New AC/DC Album Out! Read Our Track-By-Track Review
Finally! AC/DC’s new album “Power Up!” is out now! This is AC/DC's first item since "Rock Or Bust" (2014) and comes after a period where it seemed like the group's future was in doubt. "Rock or Bust" arrived with the news that Malcolm Young was forced into retirement due to some health problems he suffered in recent years, including lung cancer, heart problems, a stroke and dementia. His nephew Stevie Young played the rhythm guitar on the record. Malcolm Young unfortunately passed away on November 2017.
AC/DC has described the new album as an extension of Malcolm Young’s creative vision, and AC/DC’s legendary stylistic consistency is on display across these 12 tracks. As always, the riffs are crunchy and vocals are screeching over stomping midtempo grooves. In interviews, Johnson has explicitly framed the album as a pandemic-age pick-me-up, telling England’s NME that in a year as “desperate” as 2020, he hopes “Power Up” inspires kids to go buy guitars “instead of looking at dancers on TikTok.” His disappointing incuriosity aside, you can understand his ambition. So while you listen to the album, close your eyes and imagine yourself in a festival that AC/DC is headlining. Live the moment and hear the harmony. Bon apetite!
Brian Johnson: Lead Vocals
Angus Young: Lead Guitars
Stevie Young: Rhythm Guitars
Phil Rudd: Drums
Cliff Williams: Bass Guitars
1. Realize (3:37):
As with first single “Shot In The Dark,” “Realize” proves that the tough times the band went through, such as Malcolm’s death and Brian’s health issues, are not excuses to stop rocking the world.
“Realize,” like every song on “Power Up”, is credited to Angus and his late brother, AC/DC rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young, who died in 2017. “Realize,” which opens the album, has a pretty scratchy riff to go with Johnson’s beyond-average growl, and it’s a total masterpiece, in fact.
2. Rejection (4:06):
The second track of the album starts with a classic Angus Young riff, followed by harsh Brian Johnson vocals in between. In the chorus, the guitar riff remains the same but the vocals and the drums start to play heavier. It sure is a catchy chorus. The lyrics are straightforward. They’re basically telling that “If you reject me, I’ll come for you.”. So it emphasizes the strong commitment of the narrator to his desires. The song does not have a clear guitar solo. At the last chorus, guitar plays some tasty licks in between the vocal lines.
3. Shot In The Dark (3:06):
“Shot In The Dark” was the first song to be released in the album. It’s AC/DC. It is what it is and does what it does, and it’s pretty simple. All you need is a drumbeat, a catchy guitar riff, and a cool singer. “Shot in the Dark” has all that. It features an iconic AC/DC riff, casual intro that introduces the rest of the band, who immediately jump into a rock-solid groove. There's Cliff Williams, keeping it so-so-simple and holding down the bottom end the way that only Cliff Williams can. And then – perhaps most of all – there's Phil Rudd. With his flawless technique to hold the metronome straight forward and pump the audience. He perfectly gave us the kick drums in our heartbeets...
4. Through The Mists Of Time (3:32):
The track, as unusually for the case of AC/DC, starts with a progressive odd-time riff and a complex drumbeat. This is the kind of intro we are not familliar with, coming from AC/DC. Then, when Brian starts singing, the odd time alters to 4/4 and becomes more of a classic awesome AC/DC riff. The chorus’ are pretty melodic and entangling. The guitar solo is a classic, breath-taking Angus Young solo. The song might be our favorite so far.
5. Kick You When You’re Down (3:10):
The title of the song takes the listener’s attention from the beginning. It’s actually an idiom that means to upset one more while he/she is already in a difficult situation, and the song clearly implies this! The intro riff of the song is pretty similar to the “Witch’s Spell” , the next song of the album. It starts with some iconic gang-vocals and then suddenly a cool tom-kick drum-beat. It’s a similar verse with the verse of the old iconic “Highway To Hell”. Then, there comes a bluesy cool riff simultaneously with the vocal line. Then here comes the chorus with the breathtaking signature gang vocals we are familiar from AC/DC.
Then the blues-pentatonic guitar solo... Again, an georgeous guitar solo by the maestro sir Angus Young! We definitely recommend this song for you!
6. Witch’s Spell (3:42):
This is a song that might be one of their classics in the future, in our opinion. The song starts with a simple drum rhythm, simultaneously played with a finger-pick style guitar riff that continues the same chord progression and a sick bassline. In the verses when Brian comes in, the guitar decreases its frequency and lets the vocal line speak up, while the drum beat remains the same. The verse is followed by a melodic chorus with a more complex riff and agressive drums. It makes the listener recall the iconic track “Highway to Hell”. Then the guitar solo comes on top of the same rhythym line of the verses. It’s a cool and minimalistic solo. The vocal continues singing during the solo. The song finishes with the intro riff.
7. Demon Fire (3:30):
The song starts with a catchy, cool sounding, major key classic Angus Young riff, and then followed by some agressive vocals by Brian Johnson, which is followed by the catchy chorus. This song seems like a technically basic one to play with an instrument. Not a complex one as the structure, but it sure is a perfect song to get hooked in your mouth!
8. Wild Reputation (2:54):
The 8th track "Wild Reputation" plays around with rhythmical elements between the guitar riff and the drums intro, where the beat enters on the off-beat of the guitar action. The song is build-on to probably the most creative riff of the album, which played in snatches and enhances the groovy feeling of the song. It was also impressive to see how Brian Johnson got through all these songs after all those years and recent hearing incidents.
9. No Man’s Land (3:39):
“No Man's Land”, the song that hopes to show you your weak side and wants you to embrace it and carry on. AC/DC has always been strong on inoculating people with positive emotions, but this time (if you take a look at the lyrics) this positivity comes from somewhere that is much more intense and deep. The slow-burn but energic song with the nostalgic Angus Young solo resembles this idea, creating the ultimate AC/DC track that takes advantage of good guitar and vocal productions.
10. Systems Down (3:12):
The 10th song of the album has a mysterious intro that starts with a guitar fade-in (kind of) and a sick drum groove followed by a dashy guitar riff. Then the vocal line comes in. Dashy as the guitar riff. The consistency between the guitar riff and the vocal line is breathtaking! The chorus is pretty pumping and is very suitable for a sing-along. Lyrically it’s kind of a revolutionary song as understood in the lines "We got a chain reaction / It needs immediate action / This furnace is about to blast…”.
11. Money Shot (3:05):
The song starts with a riff and up-tempo chord progression which is a classic for AC/DC. The different panning of the two guitars opens up another dimension to the song. It continues with the powerful and high-pitched vocals of Brian Johnson. After a series of vocals, a tasteful, blues-like Angus Young solo comes in and takes the song to another level. It is possible to say that there are some similarities in rhythm and progression with AC/DC’s past record “Highway to Hell”. The song mostly continues over the same set of lyrics: “Doctor, what’s the antidote? Lady, try the money shot” and it is a typical AC/DC sound, check it out.
12. Code Red (3:31):
The 12th and the last track of the album starts slower compared to the previous track in the album. The song mostly shapes out of a repeated guitar riff and vocals. There is a “Code Red” as it is also the title of the song, and the lyrics continue with the description of it. As a typical AC/DC song, the aggressive high-pitched vocals and the open chord progression runs through a distorted guitar tone, it engages the audience and makes the listener feel energetic. The song and the album concludes with another solo by Angus Young. This album has a similar style and sound with the prior ones and if you love the sound of AC/DC, we definitely suggest you to check it out.