Black Ice review by AC/DC

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  • Released: Oct 20, 2008
  • Sound: 8
  • Lyrics: 9
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 8.7 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.5 (406 votes)
AC/DC: Black Ice

Sound — 8
It's been eight long years for AC/DC fans. Eight years of waiting, waiting for a new record from the aging rock'n'roll legends Angus Young, Malcolm Young, Cliff Williams, Phil Rudd, and Brian Johnson. With the recent leak of the record, I was not disappointed. The band sound like they're trying again, instead of playing safe with a blues record like "Stiff Upper Lip". Although there are some flat out duds like "Smash n Grab", and "Decibel", this album absolutely floors you upon first listen. 01. The album kicks off with the anthemic "Rock n Roll Train", which opens with a signature AC/DC riff, and after a flam on the snare by Phil Rudd, all hell breaks loose. Pure rock. Things quiet down for a bit and give way to the tangled chordal riff of the verse, and Brian comes in. Then we literally sling shot back into the chorus, which is gang vocals galore, reminding you of something from the "For Those About to Rock" era. The solo is a bit weaker than usual, but the one bad part of this album as a whole is that there are no notable solos... they all sound like pre-solo licks. Listen to "Rising Power" from "Flick of the Switch", and you'll know what I mean. Anyway, after the solo on Mr. Train, we head back into the chorus, then into a bridge section after another verse, with a few little licks dubbed over top. Another chorus rides this one out. Great tune. 02. Skies on Fire is another standout track, opening with a simple drum beat and giving way to a damn twisty little riff, with some awesome vocals here from Brian, who pulls some pretty high notes out of his ass on this one and nails the chorus. 03. Wow! Well Done! Big Jack is next up, and it's a great tune. It opens with a short jingle on the guitars, then the rest of the band comes in, mowing you over with a wall of sound. Johnson sounds great on this one as well. Some great top string riffing underneath the chorus. Good Stuff. 04. Anything Goes is pretty... different to say the absolute least. It is somewhat reminiscent of Geordie's "Geordie Stomp". I was prepared for this one after all the pop song comments made about it in some of the earlier reviews, but it really isn't that bad. A good song, but just one of the few tastes of variety that one will get on this album. Hopefully this one grows on me. 05. Now, War Machine. I'm sure you've heard it, as it was the second single. It opens with some tight tom work by Rudd, and a steady, throbbing bassline by Cliff Williams. A signature AC/DC chord progression rips right through it, gaining momentum, until we finally launch into the verse. Great tune, but there are better on the album. 06. Smash n Grab is a bit more modern sounding, featuring some pretty strong backing vocals from Malcolm Young and Williams. The chorus is arguably the best part of the song. "Smash... Grab and take it..ahhhahahahahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh." Yeah, I exaggerated a bit on that last part. 07. Spoilin' For A Fight is a bit different as well, sounds like something you'd hear from The Tragically Hip, minus the annoying vocals and everything. Some awesome bluesy licks from Angus throughout. 08. Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeellllllllsssss. This is one of the better songs on the album. We start off with some play between Ang and Mal, before Rudd comes in and we go a few bars without Mal, but he comes back in and we shoot into the chorus. Whheeeeellllllls. 09. Decibel is one of the fillers on the album. It sounds a lot like ZZ Top, just better and stuff. Not much notable about this one, a bluesy riff. The song should have been renamed "Jezebal" as pointed out in an earlier review of the album. 10. Stormy May Day is the best song on the album for me. It cuts itself away from usual AC/DC, and opens up with a few little arpeggios. Then, when you think you're listening to "This House is On Fire" #2, Angus delivers some great slide guitar which reminds you of Jimmy Page. The whole song has a Zep like feel to it, and the stomping chorus is no different. 