Airbourne - Black Dog Barking (2013) (updated) Jun 16, 2013 8:59:36 GMT -5
Post by Erik Rupp on Jun 16, 2013 8:59:36 GMT -5
Airbourne's international debut album, Runnin' Wild, was nothing short of a rousing success. It provided Rock and Roll with a much needed kick in the ass in the tradition of Australian bands like AC/DC and Rose Tattoo. It was a great straightforward, high energy, kick ass, no nonsense Hard Rock album.
It's follow up, No Guts, No Glory, was a fairly good album, but it paled in comparison to the band's previous album. As it turns out, even the band recognized the shortcomings of that album afterward, and they admitted that it was rushed.
Learning from ther mistakes, Airbourne took a little more time with the writing and recording of their new album, Black Dog Barking. The result? An album that rivals Runnin' Wild.
The lead single and video from Black Dog Barking, "Live It Up," is a monster of a high energy track - one that would have fit right in on Runnin' Wild and would have even been one of that album's highlights. This is a great song. Fairly simple, uptempo, and loaded with catchy riffs and vocal melodies. The fact that they put this at track number six on the album is interesting, too - usually a song that strong will lead off an album.
But, instead, Black Dog Barking opens with, "Ready To Rock," another high energy track with a call and response verse (singing over a drumbeat, and then the guitars respond with the riff). The song careens forward almost out of control at a breakneck pace. While it isn't quite as good as, "Live It Up," this track definitely serves notice - Airbourne is back, and they're back in business again. And they're going to musically kick your ass.
Pulling back the tempo to that upper mid-tempo zone that they can do so well, Airbourne follows, "Ready To Rock," with, "Animalize," an ode to Las Vegas. As on Runnin' Wild, Airbourne proves that they can do the AC/DC type thing better than AC/DC has done it since the 80's. This is catchy, foot tapping music that you can't help but bob your head to. The beat alone is infectious, and the riffs and vocal melodies just add to the infectiousness. This is a great track.
Then you read the next song title. "No On Fits Me (Better Than You)." Are you kidding me? Did Gene Simmons come up with that title in 1986? Well, he certainly could have, but aside from the dopey double-entendre title what about the song itself? Similar in tempo to it's predecessor this one is a half step down from, "Animalize," in just about every way possible, but it's still a good track - very good in context of the album as a whole.
After the three opening tracks it becomes clear that Airbourne is, "Back In The Game," as this song continues to make clear. It's a little slower than the last two tracks (not much, but a little), but the groove here is stronger than on the last track, as are the riffs and vocal melodies. This is another great song, and one that sounds a bit like Slaughter at their absolute best (with a totally different kind of singer, of course).
From there Airbourne shows off their, "Firepower," upping the tempo a bit and continuing their winning ways. It is a very good song, and another that works even better in context of the album than it would on it's own (and it would work on it's own just fine, thank you).
And then we come to the aforementioned, "Live It Up," which is a monumental track. Should this song have led off the entire album? A strong argument could be made that it should have, but even in the #6 slot (the start of the second half) it is extremely effective. It resets the album with a charge of High Voltage and sets the tone for what would have been Side 2 of the album in the vinyl/LP era. It is, without question, the best song on the album.
Following, "Live It Up," almost any song would pale in comparison, so instead of trying to compete with the high tempo, high octane, high energy style they pull back a little to the midtempo, "Woman Like That." This is a better song than the average album cuts on No Guts, No Glory. It may not be great (it IS very good for this kind of thing, though), but the change in tempo and mood from the previous song is effective.
One thing that becomes clear on Black Dog Barking - this band is, "Hungry." They pick the tempo back up for this one and up the attitude ante and end up with a winning hand. More good stuff.
By this point in the album it is clear that Black Dog Barking is a significant improvement from No Guts, No Glory, so no matter what the last two songs sound like they've come out ahead. Fortunately for fans of this kind of raw, no nonsense Aussie Pub Rock the last two songs are worthy additions to the album as a whole. "Cradle To The Grave," again out AC/DC's AC/DC while managing to add some different ingredients to that style, and the title track is a like a muscle car cruising down the road. Sure, it could go faster, but the horsepower is still impressive and the car looks damned cool. "Black Dog Barking," carries weight and has momentum. It is a juggernaut just rolling on down the highway, closing the album out in style.
Even the audio production is better on Black Dog Barking than on No Guts, No Glory. The album sounds just right as the mix doesn't sound overly modern, but is just a little bigger than the late 70's style production that they're emulating.
If you liked Runnin' Wild you'll like Black Dog Barking. It may not quite be as good as Runnin' Wild, but it is pretty darned close.