Album Review – AC/DC / Rock or Bust (2014)

The shortest and one of the least inspired albums by the greatest Hard Rock band of all time.

Rating6

acdc-rock-or-bust-artworkFinally, here we are with the brand new studio album by Australian Hard Rock icons AC/DC, entitled Rock or Bust, the first since the superb Black Ice (2008) and the shortest studio album ever released by the band, even shorter than Flick of the Switch (1983). Not only that, it is their first release without founding member and rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young, who left the band in 2014 for health reasons (he was officially diagnosed with dementia), being replaced by his nephew Stevie Young, and there are also the issues drummer Phil Rudd is still facing with the law accused for procuring the murder of two men and possession of illegal drugs.

However, if there’s a clear surplus of non-music material in Rock or Bust, unfortunately there’s a significant shortfall of Rock N’ Roll itself. I’m not saying Rock or Bust is garbage, but it’s a billion light-years away from what this incredible band is capable of doing. When the other members of AC/DC said all their issues with Malcolm and Phil wouldn’t prevent them from releasing this album and going on a world tour, it makes me wonder if Rock or Bust was just released as an excuse to make tons of money playing their same old classics in sold-out arenas worldwide. I hope not, but that’s the impression I got after listening to this middling album.

When the opening song of the album begins, the title-track Rock or Bust, you need just one note to recognize it’s AC/DC. Moreover, albeit being less inspired than most of their songs from their latest records, its 100% AC/DC chorus (“In rock we trust / It’s rock or bust”) and of course the “magic” crafted by Angus Young help making it an enjoyable track. Pretty much the same can be said about the good Play Ball and its catchy and traditional rhythm, and it would have been so much more fun if AC/DC were selected to play this song during the  halftime show on the next Super Bowl instead of the beautiful but extremely tedious Katy Perry.

Rock the Blues Away is a very generic song, especially its riffs: we’ve listened to the same stuff a billion times before, but at least there was more inspiration and energy in older songs. Anyway, I believe hardcore fans will love it mainly due to its lyrics. Miss Adventure sounds a little different than usual, with its bass lines being a lot more audible (it looks like this is a worldwide trend in music), and despite its lyrics being too repetitive that doesn’t affect the song negatively. In the average Dogs of War, the intro is one of those things fans will truly love to see live, but unfortunately after that the song gets back to the same “I’ve seen it before” level from the previous tracks.

acdcGot Some Rock & Roll Thunder is another very traditional track, but this time a lot more consistent and exciting, and again the riffs and solos by Angus are always so good and soulful it’s impossible not to get thrilled with his performance. On the other hand, I really don’t know what to say about Hard Times except that it is very repetitive and tiring, with even Brian Johnson’s voice sounding totally flavorless. At least the faster and more melodic Baptism by Fire lives up to the band’s tradition in Hard Rock. It’s not a classic, but a lot better than almost all songs in this album, with highlights to its sing-along lyrics and a great performance by the duo Brian/Angus.

The last part of the album is so flat and mediocre you will probably skip all those songs and get back to the start: Rock the House intends to be a Rock N’ Roll pub song, but it’s again too generic and its chorus lacks that amazing punch AC/DC usually provide us, while Sweet Candy (what a boring name for an AC/DC song, by the way) is totally disposable in its 3 minutes of pure repetitiousness. Not even Angus was capable of saving this song from being a total disaster. Lastly, I got really excited with the first five seconds of Emission Control, but then one more time it all went back to boredom with really lazy riffs, drums, vocals and everything else. And when this song is over, you feel there’s something missing in Rock or Bust, and that’s real Rock N’ Roll.

Before you come screaming at me things like “Hey, but that’s AC/DC! They don’t need to change to be awesome!”, let me tell you that I agree 100% with that. More of the same can be amazing, just take a listen at Motörhead’s Aftershock, one of the most badass and incredible albums of 2013, or even to AC/DC’s previous installment, Black Ice, where there isn’t a single song that is not worth listening to so epic that album is. The main issue in Rock or Bust is the total lack of electricity, that special element which makes AC/DC so fuckin’ awesome even playing the exact same type of music for over 40 years. They still rock, especially live, but this album is definitely a “bust”.

