostergaard was, but he does seem to be trying hard here, even with some Angry Anderson and some Jimmy Barnes in the mix too.

What saves them from just being a clone band is that they're so damn good. I don't just mean the songs either, which are excellent. They have more energy than any other band I can name off the top of my head and that's apparent on an album recorded in the studio not the stage. How energetic must Airbourne be live? Must they take out extra insurance in case they blow the rooves off the venues? They're tight too and that's kind of really important for a band playing in the style of AC/DC who have boasted the tightest rhythm section in the business for decades now.

And they hardly take a breath until track nine, Weapon of War, which has an intro and ominous tone to reflect its darker subject matter, even though it speeds up as well a minute and some in. Just like the Agnostic Front album I reviewed before this, this is a very quick half hour. Put the album on, rock out and, before you know it, it's time to repeat. The ten tracks only add up to a skimpy half an hour. That's kind of how AC/DC used to it, but sped up a notch so forty minutes only take thirty.

I like this, but it's almost impossible not to like Airbourne. The question is how much and I think I need to let it soak into my soul a little before I figure that out. I'm not sold on the opener yet, but Burnout the Nitro is a killer song and I like the slight shift to Rose Tattoo territory on This is Our City, even if it's not my favourite song here.

The really good news is that I'm not sure which one that is, because there's so much choice. It may well be Backseat Boogie, because that one just rips, especially during the solos. Then again, maybe it's Switchblade Angel or the inevitable Rock 'n' Roll for Life. They swoop in, grab us with a riff and a hook, then cast us aside, spent, after two or three minutes.

For now, I'll say that this is easily a 7/10, but it may well warrant higher marks and I'll address that by seeing how it stays in my head. Today I woke up with Switchblade Angel rattling around in there. That's a good sign! This fifth Airbourne album is is worthy, don't doubt it, but it may elevate too. I think it's an album that needs the benefit of hindsight to properly judge its value and that means time has to pass.

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