To say that I was conflicted about seeing this one pop up on the release calendar would be a bit of an understatement. Skeptical would probably better a better way to characterize my reaction. Look, AC/DC was a huge influence on my early headbanging days. Highway to Hell and Back in Black are two of the definitive hard rock/metal albums of all time. Their legacy is just solid and they are a very important band to me. However, let’s face it: modern day AC/DC has been a bit of a shitshow for quite some time. The creative force of the band, Malcolm, has died. Lead singer Brian Johnson lost his hearing. Drummer Phil Rudd was arrested for attempting to hire a hit man to kill a dude who used to work for him. Bassist Cliff Williams retired. And then the band went through this weird phase touring with Axl fucking Rose on vocals. Such a fucking abomination. I figured AC/DC was simply destined to end its long career as a circus sideshow.
Well, some good things did manage to fall into place prior to this album being produced. First of all, Axl Rose does not sing on this album. So, already off to a positive start. Johnson had some sort of successful treatment on his hearing which led him back into the fold. Phil Rudd cleared up his legal issues and Cliff came out of retirement. Stevie Young, nephew to Malcolm and Angus, has taken over on rhythm guitar. So, we’re pretty close to having the Back in Black lineup intact. And that’s cool. But, it’s still not like these guys have put out anything decent or relevant in decades. I was still pretty skeptical about this album being anything decent. But, in light of the many deaths we’ve suffered in the metal world in 2020 (especially Eddie Van Halen), I really wanted to have this be a cool piece of nostalgia.
And you know what? It is. Sure, this is nothing approaching Highway to Hell or Back in Black. Hell, I’m not even sure it approaches Flick of the Switch. But, it fucking rocks. It’s fucking catchy. I found myself repeatedly jumping up during the playing of it and doing a mock Angus goose-step around the room. It’s not groundbreaking (this is AC/DC we’re talking about…kind of goes without saying), but it’s a damn fun album. Another bonus is that a good chunk of the riffs on here were written by Malcolm before his death.
I don’t know. In light of all the bullshit of this bullshit year, it’s kind of nice to finish it out with a solid fist-in-the-air rockin’ album by one of the best bands to ever do it. The old guys made me feel a little less cynical about things. And that’s no small feat.
3.5 flip flops out of 5