There is something quaintly reassuring about the song titles on “Rock or Bust,” AC/DC’s first new album in six years. (It is also, sadly, the first without the playing of ailing founding guitarist Malcolm Young, who, however, contributed as a co-writer.)
“Got Some Rock and Roll Thunder,” “Rock the Blues Away, “Rock the House,” and the rest send a very clear signal: AC/DC is not reinventing the wheel.
And why should they when, even in occasional — OK frequent — redundancy, the group still reliably produces some of the most head-bangingly, fist-pumpingly enjoyable hard rock ever.
With Malcolm and lead guitarist Angus Young’s nephew Stevie stepping in and producer Brendan O’Brien taking a fan’s approach and letting the band, including lead singer Brian Johnson (above), do what it does best, “Rock or Bust” is a solid, if short, sharp shock. (Drummer Phil Rudd’s recent legal troubles may imperil his future with AC/DC, but here he lays down a strong beat.)
While many of the rhymes are predictable and the topics come from a shallow pool — rocking, partying with friends, delighting in giggly innuendo, and, in the case of “Dogs of War,” generic images of combat that sound like video-game soundtrack fodder — “Rock or Bust” reminds us that in an ever-changing world, AC/DC being AC/DC is something we can count on. (Out now)
ESSENTIAL “Dogs of War”