Saturday, December 6, 2014

Album Review: Rock or Bust, by AC/DC

It has been 6 years since hard rock legends AC/DC put out an album of new material (Last one being Black Ice). This past Tuesday (December 2nd) the band released its 15th studio album Rock or Bust. Sadly, this is the first album without founding rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young who was forced to retire due to his worsening Dementia. Replacing him for this album was his nephew Stevie Young, who also stood in for him when he temporarily left the band in the late 80's to get his alcoholism under control.

The sound of Rock or Bust is pretty much in line with much of what we have heard from AC/DC in the past, but that is pretty much to be expected. They are one of the few bands who can get away with making the same music over and over. However, you can kind of tell that Malcolm is not there. His writing style and backing vocals are very distinct in AC/DC records past. To me it almost sounded like this time around the band was just trying to preserve its sound rather than push it to another level. That isn't to say that this is a bad record though, because it isn't.

Play Ball was the first single released from Rock or Bust. It has more of a classic mid-80's/early 90's AC/DC feel to it. It isn't the heaviest song in their repertoire, but it blends in well enough with what they already have to sound good. Angus Young's guitar soloing in the tune is as good as ever. Doesn't seem like he has lost anything in his old age. However, with all the good aspects about it I still have a difficult time saying that Play Ball is really memorable or worthy of being put up there with the AC/DC classics. I just don't really find it to be that driving or distinct.

Rock the Blues Away pretty much has the vibe the title would suggest. It starts off with a very straightforward 12 bar blues pattern, though it is jazzed up a little bit. Then again, since when does AC/DC do anything very technical? Not that this is a bad thing, of course. The only thing that really bothers me about this song is that the vocal melody of the verses is pretty much the same exact melody from the verses of Anything Goes, a song from their previous album. I hate to say it, but that's probably one of the main reasons I like the song. However, it is also upbeat and cheerful enough to help me just rock my own blues away so I can't say I hate it.

Rock or Bust clocks in as the shortest album of AC/DC's repertoire at 34:55. I hate to say it, but that's probably for the best. This is not a bad album by any stretch of the imagination, but I feel that Black Ice was far better. This time around there didn't seem to be as much of the bold adventurous spirit that the band has had in the past. To me it seems like Rock or Bust is AC/DC in mourning over what is pretty much the loss of their brother. There are two or three tracks that are worth listening to, but the rest of it almost seems a little phoned in to me. Rock or Bust is still worth getting, but I would wait till the album goes on sale to buy it honestly.

Rock or Bust, by AC/DC receives 3 out of 5 stars.

Track List:

1. Rock or Bust
2. Play Ball
3. Rock the Blues Away
4. Miss Adventure
5. Dogs of War
6. Got Some Rock and Roll Thunder
7. Hard Times
8. Baptism By Fire
9. Rock the House
10. Sweet Candy
11. Emission Control

Buy the Album on Amazon:

1 comment:

  1. After listening through a couple times, I think this might be their weakest album. You can really tell they're not working at full capacity. Every song is so short and sounds like pieces or demos of songs that could have been expanded into full solid tracks. It's not really bad, as there's some good material and riffs. But even the best parts of the album seem incomplete.