11. We have another gem here in She Likes Rock n Roll. Opening with a riff somewhat reminiscent of "All Screwed Up" with a few nifty little bass fills popped in between. I was expecting more of an epic chorus, but the downright grooviness breaks up for it, with a DIFFERENT drum beat! Who would have thought?! 12. Next up is Money Made, another stroll into Led Zeppelin territory, a bass-driven boogie with an absolutely awesome verse. What a great song. I'm cranking this gem in the car. 13. Now, Rock n Roll Dream. This thing has been under a microscope, since the first reviews of the album back in mid-August. Why you ask? It's nearly a ballad! However, not a synth-laden sapfest like most would expect when they hear the word "ballad". It's pure rock. Don't freak out over this one, I really enjoyed it. It starts out a bit quieter, then explodes at the chorus "I could be in a rock n roll dream... " 14. Rocking All The Way starts with some blues of sorts, oh wait, the whole song is pure blues. Unlike the rest of the album. Reminds you of something that should have been in "Convoy". A very "trucker" song if you will. One to play on the road. some of the, if not the best solos on the album here. 15. The title track, while a great tune, is the most dissapointing song on the album for me. I was expecting something hard and heavy, with gang vocals and a blazing solo. Instead, we get a good blues tune. We start out with some finger picking by Angus, and the rest of the band come in a few measures after. It sounds a bit like "Meanstreak" from Blow Up Your Video. A few minor key changes here after the first chorus. An okay end to album. It makes you think it could have been more epic, because it could have. In terms of production, this album is ok. The drums and everything are way punchy and audible. Especially Cliff's bass. However, I don't like how O'Brien "thinned out" Brian's voice. But oh well, he's hitting his high notes without straining for the most part, so that makes up for it. Better solos could have made the album a great deal better, too.

Lyrics — 9
Now, the lyrics are just typical recent AC/DC, senseless gibberish with no relevance to anything, therefore, they're awesome. Brian's vocals here are arguably the best he's delivered since "Flick Of The Switch" way back in 1983. He seems more dynamic on this record, switching between registers and making good use of his naturally deep, gravelly voice. Great job here by Brian, and a (like usual) terrible but awesome job by Ang and Mal writing the lyrics.

Overall Impression — 9
This album is the most diverse they've ever done, and it will take a few listens to sink in for hardcore fans. However, it is arguably the best thing they've done since the 80's. Not much else to say other than that, it's a good collection of tunes. A good party album. There's songs for everybody on here. A great change of pace. Well done boys.

74 comments sorted by best / new / date

    got it yesterday - classic acdc. my favourite so far is stormy may day
    why oh why do people shit on possibly the greatest rock and roll band in history? yeah, the drummer uses the same 4/4 scale in every song, angus still uses just 3 chords, brian johnsons lyrics arent spectacular pieces of poetry...but for a band that has sold over 200 MILLION copies of there work, they can play the same music over and over again on every new cd they write...sometimes its not about change...way to many people expect drastic changes from bands and sometimes they dont need to...but granted, most people wanted them to stick to what they have been doing for 34 years and thats what they did and there gonna sell alot of copies of this cd too yeah they have more than 1 song title with rock in it but its not really a big deal, i laughed and thought it was funny january 5th ill be seeing them woo!!!
    tristan_deity wrote: LifesSweetDrug wrote: The greatest AC/DC album since back in black. Stormy May Day is a killer. what about razors edge? or are you just def
    BI destroys TRE.
    LifesSweetDrug wrote: The greatest AC/DC album since back in black. Stormy May Day is a killer.
    what about razors edge? or are you just def
    This album sounds empty and yuck, I listened to a friends copy for a few days and was really disappointed. It's AC-DC for sure, but it's lacking something and it sounds weak. It's like the opposite of the new Metallica album, it's not well produced and isn't packed enough where-as the metallica album is really padded and over produced... It's alright, but they've done way better before.
