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Airbourne - Breakin' Outta Hell (Album Review)

Friday, 23 September 2016 Written by Simon Ramsay

After three records of head-cracking, ear-dicing, nun-kicking rock ‘n’ roll insanity, Aussie hellraisers Airbourne have completely revamped their sound on album four. Perched on stools with acoustic instruments in hand, the newly short-haired gents have crafted a tender, introspective effort that explores masculine insecurity, environmental issues and overwhelming feelings of sexual inadequacy. And if you believe that…

AC/DC. Sex. AC/DC. Rockin’. AC/DC. Rollin’. AC/DC. Drinking. AC/DC. Loud. There aren’t many words in Airbourne’s musical lexicon, and evolution and subtlety are as welcome on that list as a sparkly disco number on frontman Joel O’Keeffe’s iPod. If you want chameleonic acts who reinvent themselves, or progressive musicians exploring weird new territories then, brother, you are in the wrong place.

These guys are the musical equivalent of your favourite whiskey when the chips are down and you need to send your mind on a one way trip to oblivion.

The draw is familiarity, a reassuring sense that as soon as you hit play, you know what’s coming for you. We’re talking no-nonsense anthems that could enter the china shop, scare the living shit out of the bull and lay waste to the crockery faster than you could raise a set of devil horns.

From decibel-saluting mission statement It’s Never Too Loud For Me to the hilariously frazzled When I Drink I Go Crazy and Lemmy tribute It’s All For Rock ‘N’ Roll, this album delivers hard rock firepower in spades, while also boasting flame-throwing hooks that are so infectious they should be quarantined.

Re-teaming with producer Bob Marlette, who helmed their ‘Runnin’ Wild’ debut, has resulted in a streamlined balls-to-the-wall directness – see the ripping fireball-punk of Thin The Blood – that harkens back to that bow, while also preserving the improved songwriting smarts of ‘Black Dog Barking’.

The title-track and Rivalry, in particular, are two of the finest cuts they’ve recorded, with the former’s weapons-grade energy and snotty Stooges verses capped off by a chorus of molten lava. The latter is a brain-bashing sonic manifestation of ‘come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough’. The equally brilliant I’m Going To Hell For This, meanwhile, finds O'Keeffe realising that sleeping with a married woman will most likely end up with him and Lucifer becoming landlord and tenant.

But, although ‘Breakin’ Outta Hell’ delivers exactly what you’d want from an Airbourne album, after the career best ‘Black Dog Barking’ it feels like a slight let down as they haven’t bettered it. Regardless of their energy and conviction, by the record’s latter stages it duly gets a little samey and could use some of the musical dynamism of, say, a Back In Black, Hells Bells or Let There Be Rock to inject some fresh stylistic venom into proceedings. And the less said about the embarrassingly straight-faced, single entendre filth of Down On You the better.

Still, over-analysing Airbourne’s music feels about as appropriate as writing an academic thesis on Donald Trump’s liberal ideology. “Ultimately, we just wanted to make a great drinking record,” Joel told recently told Team Rock. “That’s what this album is about: no ballads, no bullshit, just hard rocking songs that help you break out of hell.” Mission pretty much accomplished, then.

Airbourne Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Thu November 17 2016 - PORTSMOUTH Pyramids
Fri November 18 2016 - NORWICH Norwich Nick Rayns LCR UEA
Sat November 19 2016 - NOTTINGHAM Rock City
Mon November 21 2016 - BIRMINGHAM O2 Institute
Tue November 22 2016 - LEEDS O2 Academy Leeds
Wed November 23 2016 - NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE O2 Academy Newcastle
Thu November 24 2016 - GLASGOW Barrowland
Sat November 26 2016 - MANCHESTER O2 Ritz
Sun November 27 2016 - LONDON Electric Ballroom
Mon November 28 2016 - LONDON Electric Ballroom
Tue November 29 2016 - LONDON Electric Ballroom

Click here to compare & buy Airbourne Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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