After a leisurely gap between Rock or Bust and 2008’s Black Ice, the Scottish/Australian classic rock veterans are back to deliver their 16th album.
With drummer Phil Rudd facing drugs charges in New Zealand and guitarist Malcolm Young sadly sidelined with the onset of dementia, this is the first time in decades where the circumstances surrounding the making of an AC/DC album are arguably as interesting as the fact that a new record exists at all. Sadly, none of this is touched upon here, with the band instead ploughing their tried and tested route of chunky chorded riffs enlivened by Angus Young’s dextrous blues fills and song titles that generally involve adding a noun after the words “Rock N’ Roll”.
‘Baptism by Fire’ might nudge them a touch closer to the flashy riffs of Aerosmith or their eighties disciples but little else pushes them out of the groove marked “whiskey and women”. Where this leaves an AC/DC album in 2014 is a matter of personal taste; Angus and vocalist Brian Johnson are masters of delivering a known quantity with just enough of a flourish to keep you convinced that there is enough fresh juice in the AC/DC. However, hearing a 67 year old man serenade “Sweet candy” might convince you to reach for the bottle yourself.
[Max Sefton – @MaxSefton]