AC/DC – POWER UP – 13/11/2020
The anticipation for the new AC/DC album Power Up has been palpable, with their name and #PWRUP plastered across iconic landmarks around the world. From their instantly recognisable lightening bolt flashing across social media, to the giant red lit AC/DC sign in London; the excitement has been something else.
For the past few weeks we have seen little teasers, snippets of what’s to come, inevitably turning out to be new single entitled Shot In The Dark. The single a gentle reminder of that AC/DC sound the fans know and love. Often criticised for sticking to their signature sound, it’s safe to say the band’s stubbornness has got them where they are today; one of the greatest rock bands to walk these lands. Maybe the greatest if you look at their outstanding success with album Back and Black, which still sits as the best ever selling album by a band. No one does it like AC/DC, and with 200 million albums sold worldwide and counting, why the fuck would you change that sort of perfection.
Back with a familiar line up of Angus Young (lead guitar), Brian Johnson (lead vocals), Cliff Williams (bass guitar) and Phil Rudd (drums), it was only the sadly passed Malcolm Young that was not present. However, in his place was nephew Stevie Young to make sure his memory could live on in an album dedicated to Malcolm himself. And, although Malcolm may not be with the band in person, the fact that this album is a product of old workings from the Young brothers will leave fans with a warm heart.
Kicking off the band’s seventeenth studio album is opener and second single ‘Realize’. From the first ring of some fierce opening chords and the echoing vocals of Brian Johnson raising the hairs on the back of your neck, the Rock and Roll Hall of Famers get straight to the point in establishing their authority over good old fashion hard powerful rock music. Johnson instantly reminds us that his voice is still as golden as remembered, returning as if any hearing issues he once had were now a distant memory. Using a term the Geordie singer might be familiar with, ‘Realize’ is a belter of an opener; hard-hitting, guitar-blasting, this tune will surely raise hopes of a live tour.
Next up is ‘Rejection’ and single ‘Shot In The Dark’, two tracks that ooze the classic AC/DC groove. ‘Rejection’ delivers some outstanding vocal lines whilst ‘Shot In The Dark’ smacks out one of the most badass riffs on the record making us all “feel alright”. Three tracks in and its feeling like muscle memory as these tunes would sit proudly amongst the AC/DC back catalogue.
‘Through The Mist Of Time’ follows with a surprisingly gentler side to the Aussie rockers as Johnson sings the lines ‘“See dark shadows on the walls, see the pictures, some hang, some fall”, in what feels like a look back at the good and hard times of their rock ‘n’ roll journey.
But the party continues, with the entrance of ‘Kick You When You’re Down’ which is another tune that must be tempting the set list, as it kicks out another riff any SG Gibson owner would dream of shredding. Definitely one of catchier tracks of the album. We’re then introduced to ‘Witch’s Spell’ which has hints of late 80s AC/DC about it, for those that are familiar with ‘Who Made Who’ and for those die-hards ‘Twos Up”.
Fasten your seatbelts for ‘Demon Fire’, which boasts an epic guitar lick that sounds as if it is taken straight out of the fiery pits of hell. Complimented with Johnson’s low croon tones and gravelly high notes, this again could get a crowd bouncing.
One of the coolest tracks on the album has to be ‘Wild Reputation’ as you see Johnson portray a no-nonsense bad-ass, again whipping out some low and bassy vocals. With its running bass line and grooving guitar riff, this is one to strut down the street listening to.
Following are two more solid tracks ‘No Man’s Land’ and ‘Systems Down’, the latter having a thumping chorus as they bellow out ‘systems are going down’ and the prior consisting of a head bobbing, hard rocking, guitar sliding lick throughout that any guitar picking son of bitch would want to learn.
For anyone worried about AC/DC maturing lyrically in their old age, don’t be, as the penultimate track ‘Money Shot’ treats us with a graceful innuendo of “Doctor, what’s the antidote? Lady, just try the money shot… Best taken when hot”. This gem also features an Angus face melter of a solo.
‘Code Red’ delivers a strong finale to yet another AC/DC masterstroke. Could we see the canons used on “Fire one, Fire two, Code Red”? We’ll have to wait and see. One thing is for sure, after a listen to Power Up you’ll be raising your glass and this time it is not for AC/DC to salute you but for you to salute them.
An emotional return that I’m sure Malcolm would be proud of, these twelve new tracks will leave your hearts full and ears ringing yet wanting so much more. Quoting the #PWRUP strap line ‘Are you ready?’… well let’s hope you are, as this is yet another masterpiece!
AC/DC WE SALUTE YOU!