Album: Black Ice
Release Date: October 20, 2008
I. Rock 'n Roll Train - 4:21
II. Skies On Fire - 3:34
III. Big Jack - 3:57
IV. Anything Goes - 3:22
V. War Machine - 3:09
VI. Smash N Grab - 4:06
VII. Spoilin' For A Fight - 3:17
VIII. Wheels - 3:28
IX. Decibel - 3:34
X. Stormy May Day - 3:10
XI. She Likes Rock N Roll - 3:53
XII. Money Made - 4:15
XIII. Rock N Roll Dream - 4:41
XIV. Rocking All The Way - 3:22
XV. Black Ice - 3:25
First off, I am an AC/DC nut, so my opinion is very biased, however I shall try my best to give an outside observation. Secondly, this album ROCKS! I mean shove an Ewok down your throat and chew it awesome!... There, now that I've had my say let's get down to the basics. Black Ice is a bit of a new venture and evolution in the sound of AC/DC as a band. It's not a big step, but a small one, gradual enough that the casual listener might not catch it. Some of the songs on this album don't have that traditional ballsy feel that Angus and Malcom tend to churn out. And on top of that, Brian Johnson's vocals give a bit of variety as well, plus there is a lot more back up singing than usual which gives the songs a nice, fuller, richer sound. Now for the track-by-track breakdown...
Rock 'n Roll Train - the first single released off the album and truly one of the best off it. The guitar riff has a nice hook and the lyrics are catchy. Yet interestingly enough "Rock 'n Roll Train" is never actually sung in the song. Why they didn't call it "Runaway Train", I have no idea. The backup vocals for the chorus really help drive it home as a great rock song.
Skies On Fire - a slightly different guitar sound than usual and Brian gives a little extra in the vocals. The chorus is more plain but it has a nice apocalyptic sound to it. Overall this song isn't bad but it could have been a little better as it does tend to drone on a little.
Big Jack - another catchy guitar riff with a great chorus. Big Jack is definitely classic AC/DC with a sound reminiscent of the Razor's Edge album. Where Skies on Fire is more serious, this one provides a fun, upbeat tune.
Anything Goes - this one is a first for AC/DC. Of all the songs they've ever done (besides Ride On which has more of ballad feel to it) this is the first 'soft' song. The sound isn't their typical upbeat riff or shadowy rumble, instead it almost sounds, dare I say it, mainstream. I give this one points for being unique and a new sound for the band.
War Machine - this one comes right out of the box and you just know that it's greatness. The sound and the lyrics come together for a top notch song worthy of radio play. I'd even go so far as to say that this one is worthy of being on their top ten list of all AC/DC songs. Who knows, they could even use it in Iron Man 2 if they bring in War Machine (the silver armor)...
Smash N Grab - this one has an anthem feel to it that you can get behind, it's even fitting for the times, in fact the name says it all: Smash...grab...take it. The chorus delivers this one to a higher standing from some of the others.
Spoilin' For A Fight - good guitar, cool catch phrase, and nice beat makes this one a keeper. The lyrics aren't very deep but then again that's never really happened in an AC/DC song. It provides just the right mix and gives just enough to provide listening enjoyment.
Wheels - I like the sound of this song. Angus and Malcom play a nice back and forth tune and Brian delivers for the vocals without droning them out. I can't decide whether they wrote this one about race cars (cause both Brian and Phil are into racing) or about women. Probably both.
Decibel - alright, this is the first song that just doesn't really make the cut. The material for the lyrics ain't much and the guitar sound isn't that great. Perhaps they should've rethought this one and made it Jezebel instead.
Stormy May Day - this is my second pick of the album. Angus throws it up with a guitar riff that harkens back to the Flick of the Switch album. Probably the best guitar playing out of all the songs but also the shortest song. Brian does a stand up job with the vocals delivering the twisty chorus with a good melody.
She Likes Rock N Roll - this song was almost good. The guitar riffs sound good, most of the lyrics have a fine sound, and at one point they throw in a nice little vocal change up that some shebs. But the chorus stinks. It just sounds bland. I still up on the fence on whether the rest of the song can defeat the mediocre chorus, maybe it'll grow on me.
Money Made - rolls right out with the chorus and this time they score. Yet the sound is familiar, just not for them. Regardless, I like it and think it's a fine addition to their repertoire. A song for the working man or anyone with a job. The name might make you think of Money Talks but it's a whole 'nother beast.
Rock N Roll Dream - this song is a change up from the upbeat anthem sound of Money Made. Instead it goes for the ballad. In fact I haven't heard an AC/DC song this deep since Spellbound. This one has an emotional resonance that you don't get often from them. Definitely stands out from the rest and in a good way.
Rocking All The Way - another fun song with a great sound. It starts out quiet and cool with Brian delivering the lyrics and the guitar stewing in the background then sets into a jammin' chorus. By the end of the song Brian and Angus are plowing full out with overlapping guitar and vocals.
Black Ice - the namesake of the album and one of their darker songs. The guitar has a sound similar to Ballbreaker's Furor. It's an edgy, somber tone that's only further emphasized by some of the lyrics, most notable when Brian sings "I'll gouge your eyes out." Not sure what black ice is, at least in reference to this song, but this isn't catchy upbeat stuff. Instead they end the album with a dark, even violent, beat that leaves you wondering what's in store for the future.
Overall you can't beat this album for 12 bucks and 15 songs. It's not AC/DC's best album, but it is the most varied set of songs they've ever put out and step out of the box. Wal-mart has got the exclusive selling rights so you'll have to go there to get it. As for me, I'm waiting patiently with my concert tickets for when they come to town. If they pick the cream of the crop off the album to perform live, it's going to be one of the best concerts ever.