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Friday 30 September 2016

Reviews: Airbourne, Brujeria, Gong (Reviews By Paul)

Airbourne: Breakin' Outta Hell (Spinefarm)

“If it ain't broke, don't fix it”. To be honest, I could end this review there. The fourth album from Aussie hard rockers Airbourne follows exactly the same pattern as their previous three. Let's see, themes of drinking, partying, drinking, sex, drinking and rock ‘n’ roll. Yep, all present and correct. High speed rock ideal for breaking the motorway limits. With tracks such as When I Drink I Go Crazy, It's Never Too Loud For Me and I'm Going To Hell For This, it isn't subtle and it never was going to be. Thin The Blood allows Joel O’Keefe to really let loose, whilst the homage to cunnilingus on Down On You, including the stunningly sensitive line “it's everything a woman needs” must have taken about five minutes in the pub with a Chubby Brown DVD. It's pretty basic near to the knuckle stuff that Bon Scott and co managed to do with so much more class back in the 1970s. If you like Airbourne then this one will tick the required boxes and it does add to the repertoire available at their next live show. Solid and well played, O’Keefe’s lead guitar remains impressive whilst the remaining members, brother Ryan, Rhythm guitarist David Roads and bassist Justin Street do exactly what is required. It's formulaic, repetitive but good fun. 7/10

Brujeria: Pocho Aztlan (Nuclear Blast)

Pocho Aztlan is the first album in 15 years from Brujeria, a death/thrash/groove/grindcore outfit formed by Fear Factory’s Dino Cazares way back in 1989. The current line up contains numerous known and not so well known faces but has included Napalm Death’s Shane Embury (since 1992) and El Cynico, Otherwise known as Carcass voice and bassist Jeff Walker. Full of anger, speed and groove and completely sung in Spanish, Pocho Aztlan follows the themes the band has become renowned for, immigration, narcotics, law and order and politics. With craziness compulsory, this is the album that The Muppets Animal would drum on. The vocals of Juan Brujo, Pinche Peach and Fatsoma interplay with superb effect, the Mexican slant essential. Gritty, uncomfortable yet compelling, Pocho Aztlan is a raging slab which is well worth a listen, if only to hear the chaos in Plata O Plomo, the blistering middle section of Satongo and the closing track, a cover of The Dead Kennedys California Uber Aztlan. 8/10

Gong: Rejoice! I'm Dead! (Snapper Music)

If you don't know about Gong then this album might be a bit of a belated introduction to a whole world of psychedelic space rock. Formed in Paris in 1967, Gong has been active in a variety of line ups, with founder Daevid Allen present until 1975 and then again from 1990 until his death in 2015. The band are probably best known for their 1973-4 trilogy Radio Gnome Invisible although with so many spin offs and side projects it's impossible to nail this perfectly. 

Allen apparently urged the band to continue after his death and although the line up bears no resemblance to that of the 1970s, Rejoice! I'm Dead! is a fitting tribute to Allen. Indeed, one might argue that this album, incredibly no.28 in the catalogue is as contemporary as they've ever been and a high quality exemplar of the genre. Unsurprisingly the album contains a number of lengthy meandering tracks, with Rejoice! In particular a fine ten minute noodle with some super guitar work from Fabio Golfetti, a stunning solo from one time member Steve Hillage and meandering saxophone courtesy of Ian East. Model Village and Beatrix feature posthumous vocals from Allen, his narrative adding a slightly surreal feel to two gentle tracks which allow Kavus Torabi to excel on main vocals. East’s saxophone soars perfectly whilst Didier Malherbe’s subtle contribution with the duduk adds feeling. Beatrix is slightly more disconcerting, with Allen’s eerie French being accompanied by a lone piano and then East’s mournful saxophone. 

The album contains two more lengthy tunes. The 12 minute Sojurn Of The Unspeakable Stands Revealed which gives you more than a clue as to some of Opeth’s current influences with waves of synths and keys supporting the soulful sax and flute of Ian East. Cheb Nettles smooth jazz style drumming underpins the whole track, allowing the psychedelic tones of Torabi, ably supported by Dave Sturt And Golfetti, to wash through the track. Album closer Insert Yr Own Prophecy dips in at just over nine and a half minutes and is a fantastic rocking tune with some wacky vocals and runaway saxophone. It's hard to really be objective about Gong and whether the purists would even class this as Gong is debatable. However, it is a quite addictive release, one which will demand repeated plays. 8/10

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