Best moments of the album: Play Ball, Got Some Rock & Roll Thunder and Baptism by Fire.

Worst moments of the album: Hard Times, Rock the House and Sweet Candy.

Released in 2014 Albert/Columbia

Track listing
1. Rock or Bust 3:04
2. Play Ball 2:47
3. Rock the Blues Away 3:24
4. Miss Adventure 2:57
5. Dogs of War 3:35
6. Got Some Rock & Roll Thunder 3:22
7. Hard Times 2:44
8. Baptism by Fire 3:30
9. Rock the House 2:42
10. Sweet Candy 3:09
11. Emission Control 3:41

Band members
Brian Johnson – lead vocals
Angus Young – lead guitar, backing vocals on “Dogs of War”
Stevie Young – rhythm guitar, backing vocals
Cliff Williams – bass guitar, backing vocals
Phil Rudd – drums, percussion

Beverage Review – AC/DC Premium Lager Beer

Australian Hard Rock icons are back in “beer”, although not as good as expected.

Rating7

IMG_1641For the sake of heavy music, Australian Hard Rock gods AC/DC are not going to retire as many websites and newspapers like the National Post and Billboard said a few weeks ago. Those were only false rumors promptly denied by the band itself, which means we can keep enjoying AC/DC’s unparalleled music legacy without worrying (at least for now) about the band breaking up. However, just as many other huge heavy music icons in the world, such as Iron Maiden, Motörhead, KISS, among others, Angus Young & Co. are investing in other sources of income or alternatives for the gigantic tumble all physical album sales and even part of digital sales have been suffering in the past decade due to illegal downloads.

Thus, one of the most explored markets by all of those bands, including AC/DC, is the alcoholic beverage industry, and among the AC/DC beverages we have the AC/DC Premium Lager Beer. The band’s motto for their beer is “Australian Rock meets German beer”, and according to their website, “If you wanna rock hard, you need the right beer. AC/DC, the infamous Hardrock Legends from down under, have been delivering true rock for the last 40 years. Now they give their name for true pint-sized Australian taste as well.” In addition, the information AC/DC provides about their beer is that “AC/DC Premium Lager Beer is 568mL of true German Premium Lager with mouthwatering 5.0% alc. This lager fires up your tongue like TNT, comes with a great beer-loving taste and is brewed in accordance with the Rock`n Roll manifesto of 1973 and the German purity law of 1516.”

The only problem is that, besides those powerful words and the beauty of the can, nothing else really stands out when you actually taste the beer. It’s just an average golden color beer with a tiny white head that doesn’t last for too long, and a not very exciting malt taste with hints of grassy hops. The aroma of corn and grains is not bad, but it’s not as good as many other lagers in the market, and also the beer tends to become too watery after a while if you don’t drink it fast. I know this happens with many other beers, but believe me, with the AC/DC one this “process” is extremely fast, and if you are a head lover you’ll probably hate this beer.

One thing that really bothered me after drinking the AC/DC beer was the unpleasant bitterness in the aftertaste. I enjoy drinking all types of beer, including some very bitter ones once in a while, but if the beer leaves that strong bitter taste after you’re done with it, then it’s an issue for me. I’m not sure why they called a beer that leaves such an unpleasant taste in your mouth a “German premium lager”, because I’ve never tasted a premium beer with that negative characteristic. And that’s what will probably disappoint all AC/DC diehard fans the most: the fact that a beer that’s being sold as “Australian Rock” with “German beer” feels more like a rip-off marketing strategy than something natural and honest. How can it be German if it’s brewed in France? I’m far from being a beer connoiseur, but that disparity between countries doesn’t make much sense to me.

IMG_1644Anyway, if you’re still interested in trying it, the AC/DC beer is available in Austria, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Germany, Luxembourg, Romania, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and probably in some other countries not listed, like Australia, Italy and France. By the way, why is it not listed as available in their home country (Australia) and in the country of production (France)? There’s either something missing from their official website, or their distribution strategy is one of the weirdest and most incomplete things I’ve ever seen in my entire life.

