In 1980 AC/DC released Back In Black, arguably the loudest album of its time. But also at that time the band were mourning their departed singer Bon Scott whilst at the same time introducing their new Geordie front man, Brian Johnson. Back In Black remains one of the biggest selling studio albums ever made having sold over fifty million copies worldwide.

They have released eight studio albums since then with Johnson at the helm, but for all intents and purposes the band fell apart in 2014 after the release of Rock Or Bust because during the tour Johnson was told by his doctor that he would go deaf if he did not stop touring immediately. Axl Rose, Guns N’ Roses front man filled the vacant place so that the remaining tour dates could be fulfilled.

It was a very difficult time for all band members resulting in bassist Cliff Williams calling it a day at the end of the tour, Phil Rudd, AC/DC’s most constant drummer was placed under house arrest having been charged with drugs offences and threats to kill, but the biggest kick in the teeth for the band was when founding member, rhythm guitarist and Angus Young’s brother Malcolm was diagnosed with dementia and had to be replaced on Rock Or Bust by his nephew, Stevie Young. Malcolm died in 2017.

With lead guitarist Angus the last man standing, he decided to look through the back log of songs that he had co-written with Malcolm in 2008 and when the rest of the band were re-united at Malcolm’s funeral, the spark was re-lit. With a mysterious device having restored Johnson’s hearing, all criminal charges against Rudd being dropped, Williams being prepared to give it all another go and Stevie permanently strapping on his uncle’s guitar, along with long time producer Brendan O’Brien, they have put together a set of twelve new songs that rock as heavily as anything in the band’s back catalogue.

This latest offering, Power Up is the fastest selling album so far in 2020, so it has clearly been eagerly anticipated. Opening track Realize kicks it all off with the one-two punch of so many songs heard before and the formula still works. With Johnson’s tortured larynx still delivering his trademark Geordie growls, and Rejection with its electrifying Angus Young guitar solo, this is AC/DC at their very best.

Lead single, Shot In The Dark, got extensive radio air time, due to its meaty intro, a danceable rhythm, some little lead guitar interjections and a reinforced bass line which leads to it being a carbon copy of any AC/DC song with its massive chorus.

Through The Mists Of Time breaks with the band’s hard rocking riffs by wistfully marking the passage of years, making it a truly different track with it being the lightest, airiest pop song on the album. The blues rocker Kick You When You’re Down with its driving beat will undoubtedly be a favourite of the fans as the vocal gravel of Johnson’s is in full effect on the guiding hook filled track. It also shows that Stevie really has filled in as good as any musician in rock can as Malcolm’s chugging riffs were the bedrock to AC/DC’s sound.

Thankfully there are very few surprises on the album; the throbbing intro to Witch’s Spell harks back to Who Made Who, Demon Fire, a sleazy stomper that is a distant relative to Whole Lotta Rosie but not as fast highlights the powerhouse drumming from Rudd, Wild reputation rumbles in that inimitable AC/DC manner and No Man’s Land is another song from the classic AC/DC mould.

Systems Down has the riffs that fans have come to adore and riffs that only Angus and Malcolm could conceive, whilst Money Shot is just plain filthy. Album finisher Code Red chops out heavy blues that sees Angus’ fingers duck walking all over his fret board with Johnson’s voice being the same as it ever was; high pitched , shrilling and unadulterated AC/DC.

Power Up is their seventeenth album of eardrum shredding guitar terror and odes to raising hell and is twelve thumping tracks with no filler. When it comes to hard rock, nobody does it better. AC/DC have once again proven that they’re masters of their craft. With crystal clear sound, a song selection sufficiently varied to sustain interest, spot on vocals, excellent production, despite an average age of 67, AC/DC have proved with this album that they haven’t lost it.

Angus has said that with Malcolm having co-written all of Power Up’s tracks, this album is a tribute to his brother just as Back In Black was a tribute to Bon Scott. Although there will never be another Malcolm Young, his spirit lives on with this album.

Our Rating: 5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

Number of tracks: 12

Running time: 41:03

Released on: Columbia

Release date: 13th November 2020

Formats: CD/Vinyl/Cassette/DL

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