Runnin' Wild


Roadrunner Records, 2008

REVIEW BY: Jeff Clutterbuck


Let’s just get this out of the way right now: AC/DC may still be in existence and (theoretically) releasing new material, but as far as this reviewer is concerned, they do not matter anymore. There is a new avenue to travel down to hear the “AC/DC formula” carried out to perfection, and that is with a new band from Australia called Airbourne.

The first time I listened through the album in its entirety, my face was plastered with a permanent smile; I simply could not believe what I was hearing. You would think it would be easy to recapture the energy that AC/DC displayed during their prime, and to be sure, other bands have tried. However, no group that I have ever heard has been able to inhabit the AC/DC sound like Airbourne.

Rock n’ roll, for all of its pretentiousness and artistic integrity, oftentimes works best when it is simplified and played from the heart. Sex, drugs, rock n’ roll – what better aspects of life to sing about? Juvenile as hell? Sure, but damn it, you’ll have a good time (unless your first name is Tipper). AC/DC understood this and Airbourne does as well.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Trying to pick out singular moments from Runnin’ Wild is a semi-futile affair; the entirety of the record hits you like a brick wall. The powerful, crunching, dueling guitar riffs, the balls to the walls/rip your throat out vocals, the lyrics that you can’t resist screaming at the top of your lungs while driving 65 mph -- they’re all here. I do not feel at all sacrilegious in saying that at least two, if not more, of these tracks could have fit into Back In Black perfectly with no drop-off in quality.

From the first note, there is not a time when you’d place Airbourne as a band who utilizes synthesizers or sampled beats or any other stylistic device artists are using today. There is no sterile, studio-influenced sound. The grit is there; it’s messy, it’s glorious, and it’s loud.  The full fury that is unleashed here hearkens back to the old days when bands didn’t have to worry about looking pretty for a music video or pandering to the record labels to sell a few extra records. When I say Runnin’ Wild is a classic rock album, I mean it.

I will admit that Bon Scott and Brian Johnson are rock gods and no one can truly replace them. Lead singer Joel O’Keefe seeks to emulate them, especially Johnson, and does a damn good job of it. This is guy who would never make it to the Final Five in America Idol, but if you told him that he would most likely flip you off and go **** your girlfriend. He’s down and dirty in the ways that only a rock n’ roll singer can be and more than matches his bandmates in intensity.

It has been an incredibly long time since I have listened to an album that was this much fun. It’s both an homage and a unique creation and drops easily back and forth between the two. It will be a crime if these guys don't make it big; with a sound like this, however, it would seem to be only a matter of time until they do.

Rating: A

User Rating: B+



© 2008 Jeff Clutterbuck and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Roadrunner Records, and is used for informational purposes only.