Airbourne – Boneshaker (Spinefarm)
Airbourne’s brave decision to hook up with super producer Dave Cobb in the heart of Nashville inevitably set tongues wagging.
Would the man responsible for Chris Stapleton’s Traveler and Europe’s Walk The Earth initiate a spectacular transformation of four down to earth blokes from Down Under?
Might Cobb tap into a rich vein of Southern rock-tinged vocal harmonies or reveal Airbourne’s hitherto hidden AOR side?
In a word, no.
In fact, those hoping for a country-tinged, Rival Sons-esque reboot of AC/DC’s heirs apparent better look away now.
Rather predictably, Boneshaker is no groundbreaker. And it was never bloody well going to be.
You see, Airbourne are the very epitome of formulaic rock and roll.
All balls, no ballads and one big record every three years. Without fail.
‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ could be the title of the band’s biography – if anyone ever believed there was a market for the rowdy Melbourne mob’s beer-soaked underdog story.
And if that means mind-numbing boredom and three-chord monotony for some then it guarantees fist-pumping consistency and party-starting quality for Airbourne’s growing army of unswervingly loyal, denim-clad acolytes.
Let’s face it, Cobb would have been crazy to explore Joel O’Keeffe’s softer side or encourage brother Ryan to employ a jazzier beat.
He would have failed spectacularly with any fanciful reimagining of the Aussie siblings and their long-time buddies as fast-maturing classic rock icons.
And so Cobb simply went about subtly accentuating the trademark sound that’s pounded eardrums and killed conversations for the best part of 15 years.
As a result, Boneshaker became the most brutal Airbourne album to date.
The pummelling title track does what it says on the tin while This Is Our City is a ready-made live favourite set to unite fans worldwide.
Those still seeking a hint of evolution might find it on Switchblade Angel or the oppressive Weapon Of War but both songs – although relatively progressive by Airbourne’s standards – proudly retain the band’s feral blueprint.
Boneshaker might have been forged in Music City but it’s the sound of the rock and roll wasteland. Unforgiving, uncompromising and unmistakably Airbourne.
Thank f**k for that.