    Kylen Johnson
    My favourite is Stormy May Day. Oddly enough I love AC/DC guitar solos cause they are pure awesome rock. But Stormy May Day almost dosent seem to have a solo. A little odd. Rocking All The Way is pretty good and I havent got nearly as much of a chance to listen to Black Ice as I have wanted. For about 6 hours one day thats all I did was listen to the album.
    good ****ing album, but one thing I notice thats a change in AC/DC's sound, they relised they have a bass player! I could hear bass, before this I'd never really noticed bass amoung AC/DC before, I think that its a damn good improvement!
    my rating sound - 9 lyrics - 8.5 impression - 9 kiick ass some parts tho it reminded me alot of ballbrreaker
    beelaal85 wrote: According to me: Sound: 9.5, Lyrics: 8 & Impression: 9.5.
    sound +.5 Lyrics +1.5 Impression +99999
    Guitars on some tracks reminded me a bit of the bluesier Bon Scott era, of course a bit more modernized though I really enjoyed it Stormy May Day is deffinitly my favourite, i love it.
    In my experience, as a drummer, there is a vast difference between a boring drummer & a *consistent* drummer. A boring drummer would be a drummer who does not mesh with a band, plays random bullshit when your trying to practice a song, & who is partially deaf & cannot tell when he sounds like shit. AC/DC is not rocket science, and they never will be; they play simple hard rock n' roll, & the drumminhg fits accordingly. You might as well argue that the sky doesn't look good because it isn't green.
    I am so sick of people calling all the guitar work Angus's. The RHYTHM is written by Malcolm Young, not Angus - I believe Angus only writes the solos with several exceptions. I just wish Malcolm could get more credit as he's probably my favorite rhythm guitarist ever.
    Lou_dog 71
    whos acdc's drummer hes not very creative the same 4/4 drum beat in every song gets kinda boring
    Raijouta wrote: I am so sick of people calling all the guitar work Angus's. The RHYTHM is written by Malcolm Young, not Angus - I believe Angus only writes the solos with several exceptions. I just wish Malcolm could get more credit as he's probably my favorite rhythm guitarist ever.
    At last! Someone who actually knows who's the brains in AC/DC. Malcolm always has been the riff writer in the band and Angus has said so himself on many occasions. Angus has even gone so far as to call Malcolm a better solo player! Now that might just be courtesy or showing respect but check out the long solo at the start of "Soul Stripper" on Australin version of the "High Voltage" album or "'74 Jailbreak". Thats Malcolm. I've always loved that solo and only found out later it was Malcolm. Angus may play a mean lead but Malcolm, for me, will always be the guitarist i admire most of the two. As for the new album.. well, its what i expected so i cant say im dissapointed but its never going to trouble my top 5 AC/DC album list, know what i mean?
    who are you people to rag on AC/DC for having rock n roll in half their song titles. its not like every death metal band on the ****ing planet isnt calling their songs "godrape" or "****ing massacre" or "i suck huge balls". To all you metal heads who insult AC/DC for making music that is similar and for singing about the same things, listen to your favorite bands and tell me all their bullshit double bass lines and the same worn out sweep patterns arent the same on all their songs. I could play you 15 different metal bands' songs and you couldnt tell me who the **** was playing them because they all sound EXACTLY THE SAME! the exact same thing is true for Emo music, and country music, and especially blues music. you find a style and format that works and you stick to it, its been that way since the beginning of music.
    Lou_dog 71 wrote: whos acdc's drummer hes not very creative the same 4/4 drum beat in every song gets kinda boring
    his name is Phil Rudd and he's the man! this album is great, I've listened to it about 10 times through now and It's really grown on me with every listen. worst songs have gotta be Anything Goes and Rock n Roll Dream, especially the latter, its almost like a ballad.
    pretty good album, classic AC/DC yet it still provides a little bit that keeps it from being clich Also it just came to me that brian Johnson must be a skilled singer because with his gritty style you expect his voice would have deteriorated long ago.
    this cd kicks a$$. anything goes does sound a bit pop but it fits nicely with the rest of the tunes. one of the most solid ac/dc albums ever. 10 out of motherf#ucking 10 here.
    i personally think its awesome that they can still come up with something this good. i mean, c'mon... there older than bullcrap! lolz i love these guys
    Excellent album, nothing new but thats not a bad thing as they successfully retain that kick ass rock n roll sound. haven't yet been able to listen to a single song without feeling the need to listen to the whole album. Its just fantastic foot-stomping rock.. definately worth buying. a great return!!!!
