On November 13, 2020, "AC/DC" released their 17th studio album - "Power Up".
The band that was responsible for the biggest comeback in rock history 40 years earlier, with "Back In Black", hits again with another tremendous comeback that marked the return of singer Brian Johnson, as well as drummer Phil Rudd and bassist Cliff Williams.
As well known, the troubles and tragedies kept falling upon the band and the sequence was unbearable. In 2015 drummer Phil Rudd was replaced amid a "Rock or Bust" tour after being accused of drug possession and death threats. In 2016 lead singer Brian Johnson was forced to stop performing in the middle of the band's tour, after experiencing severe hearing loss that threatened to deafen him and he was replaced by Axl Rose. Bassist Cliff Williams also retired from the band in 2016 after completing the "Rock or Bust" tour. In 2017 Malcolm Young who suffered from dementia succumbed to the disease and with the loss of the "living spirit" behind the band, we were sure "AC/DC" would cease to exist.
However, Brian Johnson discovered state-of-the-art hearing aids that allowed him to sing with the band again even at the tremendous volume levels on stage. Williams and Rudd were "called to the flag" and immediately returned, and Malcolm Young's place on rhythm guitar was filled by his nephew Stevie Young, who had already filled Malcolm's place in the band's 1988 tour of the US and from 2014 did so again. The combination of all these events brought the band back in full force, while the family atmosphere that faded a bit with Malcolm's death was strengthened. That is why the release of this album for us deserves to be listed as one of the greatest comebacks in history, alongside the previous 1980 comeback. If you will, the younger and "red" brother of "The Black Phoenix" (that's what we called the huge comeback of the album "Back In Black").
This is the band's 17th album and the first in 6 years since the excellent "Rock or Bust". "Power Up" is entirely dedicated to guitarist Malcolm Young, who passed away in 2017, and here too we see a kind of resemblance to the previous comeback, with "Back In Black" dedicated to vocalist Bon Scott. The album is laden with Malcolm's rock and roll spirit and features songs written by him. In fact, each of the 12 songs on the album was co-written by Malcolm in collaboration with his brother Angus Young, and they were drawn from their vast stock of riffs and ideas that the band built over the decades it has been active.
This album is without a doubt the band's best in the current millennium, and maybe we would even stretch it for another decade. The songs are well written and some of them could have stood even on one front with the band's big hits from the seventies and eighties. They've bouncing, they're sweeping, noisy and dirty as we love so much with this band. The production is one of the best we've heard from the band in recent years and here we have another similarity for "Back In Black" and its superb production.
5 amazing singles have been released from the album, but we can tell you that they are definitely not the only great songs on the album.
The first single released on October 7, 2021 album "Shot in the Dark", shows us exactly the same familiar and beloved sound that has not really changed in almost five decades. We've talked and written about it quite a bit before. The genius of this band is simplicity. It's one of the only bands we know that has not evolved over the years, has not really changed the sound and style, and yet succeeds in every song to make us shake our heads and move our bodies in the frenzy of a stupid teenager.
The second single "Realize" released on November 11, 2021, will make you raise your fists in the air from its very first second. What a simple and amazing riff from Angus that occasionally doubles it to make it sound as if his Gibson SG is turning into a machine gun. What an amazing voice Johnson has, he came back in a big way and sounds just like in the good old days 40 years ago. He leads the song with a high hand while Williams and Rudd hold the stunning rhythm of the track.
The third single "Demon Fire" opens with Rudd's beating on the hi-hat and takes us 40 years back to the album and the song "Back In Black", but then the tempo on the cymbal doubles, the deep and low voice comes in and for a moment we did not realize it was Johnson at all. This song presents one of the coolest "AC/DC" riffs, what a sweeping rhythm and what a cool groove that brought us flashbacks from "Whole Lotta Rosie".
This single was later followed by "Witch's Spell" whose "hybrid picking" opening threw us straight into the warm arms of "For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)". Although the chorus of the song is one of the catchiest on the album, we think there are much stronger songs on this album that would have worked better as successful singles, but this is exactly the proof of why this album is just awesome.
The latest single released from the album "Through The Mists Of Time", already proves to us that the selection of songs to be released as singles was apparently aimed at diversity. It's an exciting Mid-Pace song in which the band looks back on the beautiful moments passed together, from the time when everyone was young and energetic to the present day, while acknowledging the reality that imposes on us the inevitable passage of time. Angus Young wrote the lyrics and singer Brian Johnson noted that when he recorded the song a shiver went through his body. He thought of Malcolm and noted in one of the interviews that he still sees him in his mind every time he hears this song playing.
As we mentioned, this album is far beyond the five singles released from it and is one of the band's greatest in recent decades.