AC/DC soundalike bands are a dime a dozen and I’ve lost count of the number of CDs by such bands that have littered my desk over the years.
Few if any have ever had much appeal beyond novelty value, particularly if — as it usually the case — their only notable aspect is that they sound like AC/DC. Airbourne is different. There are few bands in recent memory who have copied another band as well as these guys do and yet made it work so well, because as much as they do sound like their idols, they have a vibrant, youthful energy coupled with an aggression in their playing that AC/DC has lacked since Bon Scott was alive.
Airbourne has nailed the classic AC/DC sound right down to Malcolm Young’s guitar tone, but unlike bands like Rhino Bucket and Krokus who also plundered the Youngs’ riff arsenal mercilessly, these Aussie lads also know how to write a bunch of catchy songs that manage to stay in your head once the album is over. They may not yet be able to quite fill an entire album with them, but they certainly have some good ones. The opening four tracks of No Guts. No Glory. are prime slices of mid-70s Aussie hard rock, buffed, polished, re-booted and re-energised into early 21st Century mode. It’s fist-pumpin’, headbangin’, chorus-shoutin’, heavy rockin’ goodness from the first moment and continues rocking until well into the playlist with gutsy, earthy blue-collar rock n’ roll that is at least as good and often even better than anything AC/DC has done in almost two decades. Joel O’Keefe’s sneering wail has enough of the sound and power of his heroes to be authentic but retains a character of its own, although as the album ploughs on, he does begin to sound more and more like Brian Johnson.
Where the album falls down is in its length. At 47 minutes, No Guts. No Glory. is way too long for an album of heavy-as-shit rock n roll and after about track eight, the songs really start to take on a sameness that makes it drag out. “Chewin’ the Fat” and “Get Busy Livin'” sound remarkably alike, with a build to the chorus that got me thinking of “What Do You Do For Money, Honey?”, and “Armed and Dangerous” was almost the same, with “Shoot to Thrill” chucked in to boot. The raucous drinking anthem “Back on the Bottle” lifts it again in time to finish though, unless you decide on the Special Edition, which wears out the welcome even more by including another five tracks that simply aren’t as good: “Kickin’ it Old School” is a total waste of two and a half minutes. Still, this is the best album of pure high voltage rock n’ roll since the last Airbourne album, and that includes Black Ice.
No Guts. No Glory. No frills. Just rock. Crank it!
1. Born to Kill
2. No Way but the Hard Way
3. Blonde, Bad and Beautiful
4. Raise the Flag
5. Bottom of the Well
6. White Line Fever
7. It Ain’t Over till it’s Over
8. Steel Town
9. Chewin’ the Fat
10. Get Busy Livin’
11. Armed and Dangerous
13. Back on the Bottle