Sound — 7
After an anxious 8 year wait, AC/DC return with their 15th studio album, 'Black Ice'. The much anticipated addition to the band's catalogue has been produced by Brendan O'Brien, and the sound of the album may be described as conservative, without being too adventurous; this may not be a bad thing, though. Several different styles have been employed by the Young brothers throughout the 15 song, hour long album. One example of this is the use of slide guitar by Angus in the tune 'Stormy May Day'. While it isn't the best example of proficient slidework by a guitarist in the history of the world, it compliments the song very well. For the remainder of Black Ice, two different styles have been composed; the mid-tempo hard rock the group is renowned for, and the slow, bluesy crawl first seen on 'The Jack' from the High Voltage album. "Rock 'N Roll Train" and "Wheels" are my favorite exponents of the hard rocking rhythm seen on the majority of the songs, while "Decibel" reflects the crawling blooze contingent.
Lyrics — 8
Brian Johnson has allegedly taken over the pen and paper as lyricist on this album. The lyrics are typical AC/DC; sex, booze and rock 'n roll. Johnson shines with his vocals, however. Opting for more of a crooner role, Johnson 'sings' the tunes, rather than letting rip with his signature scream. This results in a pleasant listening experience, and may result in more outsiders to join the AC/DC loving family. Hats off to Brian.
Overall Impression — 7
No one is waiting for another Back In Black or Highway To Hell. Black Ice isn't in the same league as these giants, nor does it try to be. This one has been penned as a safe, reliable addition to the band's catalogue, reinforcing AC/DC as a constant force in Hard Rock. Some may be disappointed the band has not stepped out of the box to produce a harder, rawer rock album reminiscent of the 70's. (I include myself in that category). Maybe the next (and possibly final) album by these giants may be a final, explosive hurrah. Maybe... Black Ice does contain enough quality material to be an enjoyable listen, however. My pick of the songs would be; Rock 'N Roll Train, Big Jack, Anything Goes, Wheels and Money Made. A solid effort from the matured, precise machine that is modern day AC/DC.