Airbourne - Boneshaker

Airbourne Boneshaker cover
Spinefarm Records
The bastard nephews of AC/DC, Australia’s Airbourne, have grown to be a pretty big attraction on their own, but in all truth, past their first couple of albums, they haven’t been able to keep up the whole doppelganger game, as well as they did initially, despite the best intentions they might have had and I feel that this is in no small part due to them trying too hard. What do I mean? Whereas AC/DC will probably come up with whatever Angus’s little perverted mind might come up with and it could be a blues song, a boogie, a more hard rock tune, Airbourne try too hard to project the whole machismo aspect to the point where, while it doesn’t sound fake, it does sound a little pretentious. Ooh and this album also marks the recording debut of their new rhythm guitarist Matt Harrison, who replaced long running guitarist Dave Roads that had been with the band up to 2017.
Another problem is their switching of labels from a US based one to a European, subsidiary of Universal, which means they’re losing their footing in one of the bigger markets and last but not least – the sadly undeniable fact, that the B-sides album they released a couple of years ago was probably more exciting that their last couple of albums…
“Boneshaker”, the album, tries a little to get things back to the right track and starting off with the eponymous track with its “Dirty Deeds” vibe… it sort of gets you to foot-tapping…
“Burnout the Nitro” doesn’t do things much differently, other than add a bit more sliding on the guitars, and some gang vocals, which probably make it go down a little easier.
“This is Our City” keeps the chest pumping machismo up, but it’s so cliché, even in the clichés it uses that it begins to feel a little tiresome and I was almost thankful that JOK would shut up to play his guitar at some point.
“Sex to Go” has the swagger of 70s Accedecce, but other than sounding like something that Bon Scott could have come out while taking a piss – and it would still have sounded less crude, there ain’t much else to go on.
Likewise “Backseat Boogie” walks the walk, but doesn’t talk the talk… at least not with the same sort of conviction the progenitors did or even Airbourne could early on.
Too one track… and none is more so than “Blood in the Water” that takes a “Whole Lotta…” riff and runs away with it, with makeshift lyrics that hardly rhyme well.
“She Gives Me Hell” tries hard, but ultimately fails to convince… about the honesty of its intentions… and when it comes to this simple sort of rock ‘n roll, the worst thing is to be second guessing yourself, while the boogie roll is sweet the way the vocals are mounted on top, isn’t.
“Switchblade Angel” almost gets away, with is histrionics, which pummel you in leaving you no time to really doubt anything. It’s not perfect, but it’s fast enough to sass anyone who would sass it.
“Weapons of War” tries to be a more serious song – about shellshocked soldiers and it’s even twice as long as most of the other songs here… while it’s not some sort of fantastic tune, its change of pace and slightly experimental mode, make it interesting at the very least, although its overall pacing can be described as erratic at best.
Lastly, “Rock n Roll for Life” feels like a mix between the “Rocker” and “Let There Be Rock” with a softer mid-section. Not too bad…
Airbourne past the first couple of albums seem unable to rise above the giant shadow of AC/DC, but even to match their own debut’s achievements, offering a mix of mostly forgettable discount AC-Rockers that don’t quite strike a chord with as many people. While “Boneshaker” has a few songs that feel marginally better than anything on their most recent releases, it feels patchy as a whole at best… so not something to really write home about.