180-gram vinyl. 2008 was a strong year for AC/DC! "Black Ice" climbed all the way to #1 on the Billboard 200 album chart. Of the 15 new songs on the album, 3 charted on the Mainstream Rock Chart. "Rock N Roll Train" chugged up to number one. "Big Jack" made it to #10, "Anything Goes" let it all hang out at #34. Toned, muscular hard rock is what AC/DC delivers come rain or shine, and this LP is no different. This 2008 pressing is on quality 180-gram vinyl. 15 songs are too much for one disc, and it is delivered as a feiry double album handsomely housed in a gatefold cover. Even the album sleeves are printed.
Such are the near-generational gaps between latter-day AC/DC albums that it's always tempting to hail the arrival of a new one as a return to form. Black Ice arrives a whopping eight years after the band's last offering, Stiff Upper Lip, but one chorus into "Rock N Roll Train", the wise man would conclude that any evolution here is as slow and incremental as, well, evolution. A punchy, straightforward opener that finds Angus Young in good riff and Brian Johnson preaching a familiar gospel of schoolgirls and schoolboys, fantasy and ecstasy, it's familiar in the best possible way. A little deeper into Black Ice, however, and there's evidence of a slightly altered approach. Producer Brendan O'Brien softens and fleshes out the stripped-down, electric blues sound AC/DC rediscovered on 1995's Ballbreaker, and in places the band follow suittake "Anything Goes", a poppy stomp that recalls O'Brien's other recent charge, Bruce Springsteen. Elsewhere, "Stormy May Day" and "Money Made" find Young taking up the slide for a few Zeppelin-flavoured licks. A few new paths, then, but all in all, the destination is pretty much the same: another solid late-period AC/DC album that, while unlikely to dislodge Back in Black from the fan's pedestal, finds its makers rocking into ripe old age. Louis Pattison