Classic rock bands, as they are referred to, have a tendency to start putting out some pretty bad music later in their careers. It’s happened to quite a few over the past couple years. Most bands just don’t seem to have the same passion, energy, or drive as they did back when they were pumping out the tunes that paved the way for their success. So when I heard that AC/DC were putting out a new album this year, I was both excited and hesitant to listen to the new songs. It is AC/DC after all, so I had to give it a shot, though.
Rock or Bust is the title of this new batch of tunes from the hard rockers from down under, and I’ve seen many mixed reviews from the faithful fans thus far. Everyone should know by now that any album AC/DC puts out will be bare to the bones, guitar driven, blues based hard rock, and this one is no different. The guys don’t care what new styles are in or what’s popular in the rock ‘n’ roll world at the time, they stick to their sound and have always had great success. Rock or Bust is the follow up to the 2008 release Black Ice, which was a pretty good album for a band this late in their career. Even though the guys haven’t put out a great album since the ‘80s, they have been pretty consistently releasing good albums with at least a hand full of rockin’ songs off each one. This album was very different than the rest though, founding member and rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young has been forced out of the band after being diagnosed with dementia. Stepping in for the guitarist was Stevie Young, Malcolm and brother Angus’s nephew. The big question ended up being how would the rest of the guys hold up without their main songwriter?
Back in October the band released the first single, “Play Ball”, to help promote the World Series (as if it needed the help). This song was very disappointing. It was not good at all. I could hardly make it though one listen and was immediately terrified to listen to anymore of the album. They made up for that disaster in a big way after putting out the title track, “Rock or Bust”, a few weeks later though. This song is full of upbeat drums that will have your head banging and spacious, bluesy guitar riffs packed with catchy hooks. This is the type of song that will get fans of the group excited about the new album. The rest of the album follows that same setup with thunderous drumming, simple, yet great, guitar riffs and sexual innuendoes popping up in the lyrics . The loyal AC/DC fans will be happy with tunes like “Rock the Blues Away”, “Baptism by Fire”, “Emission Control”, “Sweet Candy”, and “Rock the House”, while tracks like “Dogs of War”, “Miss Adventure”, “ Hard Times” and “Got Some Rock & Roll Thunder” sound a little dull and disappointing compared to the others, but they’re still capable of keeping your foot tapping. I wouldn’t say this a bad album by any means, but it’s also not a great album. I guess you could say it’s a middle of the road effort from a band that is capable of producing better, but still managed to put out something most fans will enjoy and be able to rock out to.
After forty some years in the game, AC/DC prove that they can still write some pretty kickass tunes. They also help show that after being in the business for that long, like most other bands enjoying the same type of tenure, that it can start to take a toll on your songwriting. There is enough to like about the band’s latest album Rock or Bust to please most fans of hard rock still. It’s worth at least one listen, and you could come out loving it and say that my review was way off. There’s only one way to find out though.