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

The Year In Review – Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2017

“We sort of find that music tames the beast, you know.” – Malcom Young

It’s that wonderful time of the year again, and I’m obviously not talking about Christmas and the holiday season. In a year where we lost so many talented and important musicians in rock and heavy music for various reasons, including Malcolm Young (AC/DC), Chris Cornell (Soundgarden), Chester Bennington (Linkin Park), Trish Doan (Kittie), Martin Eric Ain (Celtic Frost), Warrel Dane (Nevermore, Sanctuary), John Wetton (Uriah Heep), David Zablidowsky (Adrenaline Mob, Trans-Siberian Orchestra), Chuck Mosley (Faith No More) and Cherry Taketani (Okotô, Hellsakura, NervoChaos), among several others, not to mention the end of the unmatched Black Sabbath, who we were able to witness live one last time during their farewell tour The End, only the freshness and energy flowing from brand new metal music can give us hope, not allowing Heavy Metal and Rock N’ Roll to die as many like to prophesy every single year.

Having said that, it’s time to blow our goddamn speakers with The Headbanging Moose’s Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2017, excluding EP’s, best of’s and live albums, taming the beast inside us all as wisely said by AC/DC’s heart and soul Malcolm Young (R.I.P.). And as 2017 was the year of bands that cannot be considered dinosaurs in metal (or at least not yet), such as Trivium and Mastodon, that certainly points to a bright future ahead for Heavy Metal with their recent releases because, as you know, we won’t have behemoths like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Metallica kicking ass on stage forever. By the way, this was definitely a fantastic year for Mastodon, who not only released one of the best albums of 2017, the excellent Emperor of Sand, but they also had some extra energy to burn with the classy EP Cold Dark Place, which by the way is part of our top 10 EP’s of the year (as you’ll see after our top 10/20 list). Alright, without further ado, turn up the volume and enjoy our 2017 list… LET THERE BE ROCK!

1. Trivium – The Sin and the Sentence (REVIEW)
A superb album full of fast and intricate riffs, poetic lyrics, a sensational new drummer and, above all, the return of Matt’s trademark screams.
Best song of the album: Betrayer

2. Kreator – Gods Of Violence (REVIEW)
We shall praise the best Teutonic Thrash Metal institution of all time, as the gods of violence come alive.
Best song of the album: Totalitarian Terror

3. Blaze Bayley – Endure And Survive (REVIEW)
The indomitable Blaze Bayley returns with the second installment of Infinite Entanglement, his most ambitious project to date.
Best song of the album: Blood

4. Mastodon – Emperor of Sand (REVIEW)
Follow the inspirational story of a desert wanderer who has been handed a death sentence in this excellent album of Progressive Metal.
Best song of the album: Word to the Wise

5. Accept – The Rise of Chaos (REVIEW)
Let total chaos and destruction rise to the sound of the brand new album by the unstoppable Teutonic masters of Heavy Metal.
Best song of the album: Analog Man

6. Moonspell – 1755 (REVIEW)
An orchestral and emotional concept album that will take you to the year when a giant earthquake destroyed the city of Lisbon.
Best song of the album: Todos Os Santos

7. Striker – Striker (REVIEW)
Canadian Heavy Metal has never been more vibrant and rapturous than this.
Best song of the album: Born To Lose

8. Divine Element – Thaurachs Of Borsu (REVIEW)
Witness the passage of a soldier through various levels of consciousness about the reality of war and human society.
Best song of the album: Thaurachs Of Borsu

9. Torture Squad – Far Beyond Existence (REVIEW)
Don’t cross the path of one of the most respectful bands from the Brazilian Thrash and Death Metal scene.
Best song of the album: Blood Sacrifice

10. Solitary – The Diseased Heart of Society (REVIEW)
Four veteran thrash metallers canalizing all the hatred, degradation and perversions of our modern-day society into their music.
Best song of the album: Architects of Shame

And here we have the runner-ups, completing the top 20 for the year:

11. Karkaos – Children Of The Void (REVIEW)
12. Prometheus – Consumed In Flames (REVIEW)
13. Battle Beast – Bringer Of Pain (REVIEW)
14. Terrifier – Weapons of Thrash Destruction (REVIEW)
15. Body Count – Bloodlust (REVIEW)
16. Dzö-nga – The Sachem’s Tales (REVIEW)
17. Cradle of Filth – Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay (REVIEW)
18. Cannibal Corpse – Red Before Black (REVIEW)
19. Infernäl Mäjesty – No God (REVIEW)
20. Katharos XIII – Negativity (REVIEW)

As aforementioned, we also have for you this year our Top 10 EP’s of 2017, ranging from the most rebellious form of Deathcore to the most melodic type of Symphonic Metal, from visceral Doom Metal to demonic Black Metal, and so on. In addition, those bands hail from all four corner of the earth, proving once again that it doesn’t matter where you go you’ll always be able to find first-class metal music, including all of its genres and subgenres, to please your avid metallic ears.

1. Primal Age – A Silent Wound (REVIEW)
2. Sinners Moon – Far Beyond The Stars (REVIEW)
3. Aversio Humanitatis – Longing for the Untold (REVIEW)
4. Loathfinder – The Great Tired Ones (REVIEW)
5. Ljosazabojstwa – Sychodžańnie (REVIEW)
6. Lorn – Arrayed Claws (REVIEW)
7. Jupiter Hollow – Odyssey (REVIEW)
8. Dö – Astral: Death/Birth (REVIEW)
9. Mastodon – Cold Dark Place (REVIEW)
10. Afire – Afire (REVIEW)

Do you agree with our list? What are your top 10 albums of 2017? If you want to check another awesome list, I highly recommend Antichrst Magazine’s Top 10 Albums of 2017 (Editorial Staff), a great online publication that we at The Headbanging Moose also contribute to on a regular basis. Also, don’t forget to tune in to Timão Metal every Tuesday on Rádio Coringão for a blazing fusion of metal and soccer, and to The Headbanging Moose Show every Thursday on Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio for the best of underground metal from all over the world!

Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year! See you in 2018!

Actually, before all is said and done, here’s for you the 2017 Christmas single from Norwegian Melodic Power Metal project Aldaria called When The Time Has Come, featuring several renowned guest musicians such as Ralf Scheepers (Primal Fear), Yannis Papadopoulos (Beast In Black),  Lars Rettkowitz (Freedom Call) and Morten Gade Sørensen (Pyramaze), among others, with 100% of all income of this single being donated to Cancer Research. “This is a very important cause for me, as I lost my mother to this horrible disease in 2010. The single will be available across all streaming and digital platforms, and on Aldaria’s official webstore, where you will get a special edition with a lossless audio file, instrumental, high resolution cover art, and lyrics”, commented guitarist Frode Hovd, the mastermind behind Aldaria. Let’s all support such important cause!