Airbourne- Runnin’ Wild
It’s been nearly two years since Wolfmother made it big with their catchy retro-rock single “Woman,” but it seems that the success of that single has once again brought a trend of 70s and 80s hard rock riffs to the mainstream. Airbourne is yet another recent band that is been heavily influenced by classic hard rock, and although it could be argued that they are the first of the modern day retro-rock bands to successfully mimic the style of AC/DC, there is really no reason to listen to Runnin’ Wild when AC/DC has been playing this same sound better for over 30 years. Unlike Wolfmother, who would have fit in alongside their influences as a separate band in the 70s, Airbourne make the mistake of copying only one specific band, as opposed to simply being a modern band that plays a classic style of rock. The biggest problem with trying to copy a band like AC/DC is that their style is exceptionally basic and easy to copy, and it’s not the style itself that made AC/DC timeless in the first place. Back in Black and Highway to Hell have stood the test of time, not because they did anything particularly complicated or unique, but instead because the songs contained heavy yet catchy riffs that almost begged to be air guitared along to. Runnin’ Wild is proof that even the most accurate of copies can’t replace timeless riffs. Airbourne brings nothing new to the formula, and the flaws of the AC/DC-influenced sound are far more apparent in 2008. That being said, this is one of the most accurate AC/DC clones out there, and it can be mildly recommended to those who are willing to settle for a forgettable clone until the next AC/DC album is released.
Protest the Hero- Fortress
Much like Protest the Hero’s 2005’s debut, Fortress is a unique and creative album that is sure to be hated by many metalheads. Mixing elements from punk rock, metalcore, and progressive metal, Fortress is not a typical album by any means, and it’s one that takes multiple listens to understand. Protest the Hero attempts more here than on their debut, which was rather ambitious in its own right, and deserves praise purely from that perspective. Not everything Protest the Hero attempts works, but part of the album's greatness is that it sounds like an ambitious mess as a whole. The lyrics of the album can be dissected and interpreted in a number of different ways, which is something that is rarely found in metalcore. The vocals take a bit of getting used to, and there will be many who won’t be able to take more than 30 seconds of Rody Walker’s high pitched screaming, but those who can get past the vocals and breakdowns will find an intelligent and creative album that attempts far more than most. Fortress certainly lacks focus, but it probably wouldn’t be as exciting of an album if it wasn’t fueled by raw energy and ambition. One of the album’s biggest strengths is the energy that the band has put into their sophomore release, and that pure adrenalin more than makes up for the many flaws that come with the album’s unfocused ambition. Because that ambition allows a number of different sounds and styles to be experimented with throughout the album, there are many times when Fortress is not nearly as developed as it could have been. There are moments where it sounds like each member is trying to go in a different direction, while other times where the album appears to have no rational direction to speak of. Most of the time, however, Fortress is a unique and creative album that is interesting and engaging throughout.
As always, thanks for reading! Full reviews of the new Ayreon, Avantasia, and Jack Johnson albums will be up soon.