AC/DC - Power Up review



Reviewer:
7.0

122 users:
7.43
Band: AC/DC
Album: Power Up
Release date: November 2020


01. Realize
02. Rejection
03. Shot In The Dark
04. Through The Mists of Time
05. Kick You When You're Down
06. Witch's Spell
07. Demon Fire
08. Wild Reputation
09. No Man's Land
10. Systems Down
11. Money Shot
12. Code Red


How many bands do you know that you can immediately recognize their sound from the first two notes of any song of theirs? And how many bands do you know that have whole albums in their discography that could easily be greatest hits compilations? Not that many, eh? AC/DC are back and they are powered up!

To be entirely honest, I was not expecting Power Up. And who did, really? With Malcolm Young officially leaving the band in 2014 and passing away three years later, with Phil Rudd being replaced in 2015 following his criminal charges, with Brian Johnson doing his last show in 2016 due to hearing loss, and with Cliff Williams deciding to stop touring and recording partly or entirely because of all of the above, the band was as good as dead. However, after a hiatus of four years the Aussies decided to surprisingly return with the line-up of Rock Or Bust; that is, Angus Young, Brian Johnson, Cliff Williams, Phil Rudd, and Stevie Young.

It is no secret that one of the top selling hard rock bands in the history of hard rock is often being accused of building an entire career upon a handful of riffs. But who can argue that AC/DC do not remain vastly influential even today, when bands from every subgenre of heavy music are ripping them off drawing inspiration from them? Don't take my word for it; just check this one out. And this one. Or this one. And the list is endless.

To say that the recipe here is familiar would be the understatement of the century. AC/DC deliver once again loud, simple, pounding riffs and grooving backbeats that are unashamedly monotonous and utterly formulaic, but at times also markedly amusing. I mean, you know how it goes, every song reminds you of every other song and so on, like "Demon Fire" is a mix between "Safe In New York City" and "Caught With Your Pants Down" for example, but who cares really and at the end of the day what did you expect? Anticipating AC/DC to deliver something different at this point would be as futile as waiting for Godot. And who would want something different from this band anyway?

If you know AC/DC even a little bit, you realize that even though Malcolm Young isn't part of the band, he is very much a part of this record. Not only because it is dedicated to him but also because Angus dug into the pile of riffs from the Black Ice period for much of Power Up's material. Other AC/DC albums are also reminisced here and you can hear that first and foremost on the tracks that bookend Power Up. Opener "Realize" could have had a place on Flick Of The Switch and closer "Code Red" with its southern rock vibes wouldn't feel awkward on Fly On The Wall. Both of those are among the highlights but the best part of Power Up starts from the super-catchy first single "Shot In The Dark" and stretches up to the aforementioned "Demon Fire". In between these two, "Through The Mist Of Time" is the most radio-friendly track, "Kick You When You're Down" is full of bluesy hooks and a great chorus, and "Witch's Spell" is a totally uplifting sensation. On the other hand, filler material is not absent but one of the strong points of Power Up is that it doesn't overstay its welcome and with almost all its songs being around three minutes-long, even the filler ones do not hang around long enough to become annoying.

Full disclosure time: I don't rate all AC/DC albums highly, just the ones of the first five years of the band. In my opinion, everything that they have recorded with Brian Johnson (who actually sounds great at 73 and this is a miracle of modern medicine), with the exception of Back In Black, belongs in the category of music that makes you tap your foot on the floor mostly indifferently, while you're knocking back a few beers at the bar chatting with your friends. Sure, some of those albums feature a few songs that may also make you bop your head while tapping your foot on the floor and at times they put a big smile on your face, but the sheer brilliance of Let There Be Rock, Highway To Hell, and Back In Black that gets you dressed in a school uniform so that you can duckwalk in style while air-guitaring and attempting to mimic Angus Young was never to be heard again after 1980. And Power Up does not change this.

I cannot imagine any AC/DC fan being disappointed with this one just like I cannot imagine it attracting any newcomers. Objectively speaking, Power Up is strong by this band's standards because it features an unexpectedly significant number of moments of the head-bopping/big-smile category that I mentioned in the previous paragraph. It is a much better way to put an end to their career with compared to Rock Or Bust and it is also one of their best records with Brian Johnson.

In one sentence, Power Up is the most we could expect from AC/DC at this point.

"A shot in the dark
Make it feel alright
A shot in the dark
All through the whole night"


 



Written on 01.12.2020 by Only way to feel the noise is when it's good and loud!


Comments

Comments: 16   Visited by: 131 users
01.12.2020 - 10:47
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
I gotta disagree with you here. I did give it a listen and I tried to leave my "they all sound the same" on the door as I entered this album, but I still left as disappointed as I was with Rock Or Bust. There's pretty much no song that really felt like something I'd want to return to, which isn't something I can say about Black Ice or Ballbreaker. It felt like every song was just short of actually having some tooth in it, like it was constantly teasing and never actually delivering the goods. I mean, kudos to them for making an album at this point and still sounding pretty good, and having the songs still be fairly varied, but this is below average even by AC/DC standards.
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01.12.2020 - 10:54
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
This is suprise, blast from the past, seems they open archive box and tock old unfinished songs, riffs. They have might many such. They were old school, they jammed and did it every day. Bands dont jam today, they do pc program guitar hero shit. I heard band in a studio record evey instruments same time. This is killer, have a drink on you Bon, Malcolm, it was long ride in rock n roll train, no speed limits, stop signs....
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Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
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01.12.2020 - 13:50
Daniell
_爱情_
I, on the other hand, enjoyed this album a lot more than the last two or three. Go figure.
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01.12.2020 - 13:51
JoHn DoE
Written by Daniell on 01.12.2020 at 13:50

I, on the other hand, enjoyed this album a lot more than the last two or three. Go figure.


