'Officially' Black Ice will be available in shops from Oct 20th. As always, I will be purchasing it, probably the De Luxe edition too.
Here's my take.
Rock N' Roll...with an edge
With an 8 year absence of any new studio recording AC/DC fans have had to make do with DVD's of rare footage, most of which your average hardcore AC/DC fan already has. To hear Black Ice is refreshing. For a while Aussie unknowns, Airbourne, were taking over the kings of Aussie pub rock. Not now.
Black Ice has the usual riffs, drumbeats, heavy bass lines and screeching vocals that accompany any AC/DC record, production wise it's infallible, Brendan O'Brien did a great job and deserves a mention as do the vocals of Brian Johnson.
Track by track
1: Rock n Roll Train.
Released a few weeks ago as a single, typical AC/DC, simple and foot stomping. By no means the strongest cut on the album but for marketing 'Rock N' Roll train will probably see shops stocking miniature trains with the AC/DC logo emblazoned on the side. Hey, I'm a cynic.
2: Skies On Fire
The harmony in this is what one would expect of Cliff and Malcolm, 'SKIES ON FYYYYY YERRRR'. A mid-tempo beat which kind of gets going as it approaches its end. Brian excels with the vocals with Phil keeping things tight behind the skins.
3: Big Jack
This oozes rhythm, almost like a train rolling along, touches of Rock N' Roll Damnation. An anthemic chorus that the kids [40 years plus] will love to sing along to at the up and coming gigs.
4: Anything Goes
There are a lot of hardcore fans I know that are kind of split with this song. Personally, I think it's the best on the album. It's AC/DC meets Nazareth meets The Darkness meets 80's rock. Brian sings along Springsteen [Born in the USA] style while Phil beats the skins. It has a good feel factor about it and for some reason a Christmassy type of feel to it. Many will want to play it over and over, some will want to skip it after it's first listen. I like it... I like it a lot.
5: War Machine
Surprisingly short in length but none the less a fairly decent song. Starts off moody and builds up momentum as it steams along. Malcolm holds things together whilst Cliff picks away. The guitar work of Angus along with Brian's vocals make this a definite inclusion in any set list... Maybe the strip routine halfway through?
6: Smash n Grab
Great harmonies once again from Cliff and Malcolm, Brendan O'Brien seems to enjoy getting the backing vocals right throughout this album. It has a catchy chorus: "SMASH, GRAB AND TAKE IT". Yeh, I'll take it thank you very much.
7: Spoilin' For A Fight
Pure AC/DC, This is what they are all about. 'Shot of Love' + 10. I tend to follow Malcolm whenever I listen to AC/DC albeit on my air Gretsch. Things are picking up now on this album.
Oh my! Add a piano and some brass to this little beauty and you have a masterpiece. Of course I jest, I don't think AC/DC would ever go down that route but close your eyes for a second and you can hear a piano and a fanfare of trumpets blow in appraisal of this killer track. How do the Young brothers come up with such great, yet simple riffs?
Hmmm, really not sure about this one. For me, it doesn't really get going. It's not weak and certainly not a filler. Maybe it is positioned wrong on the album? Some great guitar work from Angus but it loses pace for me midway through.
10: Stormy May Day
There was a lot of talk before the 'unofficial' launch of this album via torrent sites that Angus used slide on one of the songs. This is the song, although it's not spectacular slide, it is a change for Angus Young. Imagine the mood of 'Badlands' from 'Flick of the Switch'
11: She Likes Rock n Roll
Who invented the term 'Rock N' Roll'? They should have trademarked the term, they would have made a tidy sum of money from AC/DC. Not one of my favourites though the chant in the middle is 'interesting'
12: Money Made
One has to look [listen] past the vocals of Brian to hear the genius of the Young brothers on this track. Psychic, they really work off each other on this piece. I don't know what Brendan O'Brien said to them when they laid this down but whatever it was, it worked. A song to drool over.
13: Rock n Roll Dream
Starts off very slow, unusual for a song with 'Rock N' Roll' in its title. Anyone who said Brian Johnson cannot carry a tune, listen to the opening sequence. It moves from slow to upbeat to slow to upbeat. Hard to fully let yourself go and almost definitely not one for the set-list.
14: Rocking All The Way
Ah, keep smoking those cigarettes Brian, the gravel voice at the start of this track more or less tells you what you are in for. Jump aboard the Malcolm Young showboat. This little baby rolls and is infectious. Slightly repetitive chorus line but hey, that's AC/DC.
15: Black Ice
Kept thinking of Blackmore's Rainbow when I first heard this track... until I heard Angus. To be honest, a bands title track should be remembered. 'Highway to Hell', 'Back in Black', 'Let There Be Rock' etc. Black Ice, the track, can't stand next to any of the aforementioned. Sadly, this is the one filler on what is otherwise an enjoyable album.
Read the new book, The Evidence, However, Is Clear...The Seroxat Scandal
By Bob Fiddaman
AVAILABLE FOR DOWNLOAD HERE
PAPERBACK COMING SOON