AC/DC, “Power Up” (Columbia)
A new AC/DC record may well be the only good thing to happen in 2020.
The legendary Aussie rockers are back with “Power Up,” the latest in a long line of electricity-themed albums that not only talk about power but bristle and crackle with it.
It’s been 40 years since AC/DC released arguably the best heavy metal album of all time with “Back In Black,” but these guys still sound as good as they did back then.
For some, that’s a bit of a problem: Decades of AC/DC albums have tended to sound like each other, and that’s the case with at least part of “Power Up.”
The opening track, “Realize,” uses almost the same “ah-ah-ah-ah” chant that served as the foundation of 1990’s “Thunderstruck.” Another new track, “Witch’s Spell,” uses a similar-sounding guitar line.
“Rejection” uses the same four-chord pattern as 1979’s “Shot Down In Flames.” And “Shot In the Dark” bears more than a passing resemblance to 2008’s “Rock ‘N’ Roll Train.”
But it’s all good. I can eat pizza five nights a week, with it tasting the same each night, and it’s still awesome.
Not everything here has been heard before. “Kick You When You’re Down” has a funky, catchy riff atop pounding drums, and “Demon Fire” is a fast-paced boogie with a riff that burns into your brain with just one listen.
After an extended hearing-related absence that necessitated Guns ‘N’ Roses’ Axl Rose filling in to finish an AC/DC tour, lead singer Brian Johnson is back at the mic, and his voice, subjected to so much torture over the decades, sounds powerful again.
And no guitar player anywhere sounds quite like Angus Young; the sound of his fingers sliding up and down the strings is as raw as it is instantly recognizable.