Album Review – AC/DC / PWRϟUP (2020)

The greatest Hard rock band of all time returns after the most turbulent period in their career with a brand new (and absolutely powered up) album as a tribute to the deceased Malcom Young.

“This record is pretty much a dedication to Malcolm, my brother. It’s a tribute for him like Back in Black was a tribute to Bon Scott.” – Angus Young, on PWRϟUP

Following the not-so-good 2014 album Rock or Bust and several internal issues with the band, including the passing of co-founder and rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young in 2017, Australian Hard Rock titans AC/DC seem to be back on track after such turbulent period in their career with the excellent PWRϟUP, also known as Power Up (or even PWR/UP if you prefer), their sixteenth internationally released studio album and the seventeenth to be released in Australia. Featuring a minimalist but sharp artwork by renowned London, UK-based CG artist Ben Ib, and with every track being credited to the band’s masterminds Angus and Malcolm Young (as Angus raided the AC/DC vault of unreleased songs to record the album), PWRϟUP not only marks the return of vocalist Brian Johnson, drummer Phil Rudd and bassist Cliff Williams, all of whom left AC/DC before, during or after the supporting tour for their previous album, rejoining Angus and his other brother Stevie Young on rhythm guitar, but it’s also their first album since 1985’s Fly on the Wall to not include a track containing the word “rock” in the title and the first album since 1988’s Blow Up Your Video to not include a title-track.

As soon as the opening track Realize begins, you already know it’s classic AC/DC right from Angus’ very first note, or in other words, a good old Rock N’ Roll tune perfect for hitting the road where Phil is precise as usual on drums. Moreover,  it’s indeed a true pleasure seeing Brian back where he belongs, which is also the case in Rejection, slightly slower but just as electrifying as the opening tune, a song that will please all fans of the band for sure showcasing Angus and Stevie in perfect sync, not to mention the spot-on, old school backing vocals by Stevie and Cliff. Then we have Shot in the Dark, the AC/DC we’ve all been waiting for, going straight to the point with no shenanigans nor any artificial elements. Needless to say, Angus is once again flawless with his unique riffs and solos throughout the entire song, whereas Through the Mists of Time will take you on a journey back to the 80’s, led by Brian’s trademark raspy vocals and Phil’s steady beats. Put differently, don’t listen to it at home, but only in your car on your favorite highway, alright? Anyway, in the beautifully titled Kick You When You’re Down the music keeps up with what it “promises” in the song’s name, bringing to our ears the strident riffage by Angus and Stevie supported by the heavy kitchen by Cliff and Phil; and sounding like it was taken from one of their classic albums, Witch’s Spell is an amazing tune where Brian is yet again a beast on vocals, while Angus makes sure we keep banging our heads and raising our horns in the name of Hard Rock and Rock N’ Roll.

Speeding things up and turning up the heat, AC/DC offer our avid ears the electrifying Demon Fire, the epitome of their undisputed Rock N’ Roll that will make your hearts beat faster during their live performances while Angus mesmerizes us as usual with his devilish riffage. In Wild Reputation they get back to a more classic sonority, with all band members providing Brian exactly what he needs to deliver more of his unique vocals, followed by No Man’s Land, by far the weakest of all songs in Power Up. It’s still classic AC/DC with some Southern Rock influences, but it gets tiresome and falls flat after a while, with not even Angus being inspired in this case. Systems Down offers our ears another round of their trademark riffs, beats and truck driver-inspired vocals, keeping the album at a very good level of adrenaline (albeit not as awesome as the rest of the album), not to mention how effective the backing vocals are in supporting Brian, while the second to last explosion of Rock N’ Roll by Brian, Angus & Co. comes in the form of Money Shot, where Angus is not only amazing with his riffs, but his solo is also mesmerizing, and with Cliff bringing his dosage of groove through his wicked bass lines. Lastly, presenting a darker and more badass sound, Code Red is a great option for banging our heads nonstop together with Angus while he slashes his guitar in great fashion, resulting in a beer-drinking tune that puts a rockin’ ending to such old school album.

If you’re a longtime fan of AC/DC, you can go ahead and purchase your favorite copy of the album by clicking HERE or HERE without even listening to a single song from it, but in case you want to do a test-drive before making a decision you can stream PWRϟUP in full on YouTube and on Spotify, also keeping updated will all things AC/DC on Facebook and on Instagram, and listening to more of their undisputed rock music on YouTube and on Spotify. Most bands wouldn’t survive such dark times experienced by AC/DC since 2014, but who are we to question the power of the riff by Mr. Angus Young? I have absolutely no idea if PWRϟUP will be their last album ever, if Angus had to release it in the memory of his deceased brother before calling it quits, or if it’s just the beginning of a new era for the band. All I know is that PWRϟUP rocks, and if that’s by any chance their farewell studio album, let’s say Angus and the boys are going down in style, making Malcom really proud of his family wherever he might be.

Best moments of the album: Realize, Shot in the Dark, Witch’s Spell and Demon Fire.

Worst moments of the album: No Man’s Land and Systems Down.

Released in 2020 Sony Music

Track listing
1. Realize 3:37
2. Rejection 4:06
3. Shot in the Dark 3:06
4. Through the Mists of Time 3:32
5. Kick You When You’re Down 3:10
6. Witch’s Spell 3:42
7. Demon Fire 3:30
8. Wild Reputation 2:54
9. No Man’s Land 3:39
10. Systems Down 3:12
11. Money Shot 3:05
12. Code Red 3:31

Band members
Brian Johnson – lead vocals
Angus Young – lead guitar
Stevie Young – rhythm guitar, backing vocals
Cliff Williams – bass guitar, backing vocals
Phil Rudd – drums, percussion

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