    Cresspo wrote: You don't see metallica call half of their songs metal either...
    No, but I see Manowar doing it.
    Gormanilius wrote: crazy got it a week ago and its so cool they still sound heavy either u downloaded it or your a lair it cam out on the 20th
    it came out on other continents like australia (where ac/dc is from) earlier than in the u.s.
    White Roses
    strat07 wrote: Didn't like it even a bit. I hoped for smth new from AC/DC, but i got the same album as all their previous ones!
    Whats ur freakin problem dude! ACDC doesn't have to impress u cause they KICK @$$! the album kicks @$$ too. love it . bought it yesterday! hardcore acdc fan! wish I could be at the concert
    Longest eight years of my life!! AND now FINALLY!! A new album.....You'd think by now they'd write something that doesn't sound the same.
    Did you guys really expect some kind of John Petrucci guitar work on this? Get real it's AC/DC you knew going in this cd would be the same structure music wise. All their past albums have been like that why would this one change. I admit it does get a little old hearing the same sort of guitar and drum work but thats just who AC/DC is. They have sold 200 million albums for a reason, they have a loyal fanbase who likes this type of music. Though I tend to like more technicality in the instruments, especially the guitar, I still do like this album because AC/DC is just a good Rock and Roll band and thats how it's going to stay.
    jam phan420
    had this album for about a week now... gave it at least 6 good listens... AC/DC is still AC/DC fo sho.
    As a Hardcore Ac/Dc fan I am really happy with this new album. I wasn't expecting furious guitar riffs and solos like Rosie or Riff Raff. Understanding all of the guys in the band are old enough to be grandfathers.(and probably are) makes me happy to have just a straight forward, relaxed and mature rock 'n' roll album. People whine about the same 3 chords being used over and over again...but like always.. Ac/Dc never fail to have me stopming my feet and shaking my head with total pleasure.
    Excellent album. It's all classic rock but still has that modern air about it. I love it.
    this is a ****ing awesome album got it 4 days ago and been listning to it since ACCA DACCAS BACK
    Also, Brian's vocals have that rusty rattle, but he seems to have achieved more clarity in his singing. Bon Scott was still the better of the two by far.
    Gormanilius wrote: crazy got it a week ago and its so cool they still sound heavy either u downloaded it or your a lair it cam out on the 20th
    It was released on the 18th For Australia. A privilege that I used to the greatest effect I assure you ;]
    jack blacks gunna be happy =) i hope this isnt a really repetitive album like their others =) rock on boys.
    i love the new album =) tis got classic acdc-ness in it but also has song which have the felling of ones they have always wanted to play
    gonna definately get this today,A great cover,glad to see the cover is not another pic of Angus doing some pose cuz its not a one man band and that was getting annoying yet i noticed he still managed to be on it.
    I actually think this album flows better than Back In Black, & is definitely up there in quality. Interestingly, they both seem to have exactly 2 tracks I consider filler (spoilin for a fight & "jezehbell"), but don't mind listening to anyways. I sort of also agree on the comment on the last track being underwhelming, but it was still an excellent track. I think the unusual moves they pull on this album, including the slightly underhwelming last track, helped thisalbum become one of their best since Back In Black & Ballbreaker. I think this will also re-awaken mainstream attention for AC/DC; this is deinifltey a good cd to give to for new fans. The vocals also improved considerably, & the almost light, hands off production was a bonus. Will probably do a review later, as the reviews could use a casual fan's point of view for once.