CD review AC/DC ‘PWR/UP’

A new album by Australian hard rock veterans AC/DC was everything but a safe bet. Brian Johnson’s serious hearing problems and not least the sad news of Malcolm Young’s passing away made a new AC/DC nearly to a mission impossible. But sometimes fanatsy becomes reality and here it is, ‘PWR/UP’,the new album from AC/DC.

Even though Malcolm can no longer be listened to on the album, you can still enjoy a lot of Malcolm Young’s talent as songwriter. Just the fact of releasing the album nearly to day three years after Malcolm’s passing is honoring the iconic rhythm guitarist. Angus and Malcolm were the creative forces for the album and the two brothers worked on the first ideas for these twelve song. When the creative process advanced far enough, they brought the rest of the band on board and AC/DC were back in business with a new longplayer.

credits Josh Cheuse
Photo credits: Josh Cheuse

As on ‘Rock Or Bust’, Malcolm’s nephew Steve is on rhythm guitar and together with the AC/DC veterans Angus Young, Brian Johnson, Cliff Williams and Phil Rudd the new record ignites a stellar rock firework.

In some ways amazing is the fact that the guys, now deep in their 60s, can still free up so much energy. ‘PWR/UP’ is more than the title of an album. It is a further proof that rock and metal have nothing to do with ‘age’ – it reflects an attitude to life.

‘Shot in the Dark’ was the first song of the 17th AC/DC album that saw the light of day. On October 26th, the rock’n’roll world pressed the ‘start’ button and what came out of the loudspeakers was 100% AC/DC. Nobody expected major changes in the AC/DC sound and as far as ‘Shot in the Dark’ is concerned, it is a typical thumping AC/DC rocker that exactly meets the expectations.

The next bit was a teaser for ‘Demon Fire’ a few days ago. The song is faster than ‘Shot in the Dark’ and shows how well oiled the hard rock engine still runs. All cylinders bring a lot of power to the highway of rock’n’roll and you are tempted to say: enjoy the ride.

‘Realize’ is the great start into the album, making you ‘realize’ that the power of rock’n’roll is timeless. The next hard-hitting tune is called ‘Rejection’, equipped with the typical Angus Young solo part being a big wow-factor. A bit of a different expression is what ‘Through the Mists of Time’ offers. It’s a rather light-hearted song with a positive vibe that comes with it. The final punch might be missing here, but the track is still better than a lot of other stuff one get offered these days.

The pumping beat of ‘Kick You When You’re Down’ acts as a musical pacemaker, followed by ‘Witch’s Spell’. The latter is one of the highlights on the album with airplay potential. AC/DC shifts gears with the hard rocking freight train ‘Demon Fire’. In contrary to this uptempo rocker, the quintet reduces pace with ‘No Man’s Land’. The rhythm hammers with hypnotic persistence and there is no way to escape. Groove is a keyword for ‘PWR/UP’ and songs like ‘Systems Down’ are stellar representatives for this well-oiled groove machine from Down Under.

Far too soon, but while having a big smile in the face, the final track ‘Code Red’ takes the album across the finishing line. The tune’s a heavy pounding AC/DC smasher that finishes off the album, clarifying again that this album isn’t a Copperfield-ish illusion. ‘PWR/UP’ is real.

‘PWR/UP’ is the energizing soundtrack people need in a time of lockdown and isolation. Rock’n’Roll units and if it is so far just on vinyl/CD/download. The only remaining wish is, that live shows will be possible again soon so that the new songs can unfold their entire explosive energy. These songs can’t be performed in a live stream session. These songs need the push of the crowd, being the 6th AC/DC member.

Rating: 9 out of 10.

Tracklist:

  1. Realize
  2. Rejection
  3. Shot in the Dark
  4. Through the Mists of Time
  5. Kick You When You’re Down
  6. Witch’s Spell
  7. Demon Fire
  8. Wild Reputation
  9. No Man’s Land
  10. Systmes Down
  11. Money Shot
  12. Code Red

Label: Columbia /Sony Music

Genre: Hard Rock

Release Date EU: November 13th, 2020

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