Three Maxims And You’re Out
I usually like and agree with Kitty Empire’s Album of the Week review in the Observer Magazine, and today’s is no exception, this one celebrating the signature return to a sound from which they never moved, AC/DC’s latest release Rock or Bust.
To pilfer and add to Empire’s ironic premise which is based on the quote from Heraclitus of Epheus there is no constant in the world but change, I will mention Man’s yesterday may ne’re be like his morrow/Nought may endure but mutability by PB Shelley, and what does not change/is the will to change by Charles Olson as two further axioms consigned to the embarrassment of irony when flouted by the stickingmast of AC/DC’s courageous rock-riff adherence.
Opener Rock or Bust epitomises and exemplifies [one more?] and envelopes that proven simple rock pattern to perfect effect, the four-part riff quick-strummed until the bass thuds in at a mono-note, and Johnson’s high-pitched rasp begins the ascending vocal melody. It is a classic corker.
And this is where H-of-E, PBS and CO get immediate short shrift because second Play Ball is more of the same, obviously a difference in the riff – too symptomatic to embellish it as a nuance – and the pounding places us straight back into the head bang.
Miss Adventure gets linguistically playful, but it is another in that riff-groove - this one ever-so-slightly more elaborate - and closer Emission Control deserves a mention now as another linguistic tease, albeit silly, but a chugging rhythm keeps a grip on the musical template.
There are relatively duller spots: Dogs of War is more generic than signature, the semi-thrash vocal and chorus providing a glint of Metal; Hard Times starts well enough but has quickly fallen on them; Baptism of Fire searches for that elusive original riff climb and fall, but the hot apocalypse eludes.
Rock the House, as Empire notes, soundchecks Led Zep to a degree, and the guitar/bass tandem riff supports Johnson’s Plant-esque squeeze well; Sweet Candy follows and soundchecks a Hendrix feedback intro: all masters in their own ways.
This is an album I now know better than any of their others, having listened and written about briefly when it was streamed, and since acquiring I have returned to it for loud assimilation. Having, in its steadfastness, defeated three philosophical/poetic maxims to their irrelevances, I’m guessing I don’t need to search out more.