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Airbourne - Black Dog Barking

The cover for Black Dog Barking was striking to me. A simple artistic representation of what the title suggests. The band name seems kind of weak to me. Like an 80’s hair metal band or something. The fact that this is a Roadrunner release suggests that this should be a pretty heavy record.

Released May 21, 2013 on Roadrunner Records

Track listing

1. “Ready to Rock” 5:24
2. “Animalize” 3:03
3. “No One Fits Me (Better than You)” 3:06
4. “Back in the Game” 3:25
5. “Firepower” 2:59
6. “Live It Up” 4:26
7. “Woman Like That” 3:14
8. “Hungry” 2:56
9. “Cradle to the Grave” 3:22
10. “Black Dog Barking” 2:59

Deluxe edition tracks

11. “Jack Attack” 2:52
12. “You Got the Skills (to Pay the Bills)” 3:33
13. “Party in the Penthouse” 3:09

At the very beginning of “Ready to Rock” I feel like I’m in for a Bon Jovi type of record. Wait, nope, a total shift. This sounds like old school Rock ‘N Roll. Some AC/DC type of rock. The singer sounds like how you would expect. You can tell these guys love to get up and jam. Not as heavy as I was expecting. The backing vocals have that 80s feel to them for sure.

“Animalize” starts out with a heavy AC/DC influence. I’m not sure who this singer reminds me of but it seems like I’ve heard him before. This is a track made for radio. Very catchy. There’s a part that reminds me of Megadeth tracks when Dave starts talking. That part is just meh. The rest of the song I really like though.

“No One Fits Me (Better than You)” is another track with that AC/DC feel. In fact if I had just heard this on the radio I probably would have thought it a new track from them. It’s another good track. It’s just one of those songs that you feel you’ve heard before.

The track “Back in the Game” is still hard rock, but slightly slower than the other tracks. This one has the most 80s metal feel so far. I love the drums on this one the most of the songs I’ve heard. The chorus reminds me of Bon Jovi.

“Firepower” is trying resurrect hair metal. This would have been huge back in the day. I don’t really have much to say about this one. The song is pretty good, but again, it’s nothing I haven’t heard before.

There is a lot going on in the intro to “Live it Up”. The song slowly builds into a hard rocker. This one reminds me of some Mötley Crüe songs. Definitely has an arena rock/ 80s metal feel to it. They know the sound they want and seem to going right at the heart of it.

“Woman Like That” goes back to the AC/DC inspiration. Again, it’s not a bad track by any means, just nothing special. It’s all a throwback it seems.

Up next is another heavy 80s influenced track, “Hungry”. Very up tempo track. Would be a good track to drive fast too. For a track that is just under 3 minutes it seems to drag on towards the end of it.

“Cradle to the Grave” I swear I’ve heard before. Like most of the other tracks on the record they just have that “I’ve heard this already” feel to them. Still a good song. I’ll rock it in my car.

The title track “Black Dog Barking” goes right back to the AC/DC still set of the band. Another hard rocker. Another great song. Another track that sounds like many other songs I’ve heard since the 80s. I’m sensing a theme here.

The edition that I got came with 3 extra tracks. The first one is “Jack Attack”. It almost sounds like a live track. More AC/DC influence. So much so that I almost feel like I’m listening to a cover band, albeit a very good one.

“You Got the Skills (to Pay the Bills)” sounds… you guessed it… I’m not even going to say it this time. Fuck, I feel like I’m just repeating myself at this point. Sounds like it was taken straight off of Back In Black or Highway to Hell. Yet another great song, just nothing special about it.

The final track of the extras is “Party in the Penthouse”. This one surprisingly doesn’t sound exactly like an AC/DC ripoff track. I guess these last three are supposed to be live tracks from one of their tours. If so the sound is very polished, and they sound like they would put on a pretty decent show.

Although this is a really good record I’m highly disappointed. I honestly felt like they were copying AC/DC instead of paying them homage. It reminded me of when you hear a band forever and start to say “They really need to change up their sound, all their songs are sounding the same.” Except it’s not THEIR sound, it’s someone else’s. I was right on the money with the 80s hair metal. I really thought it was going to be much more brutal though. Ultimately I’m most disappointed by how safe the record is. They took no chances with it. To the point that they didn’t even craft their own sound, just co-opted others. If you like AC/DC you will like this album and you should go pick it up. While I did enjoy the record I doubt I’d ever listen to it straight through again. Their tracks seem to work better in shuffle mode mixed in with other bands.

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