For Fans Of
Ah, AC/DC, Acca Dacca, AC Lightning Bolt DC. You just don’t know when to die, do you? 41 Years, and millions of albums sold hasn’t been enough for you guys clearly but hey, props for still doing what you still (supposedly) love and not letting old age or drummers trying to derail your career by ordering hits on people.
So late last month you dropped ‘Rock Or Bust’ (though the name feels like an ultimatum for your career, does it not?), your sixteenth album to date, and to absolutely nobody’s surprise it’s the same thing you’ve been doing for fucking decades now. Would the world expect anything different? Maybe not, but now you’ve basically stopped beating the dead horse and are now trying to eat it what remains of its rotting carcass.
It seems that ‘Same old, same old’ is the order of the day (if that day was almost 30 years long). The ever-recycled guitar riffs and chords play over the same typical mid-tempo 4/4-drum beats and when that’s all coupled with Brain Johnson’s loud, high, strangled vocals, it’s not as cool or as edgy as it used to be. ‘Rock Or Bust’ feels like a prehistoric fossil dug up in the ruins of some ancient civilisation from when AC/DC where the rulers of their genre.
Song-wise, these aren’t going to be the classics that the band produced over the years. The title track is like a mantra; mind-numbingly instilled into your brain and sweet, sweet relief only comes when the final note briskly rings out. ‘Play Ball’ (which has a laughably cheesy music video) is more the same with simple riffs and old man lyrics of ‘Let’s play ball’, and it’s easy to see that Johnson isn’t talking about footy either. ‘Rock The Blues Away’ is, as the name suggests, about old fashion rock ‘n roll and blues and it’s not bad. Not good mind you, but at least it’s some small progress. It’s the little victories, after all, even if they are very short lived. ‘Miss Adventure’ however is just boring from start to finish and it never goes anywhere (no points for guessing what the vocal hook of the chorus is either) and same goes for ‘Dogs Of War’, even with it’s guitar solo trying to pump you up (nice try Young), though it just ends up slamming it’s face into a brick wall.
Now, that’s just the first five songs of the album and there’s still six more to go – *insert disapproved grunting noise*. It’s like producer Brendan O’Brien got this far and just said ‘Fuck it, that’ll do guys’ and got them to repeat the same thing over and over for the remaining six songs. So a half-hour listen feels like an eternity as none of these songs have any sway, any stick nor any impact to speak of. Right up to the end of the final track ‘Emission Control‘ (doubtful it’s about heading towards a greener future for our now backwards country) one has to wonder what was the point of this? To make money? Well mission accomplished. To re-state your claim as one of rocks greatest? Sorry, not with trollop like this.
But should one get mad at the band for being the same and making mountains of green and yellow off it? AC/DC, Slayer, Pennywise, A Day To Remember, Coldplay; these are bands who have pretty much written the exact same material for most of their careers and have made a killing off it (maybe except for ADTR, what with owing Victory Records loads of cash apparently). So why change now? Well maybe because your prime has passed and you’ve released so many classics that maybe it’s time to not tarnish a great legacy. And also because it’s almost depressing to see the guys dragged out every couple of years for one-off shows and tours, looking more and more like the frail walking skeletons that we will all inevitably become.
In your time with ‘Rock Or Bust’ some questions may swim through your head. ‘Should they still be going after this long?’, ‘They must be too old for this by now?’, and of course, ‘What the fuck will Phil Rudd do next? Well, people will have their own opinions on those kinds of questions, but it’s safe to say that ‘Rock or Bust’ is just fucking bust.
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