November 13th, a Friday in 2020. A Friday 13th…in 2020! It could’ve gone wrong, very wrong indeed. Instead, we were all treated to a colossal saving grace with the release of new album ‘POWER UP’ by one of the biggest Rock bands of all time, ‘Acca Dacca’ to the Aussie originators, ‘AC/DC’ to you and I. For a band that’ll be celebrating their 50th birthday in 2023, you’d think one of the pioneers of Hard Rock would have run out of fresh ideas and creativity by now. Surely? Well the truth is they have. They did a long time ago. But they are ‘AC/DC’ and they can literally do whatever the f*** they want. And I mean LITERALLY! Allow me to explain later.
The follow up to 2014 release ‘Rock or Bust’ is exactly what you’d expect from these Rock giants. Memorable guitar riffs, awesome driven bass lines, more eight beats than a Michael Jackson tribute act performing ‘Billie Jean’ and high-pitched screeching vocals. Speaking of which. Long standing vocalist Brian Johnson finally returns to bring his signature vocal style back after his controversial departure a few years ago when he was unexpectedly replaced by ‘Guns n Roses’ “vocalist“, (I use that term loosely), Axl Rose. Thank Lemmy that ended. It sounded like a match made in Rock ‘n’ Roll Heaven on paper but it didn’t work, at all. No need to fix what ain’t broken.
Animosity aside it seems, the boys have humbly welcomed Brian Johnson back and opening track ‘Realize’, which will also be the bands second single from the album, utilises the core strength and uniqueness he truly has. It’s a great reminder that the Geordie man still remains as one of the finest Rock vocalists out there, perhaps of all time. Drummer Phil Rudd and bassist Cliff Williams also return to complete the almost classic ‘AC/DC’ lineup with original founding member, guitar virtuoso and legend Angus Young whom still has the ability to melt your face like that scene from ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’. If you know, you know. The unfortunate death of founding member and rhythm guitarist Malcom Young in 2017 has lead to nephew Stevie Young completing the lineup as he wields his Uncles axe. What a way to keep it in the family.
With this now being the full lineup and with producer Brendan O’Brien being at the desk again, what does ‘POWER UP’ actually sound like? Well, like every other ‘AC/DC’ record of course. Now to reiterate myself, allow me to explain. Very few bands in this history of music have stumbled upon a formula that is pure strategical perfection. So perfect in fact that if they were to ever change or alter said formula, it would throw the ballsy, dirty, bluesy and somewhat sexy sound completely out of balance along with an army of devoted Rock and Metal fans. The status quo must remain. Music is an ever evolving entity where thousands of bands and artists feel they need to change their sound to keep with the current times and stay relevant. ‘AC/DC’ are an exception to change and it works every time. Again, NO NEED TO FIX WHAT AIN’T BROKEN!
The latter half of the album is better than the first half with songs like ‘Wild Reputation’, ‘Systems Down’ and ‘Demons Fire’ which I maintain as the stand out track on this record due to its glorious throwback. It’s a classic Malcom influenced guitar riff that resembles the early Bon Scott era. It holds up with some of their best written riffs such as ‘Whole Lotta Rosie’, ‘Riff Raff’ or ‘Let There Be Rock’. It’s certainly the dirtiest and for me the best song on this repetitive yet highly enjoyable album .
‘POWER UP’ marks 17 studio albums of the same sound and song-writing format and it’s guaranteed to sell millions. Genius. It’s impossible to get bored of ‘AC/DC’ and once again they revitalise themselves whilst proving that they are one of the most important artists in music history and are still as relevant as ever.