Sound — 8
Australia's rock scene has been blossoming in the past few years, with recent acts like Karnivool, Wolfmother, The Vines, Tame Impala, Jet, and Warrnambool's own Airbourne. With a thunderstruck sound that will immediately recall the godfather of all Australian rock bands, AC/DC, Airbourne's raunchy, riffy tunes are massive. Their music is not at all about reinventing the wheel, and this band is four albums in with pretty much the exact same sound that established them in the first place. Brothers Joel (vocals and guitar) and Ryan (drums) O'Keeffe anchor the lineup with David Roads (rhythm guitar) and Justin Street (bass), and for a four-piece, they make an impressive amount of racket. Big and beefy classic rock riffs, hard-hitting drums, raspy vocals, intense blues solo, solid drumming and bass playing, everything about this band's sound is meant to evoke the sound of bands like AC/DC, Thin Lizzy, and Nazareth, and sits quite perfectly with modern takes on classic rock like The Darkness and Steel Panther.
While the style is definitely a throwback, it's a very solid tribute to a simpler time for rock and roll. There's not a single ballad on the album, every song buoyed by a huge riff, and it's pretty much all just simple rock tunes. Joel O'Keeffe's guitar solos are pretty typical for the style, while showing that he is a pretty adept guitarist as well. The songwriting is mostly the same formula throughout, and as such, it's hard to pick one particular highlight from the album. Closing track "It's All for Rock N' Roll" is a bit slower-paced and has some really cool sort of "Hell's Bells"-style guitar riffing. "Breakin' Outta Hell" sets the tone for the album really well as an opener with a fast-paced riff that's actually got a really heavy sound for a band tackling '70s hard rock sounds. "It's Never Too Loud for Me" is as excellent of a tribute to high-volume rock music as anyone's put out in recent memory.
The production is every bit as simple as the music, as well. There's no filler on the album, no extra layers of ambiance, and producer Bob Marlette kept the album's sound tight and very meat-and-potatoes. It's a loud record, but it has a very clear, ballsy tone throughout. It's a very excellent-sounding record from a production standpoint, and it sounds as gritty and real as a good hard rock record should.
Lyrics — 8
Much like the bands they take their influences from, the lyrical themes on this record are incredibly simple, appealing to the most basic instincts of the typical rock fan. Sex is a huge factor in some of the lyrics (especially in the band's ode to cunnilingus, "Down on You"), but many of the songs explore the extremely metaphysical realms of rocking out about rocking out. "Breakin' Outta Hell" is about as bone-head simple of a mission statement as you'll get from this band, with Joel O'Keeffe proclaiming "I ain't got nothing to lose 'cause I don't have nothin'/Until I get where I'm going I'm gonna keep runnin'/I might be insane, but I sure ain't scared/'Cause I'm a crazy motherfucker and I just don't care." "It's Never Too Loud for Me" reinforces the message that if it's too loud, you're too old! "Rivalry" is exactly what it says on the tin. "Never Been Rocked Like This" and "It's All For Rock N' Roll" are anthems that will be sure to be huge crowd-pleasers. Joel O'Keeffe's vocals sound like a crazy mix of AC/DC's Brian Johnson and Nazareth's Dan McCafferty, and are perfectly suited to this style of music.
Overall Impression — 8
As far as throwbacks to classic rock go, many of them can come off as being quite cheesy or overblown (not wanting to say The Darkness or anything like that... but The Darkness), and some just don't match the musical quality of their forebearers. But the only band other than Steel Panther to really take that classic hard-rock sound and make it something worth listening to is Airbourne, for making it sound so genuine. It's brazenly simple and it's definitely not going to win over people who expect their music to be something new and original, but that's not what Airbourne is about. They came for one reason, to rock as hard as humanly possible, and they do it with such conviction and authenticity on this album that it doesn't sound like a throwback at all, but rather like an album that could sit easily alongside the classic rock albums by the bands they attempt to emulate. It's not the most original album ever, but if you're looking for a high-volume record with some of the beefiest guitar sounds this side of Malcolm Young, you can't go wrong with "Breakin' Outta Hell."