In case you couldn’t tell, Airbourne like AC/DC. Like, a lot. So much so, they’ve built their entire career around following the path the hard rock veterans have taken pretty much step for step – make loud, simple, largely ignorant rock ‘n’ roll album after album without shaking up the formula whatsoever. It seems to have worked for them though – the Australian quintet have become arena-fillers and main stagers worldwide since their formation in 2003, and their fourth full-length Breakin’ Outta Hell shows no sign of that changing any time soon.
That’s mainly because this album is simply Airbourne doing what they do best – good time music about whisky, women and the wonders of pure, unadulterated rock ‘n’ roll. It’s not intellectual in the slightest, and yes, it still sounds so much like AC/DC that it passes hero worship and goes straight to fanboying, but it’s a ridiculously fun listen. Plus, even if they are flagrantly aping AC/DC, at least they sound like AC/DC at their best – frontman Joel O’Keefe sounds more like Brian Johnson than Brian Johnson does nowadays, and there’s an energy and a “live fast, die young” attitude that makes pretty much the entire album an utter riot. Between the barroom brawl soundtrack of Thin The Blood to I’m Going To Hell For This‘s bluesed-up hard rock shredding, Airbourne pretty much hit every point on the spectrum for storming rock ‘n’ roll. Even the slowed down stomp of Rivalry fits the bill thanks to O’Keefe’s skyscraping shrieks elevating it to true anthem status.
But while Breakin’ Outta Hell‘s musicianship remains excellent throughout, lyrically it plumbs the same cringeworthy depths as the ’80s bands that Airbourne idolise. And while the usual sticky fingered dubiousness is nothing different than some of what was written thirty years ago – Do Me Like You Do Yourself is literally a song where the narrator hears his neighbour masturbating and goes to have sex with her – some of the lyrical choices are just bizarre. Down On You‘s verbose opening gambit of “When I was a boy / I played with my toy / Every single day / Ooh, it was a joy” is bad enough (though, given the context of the song, could easily be another euphemism), but then there’s When I Drink I Go Crazy, home to such gold-plated lyrics as “Standing drunk in the middle of the road / Directing traffic like a ninja”. Okay?
In Airbourne’s defence though, they at least manage to hit the ridiculousness of their influences lyrically, but even then, scrutinising the lyrics of an album like this is somewhat missing the point. As with all of Airbourne’s albums, Breakin’ Outta Hell is designed as nothing more than an ignorant blowout of an album, one to switch your brain off to and play loud. In that respect, it barely puts a foot out of line – I’m Going To Hell For This and Get Back Up are the kind of ironclad anthems that will undoubtedly sound best when screamed from thousands-strong festival crowds, and with the album’s coda of It’s All For Rock ‘N’ Roll, Airbourne’s intentions are summed up perfectly. This is a band whose only aim is to make the most brash, boozy rock ‘n’ roll they can, and Breakin’ Outta Hell is undoubtedly that. It couldn’t be more inessential, but it’s perhaps one of the most convincing, enjoyable examples of pure-blooded rockstar-ness to be released this year.
For fans of: AC/DC, Mötley Crüe, Steel Panther
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Breakin’ Outta Hell’ by Airbourne is released on 23rd September on Spinefarm Records.