You can go to their “Dealer” section on the official website and search for a dealer where you can buy some AC/DC beer, and if you live in Canada it’s available at The Beer Store, just browse by location to find the nearest store to where you live, and you can also check the list of all other beers available in each store.

To sum up, although we’re talking about one of the biggest Rock N’ Roll bands in the history of mankind, their beer is just average and worth just a single try, nothing more than that. If I were you, as a Heavy Metal fan, I would go for a Trooper Beer, which is a lot more tasty and well-crafted than the AC/DC one, and the price is not that much higher. Unfortunately, the AC/DC Premium Lager will not shake you all night long. At least not in a good way.

Beer details
Category: Imported
Attributes: Light
Type: Lager
Country: France
Brewer: Brasserie Licorne Sas
Alcohol Content (ABV): 5.0%
Price: CAD$ 2.25 (1 × Can 500 ml)

The Walking Dead Review – Episode 416: A

It doesn’t matter if you’re a marauder or even a cannibal, always remember not to mess with Sheriff Rick Grimes.

***WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS***

If you haven’t seen A yet, I suggest you scroll down to the end of this post first and watch the entire episode before reading the rest of the text.

twd416_01So AMC’s The Walking Dead season 4 is finally over and, after all those flashbacks, introspective moments and just a few minutes of sheer violence (I was expecting a lot more of that, based on what the producers of the show were promising) in the last episode, curiously named only “A”, all fans will have to wait until October to get some extra doses of brutality and lots of answers for many things that were not explained at all, such as where Beth, Carol, Tyreese and Judith are, who will die on the hands of the people at Terminus, and how Rick and the others will escape from that nightmare.

I must admit the first five minutes were awesome, with that flashback showing our beloved hero Hershel back in the day where the prison was still a safe place, always helping everyone with his words of wisdom, and Rick was trying to be more human in order to become a better father, and then Rick covered in blood a totally away from reality. How did Rick reach that point? When did he snap and why? All that tension and mystery already put “A” well above most of the episodes from the second half of season 4, but unfortunately that didn’t last as long as we were all eagerly waiting for.

Of course, that sequence where Joe and his gang finally find Rick, Michonne and Carl, and the vision of Carl almost being raped by one of the marauders turning Rick into a merciless wild beast, was simply amazing. Our sheriff ripping Joe’s throat with his own teeth, like if he was some type of “alive zombie”, was awesome and showed why he and Carl have survived the apocalypse up to now and, of course, proved once again why the walkers are the least dangerous of all their problems. Rick almost surpassed Stallone ripping a guy’s throat with his own hand in the last Rambo movie in terms of bestiality, but let’s admit it’s pretty hard to be more violent and reckless than Mr. John Rambo.

Anyway, as I said, that scene was too short and Rick, Carl, Daryl and Michonne started the last part of their journey to Terminus. That bite surely turned Rick into a different person, and his survival instincts are now stronger than ever, which could be easily seen in each and every moment before and when the group reached the “sanctuary for all”: he left a bag full of weapons outside Terminus (which will most likely be their salvation next season), and he didn’t seem to trust any of the people there, especially this new guy, Gareth. Well, he was more than right, because when creepy Mary and Gareth offer them some food, Rick sees those strangers wearing Maggie’s poncho and Glenn’s vest and watch, and he then realizes that’s no sanctuary at all.

twd416_02But the worst was still to come, when amidst all the shooting Rick notices they were aiming at their feet and that they were not trying to kill them. Do you want to know why? Just think about the meat that Mary was serving them before and you’ll get it (and probably will be disgusted by that). They end up being caught by Gareth and the others members of that dreadful cult and sent to a train wagon, where not surprisingly they reunite with Glenn, Maggie, Bob and Sasha, and get to know Sgt. Abraham Ford, Eugene and Rosita.

