AC/DC’s new album rocks despite hardships

AC/DC released their 15th studio album, "Rock or Bust," Dec. 2, amidst losing a band member to dementia and another having been arrested.

AC/DC's 15th studio album, "Rock or Bust," released Dec. 2.

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story

It’s been a rough year for legendary Australian rock band AC/DC. But the Dec. 2 release of the band’s 15th studio album “Rock or Bust” should prove to be a worldwide hit.

Early in the year, AC/DC revealed that founding member and rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young would not be playing on the new album or on their 2015 world tour. The reasons behind his absence were unknown until recently, when the band revealed that Malcolm was suffering from dementia and would be replaced by his cousin, Stevie Young.

Further problems plagued the band when drummer Phil Rudd, absent in both the “Play Ball” and “Rock or Bust” music videos, was arrested for illegal possession of drugs and threatening to kill someone in New Zealand. He was also arrested for plotting to hire a hit man, but the charges were dropped because of insufficient evidence.

Despite these unfortunate circumstances, the band released “Rock or Bust,” only their third album of the 21st century. The album does not stray from the signature AC/DC sound that has been present on every one of their albums, but it does offer a different approach: the album clocks in at only 35 minutes, with the longest song reaching only three minutes and change.

The album, ranked within the top ten rock album pre-orders on iTunes, became the number one overall album on the Apple music service on release day. Target was stocked full of physical copies of the album, anticipating the biggest rock release of the year.

As soon as the first note on “Rock or Bust” begins to play, the listener will recognize it as an AC/DC song. As with their previous album, lead singer Brian Johnson’s vocals are less scratchy and more in line with the abilities that made albums “Back in Black” and “For Those About to Rock” so successful.

“Play Ball” is the album’s lead single, which debuted Oct. 7 to rock radio everywhere. Much like their last album, it has picked up airplay at Seattle’s KISW, which wasn’t too surprising. KISW was, after all, the first American station to play AC/DC in the mid-1970s.

“Dogs of War” sounds much like a “Ballbreaker” era song at first, but it quickly morphs into AC/DC’s signature early 80’s sound.  The bridge is structured differently from other AC/DC songs, and overall the song seems more commercially ready for a mainstream audience. Ironically, this song also has vocals similar to Krokus, a band criticized in the ‘80s for trying to sound like AC/DC.

The guitar parts and drums in “Baptism By Fire” are powerful and ready to knock pop music off its pedestal with hard, loud, and ugly rock n’ roll. This is the kind of track every rock fan longs for, and it is a wonder why it hasn’t been released as a promotional single for the album.

AC/DC stuck true to their word on this album, offering an eleven-song collection of nonstop hard rock with no filler. The album certainly rocked, and it didn’t dare bust.