About a month ago I picked up the new AC/DC album Black Ice from Wal Mart and have spent some time listening to it. There has been a lot of hype leading up to Ice, there's been rumors for a few years that a new album was coming. Then there was a lot of talk about this being their swan song, one last blast with an album and tour followed by retirement. Of course, the exclusive distribution courtesy of Wal Mart was the next subject. Meanwhile, band's came out of the woodwork to emulate the Aussie rocker's trademark sound-particularly Airbourne. Sometimes I hear Airbourne and I think it's AC/DC until the chorus hits and I realize I don't remember the tune that well. That's not necessarily a knock on Airbourne, they do the AC/DC well and acted as a herald for hard rocker's true comeback.
I debated on covering this disc just because I wasn't sure if there was a point. Every AC/DC album sounds the same as the last, more or less. At this point in their career, you either like what they do or you don't. It's not about originality here, it's about execution. Do the songs fire you up and stick in your head like dark beer or leave you flat? Well, I'll get to that in a moment.
That was nine years ago, almost a decade ago. After my birthday, I went out and picked up Black Ice for a long awaited listen. My impressions? It's still AC/DC. Screechy raspy vocals, throbbing bass, rock steady snare drum and vicious guitar assault. The execution of their classic formula is fairly strong, the performance doesn't lag or show any age. About half of the songs are memorable, particularly the thunderous Big Jack, the slick Wheels or the WWE hyped Spoilin' For A Fight. There's more variety in the grooves than the prior disc Stiff Upper Lip, songs move at different speeds and are aided by focusing on stronger choruses. My only criticism is that to me AC/DC is at their best with just the ten best songs on each album, the quality of their songwriting seems to suffer past that point.
Black Ice is a good dose of brutal, sleazy Hard Rock served up as only AC/DC truly can. It overstays its welcome a little, but by the end of the disc I was ready to start over at track 1 again. It's not the best AC/DC album, I'd rank it in the top half or so in their storied career. AC/DC preaches to the converted here and when they're on they make a good case for rock and roll salvation.