ac:dc10:17:2014-640 Steve Mascord of Hot Metal posted a review of AC/DC’s latest album, Rock Or Bust. Read the review in its entirety below:

When it comes to expectations regarding this, the Australian hard rock behemoths’ 16th studio album, pessimism has out-weighed optimism.

Founder Malcolm Young has retired due to ill health, drummer Phil Rudd appears to be out of the band again following a brush with the law and producer Brendan O’Brien has had to deny speculation Rock Or Bust was spat out in just two weeks.

Lead-off singles Play Ball and Rock Or Bust have divided aficionados: are they tired and clichéd, or refreshingly uncomplicated examples of what rock used to be? Those who are optimistic about next week’s release believe the line-up changes may give AC/DC a new perspective, a different slant on their timeless blues rock that changed the face of popular music.

This review is based on the album launch on November 23rd in the New South Wales, Australia, town of The Rock, population 850. The new video for Rock Or Bust was played on a big screen to a crowd of around 1000 in fly-infested 40 degree heat, and then the 11-track album was aired in full at high volume.

Aside from the two aforementioned songs which are already known to fans, Sweet Candy and Hard Times garnered the best response from a group of curious locals and hardcore AC/DC fanatics. But the uncomfortable truth is that the loss of key personnel has not seen them fall back from 2008′s Black Ice, nor has it given them a new lease of life.

AC/DC has just released another patchy album, with some thunderous moments and some that will have you hitting the skip button. There is no epiphany, no capitulation, neither victory nor defeat. The following track-by-track assessment is provided via notes I made at the launch.

Rock Or Bust: While not a classic, it’s one that has the reviewer humming the chorus. It’s one big riff, really – slightly reminiscent of Come And Get It from Stiff Upper Lip. A success, then.

Play Ball: The charm of this song was not immediately apparent when we first heard it, as part of a baseball commercial. Angus’ lick at the end of the chorus is simple and stellar, elevating it above the dross with which some have grouped it.

Rock The Blues Away is a boogie singalong romp, similar to Rocking All The Way on Black Ice. It lacks a distinctive riff but is saved by a catchy chorus, although Malcolm’s backing vocals are missed;

Miss Adventure is just terrible – possibly the worst song Ackadacka have ever recorded. It fits into that category from their canon that I call military/metallic – the songs which stray furthest from their bluesy roots. What’s fast but goes nowhere? Miss Adventure. A dog’s breakfast.

Dogs Of War: A rumbling anthem with an incisive riff, this one isn’t so bad. There’s a chanted chorus and crunching guitars in one of the more engaging tracks on offer here.

Got Some Rock’n’Roll Thunder: Just a song – not good, not bad. It chugs along at an agreeable pace but reaches no great heights and it’s unlikely to be hummed in the showers of the world any time soon.

Hard Times: We’re certainly not broadening the English language with our titles here, are we? But Hard Times has real value, with a groove-based intro and the sort of slightly funky refrain that makes you want to bang your entire torso rather than just your head. A good track.

Baptism By Fire breaks away from the AC/DC template somewhat with a different song structure. It’s not a big envelope they have, but they’re pushing it here. The results, however, are mixed.

Rock The House: This one has a Zeppelin-esque call-and-response dynamic with Angus Young wailing between, rather than underneath, Brian Johnson’s vocals. But the song itself is about as memorable as its title is innovative.

Sweet Candy: Hear that intro? That’s the band that released Highway To Hell in 1979. For some of Johnson’s tenure, unfortunately, it’s sounded more like a dirt track to hell – boggy, slippery, even flooded. Sweet Candy finds us a stretch of bitumen.

Emission Control The worst attempt by old rockers to do a hip pun since Alice Cooper released Woman Of Mass Distraction. But Alice’s song was better than Emission Control. Instantly forgettable.

Hot Metal Rating: 6.5/10

Rock Or Bust is due out on December 2nd, but is available for pre-order by clicking on the highlighted links below:




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  • George on

    Do yourself a favor people don’t ever listen to critics from most mags, most internet sites, etc., younger generation morons who are growing up in one of worst era’s of music, bubble gum pop crap, generic crap, where every singer (woman or man) all sound the same you can’t tell the difference between any of them and even if you could it’s cheap untalented garbage and this includes every type of music made today with exception of some good new rock bands out there that Eddie has pointed out. These critics don’t have a clue about music and don’t have ear for music, and there are people who have an ear and who don’t. I’ll respect someone’s opinion who have a real opinion and basis of some type of musical knowledge. My own kids play instruments, I played bass guitar for very brief time, by no means am I good musician, my kids are decent but I was surrounded as were my kids by very good musicians. From 1950’s to the early 90’s with exception of few bands post 90’s was the greatest era of Rock and roll, hard rock, metal, soft rock, etc, etc, etc ever!!!! This isn’t debatable people, there will never be bands or singers ever like them again, maybe a few that get it, but not likely, so embrace all these bands as much as you can, there not gonna be around forever! The 2 new AC/DC songs and the fact that they still bring it as well as countless other’s still kicking ass is enough to buy the album. Get a clue you so called half ass critics, sorry to be so blunt, you need a slap in the back of the head. Go listen to the freaking album again. every song does not have to be great, if half the songs are good it’s still BETTER than half the new crap being shoved down people’s throats. Do me favor people who hide behind the internet or in their closets in their tighty whities your opinions don’t mean a damn thing to people who actually have a clue.

  • Steve Mascord on

    Thanks for posting Eddie. Whether I am a buffoon is not for me to say – but I just checked the ipad and there was no Katie Perry. One hundred per cent about those who cannot do, criticising. I guess I’m a criticiser rather than a doer; someone has to do it. I heard the album before most people, so I just tried to give an honest impression of what I heard. You know what they say about opinions and assholes – I’m an asshole with an opinion. Please come visit , and @HotMetalmag and tell me how wrong I am. Cheers!

  • David C on

    Could not give two shats what the critics say. Rolling Stone called AC/DC possibly the “worst rock and roll band ever” in a review back in the ’70’s. How’d that work out for ya’ll lol?

    Bottom line is this…the boys are still making kick ass music into their 4th decade. You can’t count on one hand the bands have done that. And they aren’t just hanging on…they are writing new music and touring to support it.

    So yeah, it’s all good. Futch the critics…AC/DC has always been about the fans. And they always will be.

  • James K. on

    Reviews don’t really matter that much to me. I can recall albums I love that didn’t get great reviews. I listen and make my own decision. Looking back into history, Sabbath, for example, didn’t get a positive review until Sabbath, Bloody Sabbath. So does that mean the four albums that came before it suck? No, it’s just someone’s opinion, that’s all. There’s good and bad with every band but the real key to longevity is consistency and that has been AC/DC’s strength. They know how to rock and they do it better than anyone, end of story.

  • Charles Clinchot on

    Well, from what I heard so far sounds good. So I’m going to get it Tuesday.

    Eddie, Dana and all Happy Turkey day.

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