The sudden [and controversal] ejection of vocalist Brian Johnson, the heartbreaking decline and passing of Malcolm Young, former drummer Phil Rudd’s legal woes playing out on mainstream media news for all to see, bassist Cliff Willimas retirement and then, there’s the lukewarm reception 2014’s ‘Rock or Bust‘ received. It all looked very grim indeed.
But amidst some of our generations most unprecedented turn of events from the global pandemic to the rotten core of superpower politics, a feel-good beacon of light is shining brightly through the haze of turmoil and depression.
That feel-good beacon is ‘Power Up‘.
What we have here is an album that doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel [In fairness, has any AC/DC album ever attempted that?]. So, before we continue, let us reiterate that you’ll not find any breakdowns, samples or diamonte-encrusted ballads that would have the likes of Elton John toe-tapping behind his candelabra on ‘Power Up‘.
This is truck-driving, beer-drinking unadulterated, Blues-driven, Hard Rock!
Not being the biggest fan of ‘Rock or Bust‘, I had concerns for ‘Power Up‘ and despite the issues in the band, all members from the last studio album are back for one more dance as well as Stevie Young [cousin of Angus], to fill Malcolm’s role as rhythm guitarist not forgetting producer Brendan O’Brien, who once again was drafted in to twiddle the nobs.
Opening up with ‘Realize‘ it’s apparent that Johnson hasn’t lost any of his iconic gravel tones and as the track unfolds, it fits in perfectly with just about every other AC/DC classic.
It’s also instantly apparent that O’Brien’s mix on this album far outdoes the distorted and somewhat fractured mix on ‘Rock…‘. The album offers a consistent tracklist that exhumes in glorious low-end key changes and mass sing-along chants, thanks to the likes of ‘Through the Mists of Time‘ which almost has a Tom Petty vibe [and is the most pop-oriented song on the album], to the up-tempo pulse of ‘Witches Spell’ and the ZZ Top fragrance on ‘Demon Fire‘.
There’s a warm and almost Southern Rock/Nazareth kind of vibe from album closer, ‘Code Red’ leaving the overall experience of ‘Power Up‘ as a positive one.
With 12 tracks of solid unmistaken classic AC/DC on offer here, ‘Power Up‘ is a safe, well-produced album that doesn’t’ take any chances, doesn’t’ wander outside the comfort zone, however, delivers exactly what it says on the tin. Fans of the bands’ classic albums will not be disappointed. 3.7/5
‘Power Up‘ is released via Columbia Records on Friday, November 13th.