Airbourne - Breakin’ Outta Hell album review

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss

Airbourne band photograph

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Four albums in and utterly unsullied by sophistication, Airbourne continue to plough a familiar furrow as viscerally irresistible as it is cerebrally indefensible.

With each track’s feral combination of barbed-wire riffs, alcohol-numbed throat savagery, crotch-level bass and propulsive, pounding beats, your better judgement simply rolls its eyes as your feet drag you helpless to the dance floor.

Clearly, against rock this pumped and potent, all resistance is futile, so you’re best advised to simply surrender to the cliché because, like it or not, the cliché has been a key ingredient of all we hold dear since the first white boy chose to shamelessly abuse the blues at nosebleed volume.

Clichés served raw will always jar, but slow-cooked in the collective psyche they gradually slot naturally into the rock pantheon. Live with these songs for long enough and time will dull the factory-fresh sheen of their generic familiarity, just as it did with Gillespie’s ‘honey’s and Astbury’s ‘baby-baby’s. There was a time when veteran bluesers even reacted to new kid Robert Plant’s prolific Zep-era ‘babe’-ing with a jaded eyebrow and a withering “Really?”

So once you simply accept that Breakin’ Outta Hell isn’t fiercely experimental or in any way progressive, you can simply move on, and rather than condemn Airbourne for what they’re not, appreciate them for what they are. Which is, evidently, one hell of a rock’n’roll band.

The insanely rapid beat of Thin The Blood bounces like a porn-shoot mattress, while the riff of It’s Never Too Loud For Me drags you involuntarily out of your seat whether loaded in a rock bar or seated before a screen, soberly intent on tapping out a review. Rivalry bumps and grinds to Slade-ish gang vocals, Get Back Up boasts an elemental primitivism that will leave you choking on a manly fug of testosterone.

There’s an all-pervasive ensemble swagger that sounds utterly instinctive and uncontrived. Everything happens when, and as, it should, you know when the crystal-shattering guitar solo will come, you know exactly what will be played, and your reassuring delight when it’s delivered with predictable reliability is as satisfying as a bucket of branded chicken. It may not be haute cuisine, but it hits the spot every time.

Ultimately, Airbourne play honest, no-nonsense, straight-down-the-line classic rock in a manner true to all the basic tenets of the genre. And if you’ve got a problem with that, well, what are you even doing here?

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Ian Fortnam

Classic Rock’s Reviews Editor for the last 20 years, Ian stapled his first fanzine in 1977. Since misspending his youth by way of ‘research’ his work has also appeared in such publications as Metal Hammer, Prog, NME, Uncut, Kerrang!, VOX, The Face, The Guardian, Total Guitar, Guitarist, Electronic Sound, Record Collector and across the internet. Permanently buried under mountains of recorded media, ears ringing from a lifetime of gigs, he enjoys nothing more than recreationally throttling a guitar and following a baptism of punk fire has played in bands for 45 years, releasing recordings via Esoteric Antenna and Cleopatra Records.