I agree.
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I thought the two primary purposes for the internet were cat memes and overreactions.
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01.12.2020 - 14:00
nikarg
Mod
Me too.
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01.12.2020 - 21:47
Archie 666
Same.
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01.12.2020 - 22:51
IH8Hipsters
I'm a die hard fan and have been for almost 40 years now. I thought this was much better than I expected and definitely better than Rock or Bust which IMO is their worst album. I do disagree with the reviewer that the Brian Johnson era didn't produce any great AC/DC albums other than Back in Black. For Those About To Rock, Razors Edge and Ballbreaker are all elite hard rock albums IMO and some of their best work as a band.

I did love your references the the bands that were influenced (ripped off) by their riffs.
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02.12.2020 - 12:03
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
Written by JoHn DoE on 01.12.2020 at 13:51

Written by Daniell on 01.12.2020 at 13:50

I, on the other hand, enjoyed this album a lot more than the last two or three. Go figure.


I agree.


Stiff Upper Lipp was OM, I remember when it was out, we bought a CD and listened at my place, non of us liked it, but later I enjoyed it, Its good album , but 2 folowers are let down. This is good, somehow maybe best whit Brian in some way acter Black
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Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
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02.12.2020 - 12:19
JoHn DoE
Written by Bad English on 02.12.2020 at 12:03

Stiff Upper Lipp was OM, I remember when it was out, we bought a CD and listened at my place, non of us liked it, but later I enjoyed it, Its good album , but 2 folowers are let down. This is good, somehow maybe best whit Brian in some way acter Black


I kinda understand what you say here.
Did you misspell "OK"? I didn't know it was possible.

Power Up is the first new AC/DC album I had fun listening to since Ballbreaker. Better said?
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I thought the two primary purposes for the internet were cat memes and overreactions.
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02.12.2020 - 12:32
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
Written by JoHn DoE on 02.12.2020 at 12:19

I kinda understand what you say here.
Did you misspell "OK"? I didn't know it was possible.

Power Up is the first new AC/DC album I had fun listening to since Ballbreaker. Better said?

Well I mean Olimpique de Marseille
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Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
Loading...
02.12.2020 - 12:45
JoHn DoE
Written by Bad English on 02.12.2020 at 12:32

Well I mean Olimpique de Marseille


Good to know Stiff Upper Lip was Olympique Marseille. Mystery solved.
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I thought the two primary purposes for the internet were cat memes and overreactions.
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02.12.2020 - 15:57
gavdann
Written by JoHn DoE on 02.12.2020 at 12:45

Written by Bad English on 02.12.2020 at 12:32

Well I mean Olimpique de Marseille


Good to know Stiff Upper Lip was Olympique Marseille. Mystery solved.

Haha brilliant. This would make a terrific comedy skit.
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02.12.2020 - 22:37
nikarg
Mod
Written by IH8Hipsters on 01.12.2020 at 22:51

I'm a die hard fan and have been for almost 40 years now. I thought this was much better than I expected and definitely better than Rock or Bust which IMO is their worst album. I do disagree with the reviewer that the Brian Johnson era didn't produce any great AC/DC albums other than Back in Black. For Those About To Rock, Razors Edge and Ballbreaker are all elite hard rock albums IMO and some of their best work as a band.

I respect that and I find the three albums you mention, along with this latest one, the most enjoyable of the Johnson era by far. But I cannot for the love of god place them next to the Bon Scott albums. And even Back In Black is a Bon Scott album in my mind as well for obvious reasons. Rock Or Bust is undoubtedly their worst ever and I am very happy that they are ending (?) their career with an album as good and as respectable as Power Up.

Written by IH8Hipsters on 01.12.2020 at 22:51

I did love your references the the bands that were influenced (ripped off) by their riffs.

Imagine that it's just songs that immediately came to mind without searching at all and that I only wanted to mention new stuff. AC/DC are fucking legendary and extremely influential, people claiming otherwise should have their ears checked.
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03.12.2020 - 19:28
omne metallum
I think it's a fair score, I've had fun replaying it a few times but it beyond the foot tapping and head nodding it does nothing beyond that.

Gotta agree with IH8Hipsters though, Brain Johnson has done a fair few solid albums with the band; I'm pretty sure the general decline would have happend anyway had Scott not passed and was still in the band.
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Just because I'm not listening doesn't mean I don't care
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04.01.2021 - 18:43
metalbrat
Whatever written about this best seller band of 80s are true, that with fee formulaic riffs they conquered the world. Beleive me, BIB is still among my all time favs. But this album is just meh. I wanted to repeat but ended up trying only twice and I was bored. With due respect to the legends, I wont visit this again.
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In the beginning I was made of clay. Then I bit the apple and they changed me to metal 🤘
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08.01.2021 - 10:51
Tom Muller
Well it sounds like ac/dc so.....
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