Released on October 17, 2008 (Columbia)
Chart Position #1
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
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
Brian Johnson – vocals
Angus Young – lead guitar
Malcolm Young – rhythm guitar
Cliff Williams – bass
Phil Rudd – drums
Produced by Brendan O’Brien. Engineered and mixed by Mike Fraser.
AC/DC are my favorite band, so when I heard the first single from Black Ice, “Rock n Roll Train”, I was pretty excited. The song is just so signature AC/DC that my first thought was, yes, the boys are back! One thing I love about AC/DC (and what some people hate), is that they are instantly recognizable. Although they are my favorite band I will try my best to do an unbiased review. This has been a long anticipated release for AC/DC fans, so was it worth the 8 year wait?
One thing becomes obvious after the first listen to Black Ice, and that is how good Brian Johnson sounds. His voice isn’t so strained and shrill and he actually sings with more diversity than I’ve heard from him for a while.
After the now overplayed “Rock N Roll Train”, which I’m sure most of us are more than pleased with (it being so typical AC/DC), I was a little disappointed with “Skies On Fire”. This song falls flat and Brian sounds almost bored. Thankfully “Big Jack” sees the band back on the tracks, complete with the cheeky make-you-grin innuendo lyrics that we all know and love from AC/DC with the line “Santa ain’t the only one with a full sack” – although the lyric booklet says different, but that might be the fault of the Wal-Mart censors? “Big Jack” is classic AC/DC as is “Spoilin’ For A Fight” and both songs have anthem written all over them. The later has a great riff from Angus Young that runs throughout most of the song – nice work.
“Anything Goes” seems a bit out of place and I imagine fans will be divided on this one. It might be too commercial radio-friendly for hardcore headbangers, but it is so feel-good, foot-tapping and uplifting that it’s one of my favorites on Black Ice. The boys do try a few different things, as “Stormy May Day” sees Angus on slide guitar and “Rock N Roll Dream” slows down the pace a notch but has depth and again shows off how good Brian is sounding as he displays his vocal range.
There are too many good songs on Black Ice to go through them all individually and only a couple of numbers that I could do without. In my book “Wheels” and “Money Made”, although not weak enough to be called fillers, are fairly forgettable.
I was slightly let down by Stiff Upper Lip and Ballbreaker, and even though The Razors Edge was good enough, it was too polished production wise. On Black Ice producer Brendan O’Brien has given the CD a clear and clean sound, but it’s not overdone. Predictable? Yes, but it is AC/DC after all and you have to admit there is a certain genius in a band never changing its style which in turn doesn’t let the fans down. Not everyone wants surprises, like a power ballad as track two, and AC/DC doesn’t let you down. Despite a lot of bands being labeled copy-cat clones, they might borrow the formula, but when you hear the real deal it becomes clear that no one really comes close to doing AC/DC like AC/DC do.
This is uncomplicated, unpretentious, (sometimes) blues-tinged, good old rock n’ roll. It’s no Back In Black but it should keep most people satisfied. This is one happy Acca Dacca fan. The legends live on.
www.acdc.com – www.myspace.com/acdc
Reviewed by Tania for Sleaze Roxx, November 2008.