AC/DC, ‘Power Up’ Review – Track-by-Track Review of New Album

2020-11-10

Review: AC/DC are back with their new album, "Power Up," which features the band's traditional sound. Here's Audio Ink's track-by-track review of the album.

AC/DC album cover – Review by Anne Erickson

Review: AC/DC are back with their new album, “Power Up,” which is choc full of the band’s traditional riffs, rhythms and melodies. Here’s Audio Ink’s track-by-track review of the album.

AC/DC are back with the surviving members of their “Back in Black” lineup — Angus Young, Brian Johnson, Cliff Williams and Phil Rudd — and by the sound of their 17th studio album, “Power Up,” out Friday (Nov. 13), they’re starting right where they left off.

The album, which also features Stevie Young on rhythm guitar, sounds like classic AC/DC, with big, thick guitars, chugging rhythms and Brian Johnson’s raw, wailing vocals. From top to bottom, AC/DC stick to what they’re known for best– meat-and-potatoes rock ‘n’ roll, with the extra flair and color that defines their sound.

AC/DC ‘Power Up’ Track-By-Track Look

Just a few seconds into opening track “Realize” off “Power Up,” the band delivers the heavy, hard rock sound for which their known, with Johnson singing, “The moment you realize / Those moments just pass you by/ Gonna take you to paradise,” as Angus’ guitars build. “Realize” sets the listener up with a good idea of what to expect from the rest of “Power Up.”

“Rejection” follows, with a bouncy, party-happy rhythm section and very catchy guitar riff. This is a rock anthem that begs the listener to sing along. It would make a good second single, following “Shot in the Dark,” the album’s first single.

Speaking of the lead single, “Shot in the Dark” follows. The track is the most identifiable AC/DC song, which is a good reason why it’s the first bit of music the band released off “Power Up.” Johnson sings, “I need a pick me up
A rollin’ thunder truck / I need a shot of you / That tattooed lady wild,” as Angus’ guitar follows along with a special groove.

“Through the Mists of Time” comes next, bringing a more laid-back beat and vibe than the other tracks on “Power Up.” That said, as the song progresses, it builds, starting with a stark rhythm and evolving into a glorious melody and catchy chorus.

“Kick You When You’re Down” is the most blues-based track off “Power Up,” with blues-y riffs and licks that have the listener bopping their head back and forth. It’s a fun, playful song with a chanting chorus, which seems perfect to crank through the jukebox at a country bar right before closing.

One of the best songs off “Power Up” follows, a hard rock anthem called “Witch’s Spell.” This is simply a classic AC/DC song, with Angus’ walking riffs, Johnson’s powerful, raspy vocals and a solid rhythm section that bring the sound together in a beautiful rock ‘n’ roll package.

Following “Witch’s Spell,” it’s “Demon Fire,” with is an incredibly energetic and wild-sounding track. Johnson shows off a lower range to start off the song and seems to have fun with his different vocal tones, as Angus delivers blues-based riffs and Rudd and Williams deliver a super upbeat rhythm section.

“Wild Reputation” opens with some cool low-end sounds and slowly evolves into a full AC/DC rock song. With laid-back rhythms and vocals, it’s one of the most mellow songs off “Power Up,” offering a little relaxation after the previous, hard-hitting rockers on the album.

The album continues with “No Man’s Land,” another more mellow-sounding song off the set. This song delivers a hint of a Southern rock vibe, with a twang to the guitars and a unique, Southern-sounding vocal style. If there’s one song off “Power Up” to fit on a country playlist, it’s “No Man’s Land.”

As the album starts to near its finish, “System Down” kicks in, with a very traditional AC/DC dynamic of Johnson’s howling vocals and Angus’ overzealous guitars. With a sing-along chorus and very catchy melody, “System Down” would make another good AC/DC radio single.

“Money Shot” follows, offering a simple rock ‘n’ roll song of steady, bouncy rhythms and Johnson’s sharp croon. The song also features a brief, fiery guitar solo from Angus, which is a highlight of the album.

“Code Red,” the final song off “Power Up,” leaves the listener with an impression. The dance-happy rhythm section couples with strong melodies from Johnson, Angus and Stevie, ending “Power Up” with an upbeat, hopeful rock vibe.

From start to finish, it’s apparent just how much AC/DC stuck to their traditional, straight-ahead rock roots on “Power Up,” which is a good thing. After all, your roots are always your roots. “Power Up” lives up to the hype, delivering the album AC/DC fans have been hoping to hear since 2014’s “Rock or Bust.” It’s a perfect tribute to late, great AC/DC member Malcolm Young.

Ink rating: 9/10. Essential songs: “Money Shot,” “Shot in the Dark,” “Realize,” “Code Red.” For fans of: That classic AC/DC sound and style, with meat-and-potatoes riffs and rhythms. Online: ACDC.com.

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