Sunday, February 8, 2009

Sunday CD Review - AC/DC: Black Ice

Eight years and many retirement/break up rumors after Stiff Upper Lip was released, AC/DC returns to the scene with their latest offering, Black Ice. Multiple years have passed between releases and a lot of fans and critics wondered if AC/DC could still deliver the goods, if the band still had merit, and if Black Ice would be worth the price of purchase.

Black Ice opens with the first single, Rock and Roll Train. This is fun-loving, hard-rocking, AC/DC. Angus’ guitar work is still stellar. Brian Johnson’s voice is still a gravel pit that we love to hear. The background rhythm section of Malcolm Young, Cliff Williams, and Phil Rudd, continue to provide the perfect backbeat for the band. This could be any number of songs that the band released in the 80s and 90s, and that’s not said like it’s a negative.

Skies On Fire follows the leadoff single and has a slower beat, but is no less powerful. This is a typical quarter-note beat AC/DC song singing about the sky being on…fire. The guitar riffs are simple, yet powerful, and it’s a song that the listener sings along with by the second time around.
Big Jack comes third, with some blistering, vintage guitar work from Angus. A foot stomping, fist pumping, crowd pleaser that must sound amazing in concert. Visions of Angus’ guitar boogie come to mind when hearing this arena rocker.

Anything Goes is one of the strangest songs (for AC/DC) ever done. Brian Johnson sings in a higher octave than he’s known for, the guitars are more hair metal than old school rock and roll, and while this is a fantastic song, it is decidedly different. It makes one wonder if someone else didn’t write it, as it is reminiscent of the late eighties, Sunset Strip scene, not the rock masters from down under. It would definitely be a great song to blast in rock clubs.

Money Made is one of the best songs on the disc and could be a distant cousin to Money Talks (from 1990s The Razors Edge). The theme is similar, money is the ruler and once you have it, it’s hard to part with it, and anything will be done to hang onto the money and the high life.

Smash N Grab is a nifty rocker that has the faint traces of Overdose (from 1977s Let There Be Rock). There is a similar riff and style, but with heavier lyrics and a different message. “Smash, grab, and take it while you can.” I’d like to think that the Young brothers wrote about taking life while you can. That’s the message that I see here. Smash, grab and take (control) over your life.

So, did they deliver the goods? Absolutely. Black Ice is the best work these Aussies have done since 1990. In the annals of AC/DC history, Black Ice is going to be up there with the best of them. In the Brian Johnson era AC/DC, there are only two records better – Back In Black (which can’t be topped) and The Razor’s Edge. This disc is bound to please any AC/DC fan there is and show the world that even in their fifties, these boys still got it.

Cousin Ryo’s Rating: 8.5 (Out of 10). A solid record worth the investment.

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