First Listen: AC/DC’s new album Power Up, the greatest of rock and roll resurrections

Two mighty power chords, a twitch of hi-hat from behind the kit, an unearthly wail.

Original review by Jem of

And so the stone rolls away on the greatest of rock and roll resurrections.

Two mighty power chords, a twitch of hi-hat from behind the kit, an unearthly wail. The boys are not messing about. How long will it take you to realize that this was always going to be an AC/DC album to reckon with? Realize is a whip crack razor sharp opening salvo. The guitars are shark toothed. Brian’s screaming he’s got the power to electrify but he doesn’t need to tell you because the current is charging through your veins. Don’t let these moments just pass you by. It’s exhaustingly brilliant. A modern masterpiece.

AC/DC Power Up Album Cover

“Revenge it ain’t a sin.” Rejection is a nasty piece of work opening with six of the best from The Rudd before Brian threatens “better keep me on your side or I’ll find you in the night.” Ang and Stevie lock in and churn the riffs underneath the unpleasantries, Stonesy ooh oohs lighten the chorus and ironically the first guitar tone you hear echoes Rubin’s work with The Cult on Electric. An intense mid-tempo that feels faster than it is. We all know Shot In The Dark, it’s a great choice for a first single – fresh and familiar in equal measures. Through The Mists Of Time doesn’t even sound like ‘AC/DC’ when it opens until Brian sings of the pictures on the wall as “some hang, some fall.” I’m not sure how you write a melancholic celebratory grooving pulsating stomper but this is the song that sets that template. Throw in some Thunderstruckesque backing vocals and you have a song unlike anything in the canon. This one is for Mal.

Public Health Warning: Do not try to sing the opening to Kick You When You’re Down as you will rupture your larynx. An extraordinary song that matches a throbbing groove with a funky little riff as it slaps you about the head with another giant chorus. A word on the backing vocals here, despite being prevalent they are brilliantly engineered as a part of the songs and do not overpower. Could be a single but then what couldn’t be?

And so we come to Witches Spell. I got caught in its web on the very first play. Ang apes the intro to For Those About To Rock while The Rudd and Cliff just pump it out. That’s the first twenty seconds. It gets better from there. Cliff’s bass is so deep it found a pleasure spot I didn’t know I had. So many wonderful parts to this song it’s hard to concentrate on all of them. My favourite track after the first run through. “One, two a one-two-three-four.” The Rudd speaks! So begins the ripper that is Demon Fire. A total blast from beginning to end. One of those songs that you think is really cool and then it goes sub-zero. You’ll know the bit I mean. This will level cities live. Hey!

A bassline opening for Mr Williams no less and we’re into Wild Reputation. A distant cousin of Hold Me Back and Can’t Stand Still. The distant cousin that isn’t quite as friendly and walks past you in the street without even looking at you. Catchy as hell and with a lighter touch than the previous couple of tracks. Oh yeah! A chiming melody from Ang meets a gritty tone from Stevie as we slide into swampy blues territory with No Man’s Land. Think Stormy May Day crossed with Dogs Of War but even better. I realise this might be getting repetitive but this is a great track. The cherry on the cake here is the cymbal placement by The Rudd in the chorus, repeatedly breaking bottles over your head. Do it again! Do it again!

I don’t know what is going on at the beginning of Systems Down, I don’t know what it is about, there’s some kind of “chain reaction which needs immediate action.” We’ve got tigers, furnaces, plans of action and god knows what else, most importantly we have a majestic song with an absolutely mountainous chorus. Planet Killer.

You know that thing when Ang and Mal’s guitars have a little conversation throughout a song and then lock in for the chorus? That. In spades. With Stevie. Another song where unexpected riffs leap out from nowhere. “We got a good cure for what ails you.” Try the Money Shot. I am healed. After Code Red’s opening buzzsaw chords, a nimble quick fingered riff ripples under Brian as he rifles off lyrics so fast it’s hard to keep up. Stevie rips it up under the solo before the huge stadium-ready chorus hammers back in. A classic strutting end to a record so good we could never deserve it.

I have never loved a record more on the first day.

God knows what I’ll be like on the third day.


Read more about the new AC/DC album Power Up on the forum.