AC/DC - 2008 Black Ice

ALBUM: Black Ice
LABEL: Columbia
SERIAL: 88697 38378 2
YEAR: 2008


LINEUP: Brian Johnson - lead vocals * Angus Young - lead guitar * Malcolm Young - rhythm guitar, backing vocals * Cliff Williams - bass, backing vocals * Phil Rudd - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Rock N Roll Train * 02 Skies On Fire * 03 Big Jack * 04 Anything Goes * 05 War Machine * 06 Smash N Grab * 07 Spoilin' For A Fight * 08 Wheels * 09 Decibel * 10 Stormy May Day * 11 She Likes Rock N Roll * 12 Money Made * 13 Rock N Roll Dream * 14 Rocking All The Way * 15 Black Ice



Eight years between albums is an eternity, but if there is one band who can get away with it then it is certainly AC/DC, who at this point of their career are entitled to do anything they please. Still I was a young man of 23 when 'Stiff Upper Lip' was released.. Regardless the band have made up for this lengthy span with 15 new tracks, the most of any album in their 35 plus years. Given the long wait I couldn't help but wonder if the band might recreate the steaming boogie of the Bon Scott years, the hard rock muscle of 'Flick Of The Switch' or even the good time rock and roll of 'Blow Up Your Video'. On those counts the answer is 'no, vaguely and yes'. You have to take what you can get from the legends and while not their best by a longshot, 'Black Ice' is everything fans have come to expect from the band, which is all they wanted in the first place.

The Songs

'Rock n' Roll Train' is the opener and was the predictable lead single off the album, with it's 'Back In Black' era riffs and a trademark big hook, but somehow not as addictive as 'Hard As A Rock' or 'Stiff Upper Lip', the first singles off the last two albums eons ago. 'Skies On Fire' sets the tone for a majority of the album, plodding blues at an often excruciating pace, this track itself reminiscent of the 'Stiff Upper Lip' album. 'Big Jack' is my pick as the track of the album, a hard rocking cut about notorious Jack 'who's really got the knack' and 'always has your back'. The riffs are at their most solid here and its the most explosive track by a mile, AC/DC at their best. 'Anything Goes' toys with a style of riff I've never heard from the band, and it's all rather uneventful overall. 'War Machine' is an ominous rocker and a clear live choice one would imagine, heavy as you like, with Angus on top form. 'Smash n' Grab' doesn't live up to the title, rather laboured sadly with the heaviness toned way down. 'Spoilin' For A Fight' recalls the 'Ballbreaker' era, with a glorious hook well over the top. The opening riff of 'Wheels' is 'Giving The Dog A Bone' all over again and probably took the band five minutes to conjure up, even sounding like 1981 all over!

The opening riff of 'Decibel' is lovably cornball and this has shades of the 'Fly On The Wall' sound, only less raw, but Johnson's vocal delivery is so sleazy you'll be laughing out loud as he sings about 'standing proud' for the 50th time! That let's you know he wrote the lyrics this time around. For a minute during the opening bars of 'Stormy May Day' I thought AC/DC were covering Led Zeppelin's 'Nobody's Fault But Mine', with a rarely heard slide guitar riff dominating another sluggishly paced track. There's a bass riff during 'She Likes Rock N' Roll' that you might not believe once heard and this is is vintage stuff, especially when Johnson sings about 'making the grade' and the band chants the chorus. Things get even more ludicrous with the chorus of 'Money Made', sung like a football anthem, with Johnson using the lyric 'making the grade' for the second consecutive track! This is genius. Taking a radical turn is 'Rock and Roll Dream' where Johnson sounds a bit like David Coverdale during the opening minute, which is sedate by AC/DC standards. It kicks in eventually, but is a change of pace for the band with it's stop and start structure. 'Rocking All The Way' offers more traditional melodies and guitar work, by the numbers, but the title track is a heavy duty rocker, ending the album nicely, with some interesting chord changes and an explosive Angus solo.

In Summary

A good effort from the lads, maybe a few tracks too many but at least they are trying to repay the long suffering fans with just 4 studio albums since 1988! Call me foolish but I wouldn't mind hearing the band speed things up from time to time, sadly at no point during the entire album is there anything resembling a fast rhythm, its either mid paced or grindingly slow. But the riffs are there, the brilliant lyrics also and a sense of fun. It's AC/DC as you've always known them for the most part, without ever tearing your face off. Hopefully it won't be 8 years until the next album. We might all be gone by then.
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dangerzone October 08 2008 2385 reads 8 comments Print


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  • jeffduran
    Yep...Predictable but enjoying a few of these....As much as I spout off about 'Flick of the Switch' and 'Powerage', AC/DC rarely disapoint.
    Reply · · - October 08 2008 02:01:24
  • sabace
    I've heard a few of the tracks and they could have come off any lp after 'Back In Black'!
    Reply · · - October 11 2008 16:36:06
    taken a few listens for it all to click but really enjoying this rare outing from the lads!
    Reply · · - October 13 2008 19:30:47
  • jeffrey343
    I'm not the biggest AC/DC fan out there, but I do like most of their stuff just fine. I must say that this is definitely a nice CD that doesn't stray from what they do best. It may not reach some of the highs of what they've done before, but all the songs are quite good. I like the production too - lots of hi-hat, and I've always liked how many of their songs start with one guitar, then add the other, then finally the bass. It is good to see the older bands still put out good stuff in this day and age.
    Reply · · - November 04 2008 17:23:19
  • Hardlover
    This album has no energy and pales in comparison to the previous ones. I think that many AC/DC followers (Airbourne, Bullet) now play way better.
    Reply · · - January 20 2009 15:11:55
  • jeffduran
    I disagree hardlover...The last release 'Stiff upper Lip' is quite inferior in songs and energy.
    Reply · · - January 21 2009 08:17:42
  • dangerzone
    I think the only weak album AC/DC have ever produced is 'For Those About To Rock'. Aside from that they're all good!
    Reply · · - January 22 2009 00:50:00
  • Hardlover
    I think that "The Razor's Edge" was the last REALLY good album of this stuff. "Black Ice" is amazingly boring for me.
    Reply · · - January 26 2009 13:40:21


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