[amtap amazon:asin=B00342URJ0]Bands have spent decades trying to crack the AC/DC nut so they too might create rock with the same foundational perfection. The overwhelming majority have failed, sounding at best like a caricature of the masters. However, fellow Australians Airbourne have dug out AC/DC’s sweet meat on their sophomore platter, No Guts. No Glory (released March 8 on Roadrunner). AC/DC can be a good laugh but never treat the material as laughable, and Airbourne does the same, resulting in pure hard rock that by turns evokes both Bon-era bite and the rounder pop sophistication of the Brian Johnson years.
Stomping around in AC/DC’s territory is a bit like being a martial arts actor trying to figure out what Jackie Chan and Jet Li haven’t already gotten to. Pulling the stunt off and not looking like a copycat is a much tougher feat than it might seem, and impressively, Airbourne has done it on No Guts. Sure, most of the words are slogans engineered to be shouted with beery gusto, but Airbourne still has the cobbles to include a full lyrics booklet, and when married to stinging riff machines Joel O’Keeffe and David Roads and Joel’s gritty great voice, well, it just fucking works. You may be consulting the booklet after all to make sure you bark along correctly with Bon-esque gems like, “She’s like a rose in bloom/ a love tattoo/ that’s under my skin and there’s nothing I can do!”
There’s more to Airbourne than being a second-gen AC/DC, but there’s no shame in hewing close to their line either. What makes Airbourne succeed where others fail is the way they connect with the same root sources as the Brothers Young and the men who play with them. One picks up on Jerry Lee’s howl and Bo Diddley’s gruesome stomp, The Sonics’ drag-race speed and Savoy Brown’s charred boogie, and the whole thing struts on firm, young legs ready to kick your ass from here to Sydney.
Note: The special edition of No Guts includes five more tumblers including the marvelously titled “My Dynamite Will Blow You Sky High (And Get Ya Moanin’ After Midnight).” Sometimes subtlety is overrated.