And to end this season in a very exciting way, badass Rick doesn’t seem worried at all with the fact that they’re about to become Gareth and his bunch of cannibals’ afternoon snack. “They’re screwing with the wrong people.”, our sheriff said. Any doubts about that?

And this will be the last review about The Walking Dead on this website. Not because the show is not good anymore (it’s still awesome), but because the focus will be exclusively Heavy Metal and Hard Rock. So unless Rick starts listening to AC/DC during his fights against zombies and other humans in the following seasons, like Andrew Lincoln said he does prior to shooting some of his scenes, that’s all, folks.

A (FULL EPISODE)

Album Review – Halestorm / ReAniMate 2.0: The CoVeRs eP (2013)

Why instead of launching two EPs with cover songs in less than two years didn’t they launch only one full album?

Rating6

ReAniMate 2.0I’m not a fan of Halestorm nor will ever buy any of their albums, but when I saw they launched another covers EP which included one of my favorite Priest tracks of all time, Dissident Aggressor, I decided to give them a try. In 2011 they launched ReAniMate: The CoVeRs eP with cover versions for Slave To The Grind (Skid Row) and Out Ta Get Me (Guns N’ Roses), among others, and now they come up with another covers EP. This either means that they simply love playing songs from their biggest influences, or that they don’t trust their own music that much, because I can’t understand why they had to launch two covers EPs instead of only one full album, such as the magnificent Undisputed Attitude recorded by Slayer back in 1996.

Dissident Aggressor opens the EP and it’s undoubtedly the best track of all, although I prefer a million times the version from Slayer and a billion times the original song from Judas Priest. Anyway, there’s nothing special in this version, it’s just a well-played cover song. Then comes Get Lucky from Daft Punk, and here we have one of those cases where the cover version is superior to the original, such as DevilDriver’s version of Sail (Awolnation), mainly because the original song is not really heavy, but again nothing special. In Shoot to Thrill (AC/DC), they turned an all-time classic into a regular song, despite all the effort from Lzzy to sing as “Hard N’ Heavy” as possible. Hell is for Children from Pat Benatar and Gold Dust Woman from Fleetwood Mac are so close to the original ones that, in my opinion, do not add any true value to the EP. Finally, their version for Marilyn Manson’s 1996 is not as good as the original one, and it even lacks the energy Manson had when he recorded it.

HALESTORMThe album art is too generic, especially if compared to the first covers EP. And regarding the musicians, although they are all pretty good I guess no one cares too much about any of them except for the beautiful and competent lead singer Elizabeth “Lzzy” Hale: she’s the only reason why Halestorm became so famous in the world of music, and the only thing that can keep the band alive in the following years. Nevertheless, her voice might be powerful but it’s certainly not unique; if you listen to Mia Coldheart, from the Swedish band Crucified Barbara, you’ll understand why I’m saying this. By the way, Crucified Barbara is not as famous as Halestorm only because (GUESS WHAT?) they’re not from North America.

In summary, it’s an interesting EP with some good covers from a band that is currently under the spotlights, but that’s it. And if they launch another ReAniMate covers EP in 2014, well, then they’ll take the 1st place of “best professional band in the world that only plays cover songs” from Finland’s Children of Bodom.

Best moments of the album: Dissident Aggressor and Shoot To Thrill.

Worst moments of the album: As I previously mentioned, the fact that it is their second covers EP turns it into some kind of “rip-off”.

Released in 2013 Atlantic Records

Track listing
1. Dissident Aggressor (Judas Priest cover) 3:12
2. Get Lucky (Daft Punk cover) 3:08
3. Shoot to Thrill (AC/DC cover) 5:07
4. Hell is for Children (Pat Benatar cover) 4:46
5. Gold Dust Woman (Fleetwood Mac cover) 4:10
6. 1996 (Marilyn Manson cover) 4:22

Band members
Lzzy Hale – lead vocals, rhythm and lead guitar, keyboard
Arejay Hale – drums, percussion, backing vocals
Joe Hottinger – lead guitar, backing vocals
Josh Smith – bass guitar, backing vocals