January 16, 2015 AC/DC – Rock or Bust (Album Review)
When it comes to legendary status in the Rock world AC/DC holds the top notch since the late ’70s. Formed by two brothers from Scotland in November 1973 under the Scorpio sign, the outfit quickly became an instant success breaking album sale records with over two hundred million worldwide. Sustaining the tragic death of beloved singer Bon Scott in 1980, the band continued on with new vocalist Brian Johnson. With their new vocalist, in 1981 their seventh studio album For Those About To Rock, We Salute You was their first to reach the number one status in the US, proving AC/DC had plenty left to offer. Fast-forward all these years later and these ageless Rockers have toured consistently through the years and pumped out hit album after album. In 2014 the lineup of Johnson, Angus Young (lead guitar), Phill Rudd (drums), Cliff Williams (bass), along with newest addition Stevie Young (guitar), whom replaced his uncle and original member Malcolm Young, return with their highly anticipated album Rock or Bust. Released under Columbia Records on November 28th 2014 the album features the production of Grammy winner Brendan O’Brien. Marking their first record since 2008’s Black Ice, the album also is the first without Malcolm on guitar.
Getting the record under way on a high note, falling in with true AC/DC form, is lead single and title track “Rock or Bust”. Offering up a catchy chorus and a true Rock rhythm, the song is finished off by Johnson’s signature voice. Next, “Play Ball’” follows with a faster beat and lippy guitar riffs that tell a story with fun and simplistic lyrics. A stronger musical background leads to a killer guitar solo from Angus along with snappy breakdowns. On “Rock The Blues Away” a longer opening feeds interest as a smooth, mellow drum beat follows with higher gruff vocals of Johnson which add a fun twist. A deep rocking bass line seamlessly carries clean guitars and heavy cymbals on “Miss Adventure.” Featuring strong backing vocals and key changes, it is AC/DC all the way. Keeping the music flowing, “Dogs Of War”, a wicked fading guitar opening with heavy drums lead into a more dramatic track. The main bulk of this song offers less aggression, with powerful lyrics that highlight a mellow, softer voice of Johnson. Bringing the high voltage right back, “Get Some Rock and Roll Thunder” opens with a true heavy drum beat and monster guitar riffs that carry into a show-stealing guitar solo toward the end.
The song “Hard Times” marks the midway point of the album and it is a smooth bluesy track with a knock out rhythm and a cool beat. This comes right before “Baptism By Fire” which starts with a manic bass lead that pulls into a stronger drum beat with monstrous instrumentals and playful background laughter. Proving you can teach an old dog new tricks, “Rock The House” has a totally new and exciting sound for AC/DC. It opens with an intense vocal line that rips into a trance of pure drums, simplistic guitar, and bass lines that allow the track to pop out from the rest. As the record winds down, “Sweet Candy” hits the ears hard with an all bass and drum opener. This is followed by the deep, clean gruff singing of Johnson that insures a defined, sexy, and different track. Coming in last, but not least, “Emission Control” features almost dirty lyrics and sweet sassy vocals making this toe tapper a solid book-end to Rock or Bust.
After almost forty years of touring, and writing Rock classics, AC/DC truly delivers exactly what the fans were looking for with Rock or Bust. Clocking in at a little over thirty-five minutes, do not let the length of the record deter you; this is a classic Rock album that never falters’ or disappoints. While the band continue on without Malcolm with heavy hearts, they still bring forth some of their best Rock-n-Roll chops in years, so rev up the speakers and go cruising with Rock or Bust. Cryptic Rock gives this album 4.5 out of 5 stars.