AC/DC — Rock Or Bust (review)

AC/DC — Rock Or Bust album cover Album · 2014 · Hard Rock Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
"Rock Or Bust" is the 15th internationally released full-length studio album by Australian hard/heavy rock act AC/DC and the first since "Black Ice" from 2008. The album was released through Albert/Columbia Records in November 2014. Since the release of "Black Ice (2008)" and the subsequent tour there´s been one lineup change as original rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young was diagnosed with dementia and as a consequence retired from the band. He is replaced here by his nephew Stevie Young. Stevie had previously filled in for Malcolm on AC/DC´s 1988 U.S. tour, when the latter was treated for his alcohol dependency.

It wasn´t the only drama occuring during the writing and recording of "Rock Or Bust", as drummer Phil Rudd decided to turn up 10 days too late for the recording sessions and nearly got himself kicked out of the band. His eviction from AC/DC eventually happened anyway though as a consequence of Rudd being arrested in early November 2014 for attempting to procure the murder of two men and for drug possession. The most serious charges were later dropped but as Rudd did receive a house arrest sentence, he was unable to tour with AC/DC in support of "Rock Or Bust" and the band decided to recruit Chris Slade instead. Slade also played with AC/DC from 1989 to 1994 and appeard on "The Razors Edge (1990)".

Stylistically the music on "Rock Or Bust" is more or less AC/DC as they´ve always sounded, but that´s really no surprise by now. While they´ve always released quality material, development of sound stopped many years ago. You always know what you´re gonna get when you put on a new AC/DC album. It´s blues based hard rock/heavy rock with a hard rock beat, blues based heavy riffs, blistering blues based solos by Angus Young, and Brian Johnson´s unmistakable rusty voice in front. So when you can´t say much new about the musical style, it´s the quality of the songwriting that´s of most interest. Angus Young apparently constructed most of the tracks from bits and pieces left over from the recording sessions of previous albums, which would make sense since one part of the main songwriting team retired. That´s not audible at all though, if such a songwriting method should suggest a drop in quality, as the material on "Rock Or Bust" is generally both catchy, powerful, and memorable. It´s hard to argue that the songwriting style isn´t slightly one-dimensional, and while all tracks are enjoyable while they play, there are only a few really strong tracks featured on the album. That´s nothing new when it comes to AC/DC releases though.

It´s not audible that the guys in AC/DC aren´t exactly youngsters anymore either. Johnson screams/sings with as much power as he has always done, the rhythm section and new rhythm guitarist Stevie Young plays raw and intense, and the guitar solos by Angus Young are as energetic, well played, and inspired as ever. The sound production is also both powerful and raw, so upon conclusion "Rock Or Bust" is yet another quality release by AC/DC. It´s more of the same though, so depending on how you feel about that views may vary. Personally I enjoy the album a lot, but I don´t count it among their strongest releases and it doesn´t shake my foundation either, but a 3.5 star (70%) rating is still deserved.
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siLLy puPPy wrote:
3 months ago
Credits are usually given to Angus Young, Malcolm Young and Bon Scott as equal songwriting but i suppose i do mean primary lyricist. Back In Black was supposedly written before Scott froze to death however Johnson seems to get credit for it. I read it in an interview once long ago. No idea where. To my ears, Back In Black still has Scott songwriting techniques whereas everything after sounds different and honestly more generic except for a few tracks here and there.
Pekka wrote:
3 months ago
Primary lyricist, I suppose you mean? I believe all the music has always come from the Youngs. And where does it say that Scott wrote anything for Back in Black?
siLLy puPPy wrote:
3 months ago
Brian Johnson isn't a deal breaker, but Bonn Scott was also the primary songwriter. Everything before his death is much better. Back In Black is only as good as it is because Scott wrote most of the songs. After that, the songs become more generic. There are a few standouts here and there but i just think AC/DC is overrated in the Johnson era when there are a million more bands more interesting. I just don't care about them any longer!
Vim Fuego wrote:
3 months ago
I've found the last two albums unbearably dull.
UMUR wrote:
3 months ago
To each his own :-) I personally prefer Bon Scott, but I enjoy Brian Johnson´s rusty screaming too.
siLLy puPPy wrote:
3 months ago
I can't stand Brian Johnson's voice therefore i have never checked out anything new and the last time i tried to listen to one of the 80s albums i was thorougly bored.

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