Album Review : Airbourne – Black Dog Barking (2013)

The band come back from the last album with yet another producer. Brian Howes is a Canadian so perhaps he can add some Canuck edge to this recording. He made his bones with bands I am not as fond of such as Hedley and Nickelback. However, he did work with some artists I do enjoy such as Halestorm, and now Airbourne. Brian Howes and JVP team up yet again on this album. JVP handling the mixing and engineering. Lastly Ted Jensen handles the mastering on this one. That is a pretty big 1-2-3 punch. Let’s see if it lives up to it.

Ready To Rock – In the first 2 seconds I know the mixing and production will be better than the last album. This one sounds great. Let the band do what they do best, and don’t over-produce them. Football stadium chants come and go which quickly give way to a rising guitar noise and pounding drums. This band is definitely ready to rock.

Animalize – Sorry Kiss fans. This is not a tribute to that album. The song does have a bit of a Domino sound to it at the start. Joel’s voice starts off in a Gene-like lower register and then gets higher and louder. If Gene Simmons had done a collaboration with Def Leppard in the early 90’s this may have been the result.

No One Fits Me (Better Than You) – Toe tapper drumming and electric guitar wails fill this song. A short but sweet song that was co-written by Brian Howes.

Back In The Game – Wicked guitar begins this one off. However, the bass, rhythm and drums don’t want to be left out. The background vocals help Joel take this over the edge.

Firepower – This song could have easily been on High ‘n’ Dry. It sounds raw and hungry like an early Def Lep. If Mutt Lange had said to the boys in 1981 ‘Let’s try and get that AC/DC sound boys”, this could have been the result.

Live It Up – The band wait until the flip side of the record to include the hit single. Risky yes, but well worth the wait. Air Raid sirens, dive bombing planes and guitar. Not quite Aces High, but still pretty awesome. (The video does not include the air raid sirens or planes, although it does include hot girls and Australian 4 door cars doing burn outs, so)

Woman Like That – Different yet amazing guitar is played throughout this song. The background chants and Joel’s vocal range are the real stars here. This song emphasizes the input a producer can have on an album. Sometimes good, sometimes bad. In this case, it is not just good, but great. Nice work Brian. This is a unique side of Airbourne. They show us they can branch off and grow.

Hungry – What would you get if you threw Megadeth, a death growl guttural vocalist and a flamenco guitarist into a blender and pushed Frappe. Why this weird and wonderful song of course.

Cradle To The Grave – More toe tapper drumming, Joel screams, and wonderful guitar. The wicked laughs, deeper vocals, and sweet harmony are a nice touch too.

Black Dog Barking – Funny to see the title song on the end of the album.I LOVE the lyrics to this song.

Hey gutless idol
With nothing on the inside
Your five minutes are up
And you’re livin’ on borrowed time
So stick ya ‘d’ tuned guitar
You shoe-gazing wannabe
I’m a hurricane comin’
And hell’s coming with me
Guitar attack
So watch your back
I’m the black dog
Black dog barking
Black dog
Black dog barking
I’m the black dog
Black dog barking
Black dog
Black dog barking
Your better sit down buddy
I got bad news for you
You never learned how to play
Now your posing days are through
Every kid with a guitar
Is gonna show you it’s done
And we ain’t gonna stop until the war is won
Guitar attack
So watch you back
I’m the black dog
Black dog barking
Black dog
Black dog barking
I’m the black dog
Black dog barking
Black dog
Black dog barking
I’m gonna getcha tonight
It’s not

The song is a knock against the wave of “Idol” tv shows around the world and the wannabes that emerge from them. The ‘Black Dog Barking’ is a metaphor that represents Airbourne. They may not be on the top of the charts, or the most popular band in the world, but they play their own instruments, don’t give a shit what anyone thinks, won’t change their ways, and continue to rock n roll.

Much better production. 10 songs with no filler. Sound cranked up to 11. I like it.

For fans of early Def Leppard, 90’s Kiss, AC/DC, Accept, Rose Tattoo, Megadeth, guttural screams and a touch of flamenco.

9/10

 

 

 

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