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Album Reviews : AC/DC – Black Ice

By on January 31, 2009

In 2008, for the first time in the greater part of a decade, there was a rumbling from the camp of Australian Legends and all round gods of rock, AC/DC. That rumbling was the release of new album ‘Black Ice’ and huge subsequent tour which has been stampeding the world ever since (Australian dates yet to come at time of writing).

One knows what they are getting with an AC/DC album. They are going to get a set of songs guided by chugging riffs supplied by the brothers Young, they are going to get drum lines that could probably be replicated by a beginner and they are going to get lyrics about sex, drinking, sex and upholding ones goblet to the power that is rock! Still this lack of variety is what has made AC/DC so much fun over the years. You know you are going to get a set of songs that you can rock out to without much thought (no concepts about 12th century prophets here) and that, while intoxicated, will turn anyone into a portable jukebox.

‘Black Ice’ has stuck to the tried and true AC/DC formula and the end result is another pretty good AC/DC album. It’s nothing great, nothing particularly memorable but certainly not a throwaway album. Songs like the single and album opener ‘Rock ‘N Roll Train’ really hold up with any of the bands best work and cites a return to the old style background vocals provided by Angus and Malcolm that really add to the sing-along value of AC/DC.

The album continues with some pretty cool songs with ‘Skies on Fire’, ‘Anything Goes’ and the surprisingly heavy ‘Big Jack’. After these tracks though the album does really fall down hill and the songs just blend together. Aside from the odd change in vocal style on songs like ‘Decibel’ there really isn’t anything worth mentioning on these songs as there is basically zero alteration on any of them.

Then out of nowhere buried down at track 11 comes my personal highlight of the album in ‘She Likes Rock ‘N Roll’. ‘She Likes Rock ‘N Roll’ has a really funky edge to it mainly due to a really cool bass line supplied by the often left forgotten Cliff Williams. This song really goes along nicely including a really cool sing along segment towards the end of the song. It also includes some really tasteful guitar fills provided by Angus that stop the song from suffering the bite of the repetitive bug.

Following ‘She Likes Rock N Roll’ are three really cool songs (and one filler in ‘Rocking All the Way’) that really make one wonder about their position so far down the track listing. The song ‘Rock ‘N Roll Dream’ provides the most interesting drumming of the album and even includes (shock horror) some interesting fills.
‘Black Ice’ finishes with a track of the same name and it really is a nice way to finish the album. It features the coolest riff of the whole album and closes it off nicely. Again this song would have been much more appreciated if it hadn’t followed a huge middle section of filler.

Overall ‘Black Ice’ is a more then passable album and really should wet any fans appetite to witness the band in their forte, the live show. Still this album does suffer unnecessarily. Just like Metallica’s ‘Death Magnetic’, ‘Black Ice’ would have been greatly benefited by cutting off a good 15-20 minutes worth of useless filler material. Overall had this album been 40 minutes rather than 55 it would have got a much larger score. That being said this album still has its moments and while it won’t be mentioned in the same sentence as ‘Back in Black’ or ‘T.N.T’, the fact is this album has sold more units than any other rock band this year, so they must be doing something right. ‘Black Ice’ is an album that you can chuck on, throw down a few brews to and watch in great enjoyment as your mate Barry or Davo air guitars around the room in an amusing fashion. After all that’s what AC/DC is all about.

35 years and still going strong, AC/DC we salute you!

Band: AC/DC
Album: Black Ice
Year: 2008
Genre: Rock
Label: Sony BMG
Origin: Australia

1. Rock ‘n’ Roll Train
2. Skies on Fire
3. Big Jack
4. Anything Goes
5. War Machine
6. Smash ‘n’ Grab
7. Spoilin’ for a Fight
8. Wheels
9. Decibel
10. Stormy May Day
11. She Likes Rock ‘n’ Roll <———– Reviewers Pick
12. Money Made
13. Rock ‘n’ Roll Dream
14. Rocking All the Way
15. Black Ice

Review by Elliot Coombe