AC/DC – Rock or Bust
Dedication and perseverance epitomise the fractured yet compelling journey of Australian rock giants AC/DC. Despite being bruised by tragedy, most significantly with the death of their original singer Bon Scott, and marked with controversies that have threatened their existence, they continue to rock like its 1975.
With the release of their 15th international album Rock or Bust, they face another set of challenges as they attempt to deal with the criminal allegations aimed at drummer Phil Rudd and aim to record their first album without co-founder and rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young following his recent dementia diagnosis.
An idiosyncracy of AC/DC – that has been debated by critics – is their inability to evolve their sound. They developed their formula at the beginning of their formation, and because it’s generated success, they stick with it. Their consistency operates like a brand; along with the lightning bolt logo, live music videos and Angus Young’s school uniform, their music continues to remain inflexible. It still consists of heavy and electrifying rhythm that blends hard and blues rock fronted by testosterone-fuelled shouting, accompanied by backing vocals that add thrust to the chorus.
The explosive trailers from the new album signified the likelihood of conservatism and with Malcolm Young’s nephew Stevie proving to be an appropriately homogenous substitute on the rhythm guitar, their music continues to replicate the same strict style. Producer Brendan O’Brien provides the analogue techniques that the band demanded six years earlier in the album Black Ice as they persevere on distancing themselves from the contemporary presentation adopted on Stiff Upper Lip and Ballbreaker.
There is also a lack of a distinctive concept like on Dirty Deeds Done Cheap or any extraordinary memorable classic that helped propel Back in Black and Highway to Hell to iconic status. The lyrical content misses the liberating and fun nature of their earlier work that, despite bordering on disrespectful crudeness, gave individuality to otherwise indistinguishable tracks.
Although it doesn’t provide any new insights, the new album still gives AC/DC relevance, possibly as an educational tool for a new generation of rock admirers. Following on from the commercial triumph of the Iron Man 2 soundtrack, AC/DC have exhibited their legendary trademarks once again including enviable riffs on the standout Rock the House, which resemble Jack White’s current catalogue. Their musical repetition may be enough for die-hard fans but for other listeners, it’s the same old tiresome story.
Matt Taylor Hobbs
Rock or Bust was released on 28th November 2014, for further information or to order the album visit here.
Watch the video for Play Ball here: