AC/DC Strikes Back With Electrifying ‘Ice’
In 1980, the revolutionary album “Back in Black” was released, packed with sharp, staccato riffs and punkish screams. Now, 28 years later, that infectious sound has returned. AC/DC has rolled back the years, and once again brought out the schoolboy outfit to create “Black Ice,” which can be considered as the sequel to Back in Black. And think of the perfect timing — with Metallica and Kings of Leon albums selling by the thousands, it would seem that the music scene has slightly shifted to an age of harder rock.
Of AC/DC’s 200 million album sales, 42 million alone came from “Back in Black.” But after the mid ’80s the band began to lose momentum and potency. Its last two albums, “Ballbreaker” (1995) and “Stiff Upper Lip” (2000), failed to stand out, and remained in the shadow of “Back in Black.”
With the exception of a couple of cuts midway through, every song on “Black Ice” is filled with power chords that ripple up and down your spine, and drum beats that are guaranteed to shake you all night long. Producer Brendan O’Brien is credited for wisely disputing any notion of updating or modernizing the AC/DC sound, and he instead simply captured the band in its truest form. Just as Mutt Lange did on the classics “Highway to Hell” and “Back in Black,” O’Brien allows AC/DC’s wall of sound to build and crash around you.
The first single, “Rock ‘N’ Roll Train,” is an amazing opener, with brothers Angus and Malcolm Young constantly producing riff after riff. Instantly, you can recognize what this band is. And what seems like a music miracle, front man Brian Johnson’s vocal chords have patched themselves up to deliver some of his best vocal performances since the 1980s.
In “Big Jack,” Angus pulls off some astonishing top-string riffing underneath the chorus. The song is filled with power chords that stumble on top of one another and lands in all the right places. Rather than starting with a traditional opening riff, “Anything Goes” ruptures and wastes no time getting started as Angus lets loose with some powerful top-string thrills before launching off to another bracing solo. Definitely a winner all the way, “War Machine” is a hard and fast affair that has similar chord progressions to “Givin’ the Dog a Bone” on “Back in Black.”
Similarly, “Spoilin for a Fight” begins with an excellent, rocking guitar riff while Brian Johnson snarls and screams throughout the entire song, as if he is about to inflict physical pain on someone.
The final song on the album is none other than the title track, “Black Ice.” But what sets this song apart from all the others on the album is Phil Rudd, who is finally allowed to explode on the drums and once again reminds the audience why AC/DC is one of the rock ‘n’ roll bands of our time.
Considering past albums, “Black Ice” could have been a horrible disaster. However, much to its credit, AC/DC remains true to its core sound, resulting in an electrifying album. It just goes to show that despite their ages, Angus Young and the rest of the members of AC/DC still know how to rock.