Airbourne - No Guts, No Glory (2010) Apr 28, 2010 12:05:35 GMT -5
Post by Erik Rupp on Apr 28, 2010 12:05:35 GMT -5
Get past the goofy album cover and No Guts, No Glory is really a good Hard Rock album.
Sure, it continues Airbourne's completely unoriginal musical style (take three parts AC/DC, one part Rose Tattoo, one part classic Motorhead, add just a pinch of their own style and - voila! Airbourne!), but it, like it's predecessor, Running Wild, is a fun, raucous Rock and Roll album that's perfect for listening while driving the car.
No Guts, No Glory explodes out of the gate with, "Born to Kill," which literally picks up where Running Wild left off. Fast, furious, and filled with an infectious energy, "Born to Kill," is just so damned much fun that it's derivative musical style can be forgiven. Hell, even the solo sounds like Angus Young stopped by the studio and laid down some lead work, but does that matter? Considering that AC/DC's latest album has precious little on it with this kind of energy the musical style borrowing isn't a negative.
"No Way but the Hard Way," brings the tempo down to the standard mid tempo AC/DC beat (think, "You Shook Me All Night Long"), and does so very effectively. It's another catchy song with such a strong beat that it almost causes involuntary responses to do a little air headbanging. Get used to it, because there's a lot more to come.
It would seem that lead singer/lead guitarist Joel O'Keefe likes them, "Blonde, Bad, and Beautiful," from the lyrics on the next song. Sure, this is the kind of stuff that guys right out of high school would write lyrically, but since when has this kind of Hard Rock been about deep lyrics? Rose Tattoo was never known for introspective or intellectual lyrics, and Airbourne won't be, either. This is another mid tempo track with a beat that just propels it forward. It has solid guitar parts that support the vocal melodies, and while it isn't a great song, it's still fun and works very well as an album cut.
"Raise the Flag," ups the tempo while adding a spastic guitar part in the chorus that works well in tandem with the vocal hook, where, "Bottom of the Well," starts off moodier before building to a slower mid tempo beat and a big chorus. "Bottom," actually shows a good sense of dynamics and makes for a good change of pace on the album.
The first sign of style fatigue comes on, "White Line Fever," as song that isn't bad, but is so run of the mill that it comes across as a weak link on the album. It's the first partial misstep for Airbourne since the opening cut on Running Wild. Again, it isn't bad - it's just so... ordinary. It's almost generic. Hell, considering the AC/DC-isms it really could be called generic.
"It Ain't Over Till it's Over," brings things back to a higher energy level with it's frenetic, hyperactive beat, guitar riffs, and vocal delivery. This is the kind of thing that AC/DC did so well back in the 70's but have largely abandoned over the last 20 years. It really isn't any more original than the last song, but the energy level is so high and it's so much fun that it's easier to get past the familiarity of the style than it was with, "White Line Fever."
To keep the album paced right they go back to an upper mid tempo track with, "Steel Town." With it's pumping beat and throbbing bass line in the verse it just keeps moving forward until it gets to the chorus. The chorus is, again, generic. Not bad, but we've all heard this kind of thing before (and often done better). This is just average, mediocre Hard Rock. Uninspired might be a good word for it, because on Running Wild the songs weren't any more original, but they were written with more conviction and had stronger riffs and hooks than, "White Line Fever," or, "Steel Town."
The next track does get back to that conviction that made Running Wild so great. "Chewin' the Fat," is another goofy song lyrically, but it's catchy and again works well in the context of the album as a whole. Unfortunately, by the time, "Get Busy Livin," comes on there is a certain amount of fatigue that starts to set in. Haven't we heard this song on the album already? I guess not, but it's so familiar that it seems like it's already been repeated on the album. A faster song with a more memorable central riff would have worked wonders in this spot - and Airbourne is certainly capable of delivering that kind of song.
And up next they do deliver a song with a stronger beat, a more memorable riff, and a rock solid, memorable, chorus vocal hook. "Armed and Dangerous," is first class Australian Pub Rock, and it's the kind of thing that Airbourne has done so well over the last few years. It may not be an uptempo track (until the last minute of the song, when the tempo is moved up quite a bit), but it is a very, very strong song and is an example of why a lot of people say that Airbourne does this kind of thing better than AC/DC does these days.
It's back to, "You Shook Me All Night Long," for the template on, "Overdrive." It's not a carbon copy or anything, but the beat and overall feel is similar. This isn't the best song on the album, or even second or third best, but it is good and is another song that is an asset to the album.
To leave a strong last impression Airbourne plays at top speed on, "Back on the Bottle," another standard issue Australian Pub Rock kind of song that is aided greatly by the fast tempo. Or is it? This is a song that might actually work even better with a strong, propulsive mid tempo beat to give the thing a chance to breathe. Instead, they give it the fast, fast treatment. It works. And it serves the purpose of ending the album on an explosive, energetic note.
Running Wild was eleven songs long. No Guts, No Glory features 13 songs. It might have benefitted from a little editing in the song selection department. Drop, "White Line Fever," and, "Steel Town," and the album might sound a little more special, and might not suffer from the style fatigue that creeps in here and there with the current track listing.
Still, No Guts, No Glory is a good album. It continues what Airbourne did so spectacularly on Running Wild. It just doesn't do it quite as well. It does come close, though.
Maybe the change of producer from Bob Marlette to Johnny K. is part of the reason. Marlette is a veteran producer who has worked with bands that play straightforward Hard Rock and Heavy Metal. Johnny K. is a guy who has worked mostly with modern bands and not this kind of Rock that has it's roots firmly planted in the 1970-1988 era. Would Marlette's participation in place of Johnny K. have made for a better album? Maybe.
Either way, No Guts, No Glory is a good album and a good musical companion to Running Wild.