AC/DC: Black Ice
There’s something so starkly prehistoric about AC/DC’s sound, it makes me want to defile every argument made on the basis of that old fart Darwin, and his theories of evolution. Who gives a flying fuck about emo/screamo/new age or any other excuse that passes for music today, when you can have the savagery of Malcolm and Angus Young running into you like a freight train straight out of hell.
Oh well, AC/DC is back, in black, on a highway to high hell. And if you’re about to ring hell’s bells, hoping to be thunderstruck from down under, I’d say you do it with all you’ve got! AC/DC’s back-to-basics approach, a la the Ramones, helps these gods to keep their feet on the ground and, even after eight years of dormant dwelling, return with a crunching record.
‘Black Ice’ is everything that a crash course in Rock 101 should be for Generation Y. The songwriting on this album is supreme, reminiscent of ‘The Razor’s Edge’, and an era beyond. And even though not every track on the album is great single material, a lot of it pushes the envelope to the line, and far across it.
The brothers Young play the guitar heroes that they are, slashing and jousting with guitar riffs like the pros they are on “Rock ‘n’ Roll Train”, while the heavy funk on “She Likes Rock ‘n’ Roll” shows you why Cliff Williams is so integral and so important to AC/DC’s now-restrained, now-hell-for-leather sound. For me, the craziest track on the album is “Big Jack”, an instant throwback to ‘Back In Black’.
AC/DC show you how they’ve evolved just that little bit to make Charles and the HMS Beagle happy with their songwriting. The traditional salute to the apocalyptic message is high on “Skies on Fire”, “Stormy May Day”, and “Black Ice”.
The best bit about this album is that it sees Brian Johnson returning to his peak. With Bon Scott’s shriek now dead and gone, producer Brendan O’Brien brings the best out of Johnson again, using his baritone and his peaks well.
All in all, AC/DC are still at it, just like hounds fighting over a piece of meat that someone said was there for grabs. And rock immortality just happened to come to them somewhere along the way. Fighters to the end, ‘Black Ice’ weighs in and hits hardest where it hurts. For those about to rock, we salute you.