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AC/DC – Black Ice

Label: Sony BMG Music
Format: CD
Released: 2008
Reviewed By: Rich Catino

You gotta love, and really should admire, some of these aging 70s hard rockers and metalheads like Aerosmith, Scorpions, Kiss, Deep Purple, Judas Priest, Alice Cooper, and AC/DC who are thirty years into a career of making music by this point in 2008, can still tour and release new studio albums. That is of course as long as the quality of the music and performing is still good which thankfully is the case for all the above. And let’s not forget the amount of energy one expels playing an hour and a half of this type of music a night, and these guys are no young bucks.

 

“Black Ice” is the Australian’s sixteenth studio album (their debut “High Voltage” came out in 1975). From start to finish, AC/DC like on all their previous albums, have taken a very simple formula and re wrote it over and over again with a different title for the chorus. As a result, some albums all around are better than others, some just have better songs than others. Really what it all boils down to as always is two things…will the riffs and the drum beat get the foot taping and will there be a good hook for people to sing?

First single and video “Rock n Roll Train” shows Brian Johnson (vocals), Angus (lead guitar) and Malcolm Young (rhythm guitar), Cliff Williams (bass), and Phil Rudd (drums), doing what they do best….playing no frills guitar driven rock n roll with heart and energy. Nothing has changed in the world of AC/DC and really did you expect anything to? Imitation is the first sign that you have done something right and AC/DC’s template has been repeated many times over by countless others.

“Black Ice” does harness some of the swagger from the boys younger years, a dash of vibrancy no doubt built up from the eight year gap between 2000’s “Stiff Upper Lip” and “Ice”, and a touch of age found in the second half of the album.

With that, given the riffing and mid pace drum beat, a song like “Skies on Fire” brings me back to the album “Flick of the Switch” from 1983, one of their often neglected releases. “Anything Goes” has a very singable commerciality to the verses and melodic less edgy guitars. “War Machine” works well as it starts slow and builds momentum. “Big Jack’s” swinging rhythm hits like something from “Back and Black”, yet, the chorus’ backing vocals is all “Fly on the Wall” (the red headed step child album to many). “Money Made”, and the title track have a little kick in their step, “Stormy May Day” with its slide guitars, and “Decibel” are the standard slower bluesier arrangements in drum beat and riff delivery. “Stormy”, “Money Made” and “Decibel” are generic and kinda filler. I really prefer AC/DC keeping the energy electric and rhythm moving, ex; “Wheels” and “Spoilin’ for a Fight”.

“Black Ice” is, I think, a mix of “For Those About To Rock”/”Flick of the Switch” and more recent “Razor’s Edge”/”Stiff Upper Lip”. Its nothing fantastic, but one of their all around better albums.

 
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