AC/DC – Rock or Bust (2014) – Review

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Back to the future! This is what comes to mind when listening to this newest concoction of our favorite rockers from AC/DC from down under. Similar to other albums, this really starts to sound like some Krokus production gone to Australia – some Hoodoo right there.

Cookie-cutter style, nicely built and very solid Hard Rock of the Heavy Metal kind, with down-to-earth riffs. Of which some of them seem to have matured some more since we last heard them in a studio album back in 2008.

Rock or Bust is nothing more than your usual AC/DC holiday turkey with some gravy. Well cooked, no hard edges, no sharp points. Just your mainstream, politically correct US American brand of bad-boy music, which is not so bad anymore and for sure not very scary. Are you going soft on me, boys? Whatever happened to the outback spirit?

This is the first album without Malcolm Young, who fell gravely ill and could not continue his career as a guitarist for this band. This is indeed a big blow for the band and fans alike. He has been my companion of sorts throughout my music listening years. Which feels like – forever.

And there has been some spicy drama in the run-up to the release of the album in 2014. Phil Rudd – the drummer – landed in jail on some insalubrious details of his private life. So, there definitely remains some serious ‘bad boy’ in some of them. But not something you want to repeat at home. If you’d like to find out more, have a read in the press. Rolling Stone comes to mind. Rumors have it that Rudd may not be part of the tour lineup that is to be announced at the time of writing this review. Yet the band allegedly stated that this is not due to his bad-boy image. But in relation to unreliability issues.

Yeah, right!

The man himself was still determined to go on tour in 2015. Well, he was fired once before from this band back in 1983. History always tends to repeat itself, methinks.

The album perfectly fits right into the long line of records produced by this band until now. And it is trademark AC/DC, so much so that they threw all surprises overboard. And make no mistake, Rock or Bust has – driven by past glories – reaped good ratings on billboards across the globe. It opened at the pole position in many countries – and the band WILL fill their music halls to the brim again and again. The fruits of a long and illustrious past. 

At roughly 35 minutes of air time, this is probably the shortest production ever to hit the fan community. Fortunately, there are no fillers in there, as we had to find them in other albums. So, this means that there cannot be that many duds or the quality of the album will suffer greatly.

Rock or Bust (the title song) and Play Ball are reasonable opening shots, albeit not something getting you honking to the tune in your car. After that, you will find Hard Rock, but only Hard Rock, nothing rockier and more exciting or juicy.

Only just towards the end in Rock the House do they get a little more adventurous. And more in line with their 2008 production Black Ice, throwing in some elements that seem to come straight from Led Zeppelin. Kind of the stuff these guys produced back in the ’70s. The following track Sweet Candy is also noteworthy. And why they did not place these two tracks more to the front, I shall never know.

Politically correct, no surprise allowed, and whitewashed American-style Hard Rock. This is how Rock or Bust comes across. And it is really far away from their stellar record Back in Black from 1980, which still takes my breath away after all these years.

So, if you like your Hard Rock sandwich without too much messy hot sauce (of the runny nose kind), then this is your album to enjoy! We messier guys continue to look forward to the band’s next production. Hopefully a bit grimier and of the scary kind like grumpy old men – ahem – wise and matured rockers ought to be.

Record Rating: 5/10 | Label: Columbia | Web: Official Site
Release date: 28 November 2014

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