Rating: * * *
The tempting challenge with a new AC/DC album is to try and nut out how it's different from all the rest. However, let it go because if after 15 albums you still haven't figured out not to bother trying to work out one of life's great conundrums then you deserve a sound thrashing with Angus Young's school satchel.
There is nothing different here, although it has to be said the band which formed in Sydney in 1973 are never likely to match the electrifying power and rebellious rock'n'roll of classics like High Voltage, Dirty Deeds... and Highway To Hell, from the Bon Scott era, and 1980's Back In Black, the last truly great AC/DC record.
Black Ice, the first Acca Dacca album since 2000's Stiff Upper Lip, is exactly what you would expect and as the band's string of sold out shows starting in February is testament to, that's what the fans want.
It's always been about power, volume, and fist-punching riffs, with some one-legged hops and guitar hero jumps thrown in. However, on Black Ice is the band finally starting to show its ample age (Angus is 53 now?) On songs like Skies On Fire and Anything Goes they lumber rather than lurch and instead of sounding primal and gutsy they come across as hard rock a la Jimmy Barnes (without the Cold Chisel).
While the slow scorching blues of Decibel and Stormy May Day adds some stomp and variety, Money Made is a workmanlike plodder and then there's the silly Aerosmith style She Likes Rock'n'Roll. Maybe if she loved rock'n'roll it would be a different story?
Then again, on the all-in, throaty growl of War Machine's chorus and the swinging staunchness of the title track, that old familiar, beer bottle-waving feeling overtakes you and punching the air never felt so good.
It's no use telling AC/DC what to do but just imagine how tight Black Ice could have been if they'd knocked it back to 10 songs? Lean and mean, that's what it would have been.