Is AC/DC still good? An honest review of POWER-UP


Tristan Pratt


It’s been 4 years since we’ve heard anything musical from hard rock legends AC/DC. Since September of 2016, when the tour for their 2015 album Rock or Bust ended, there has not been even a peep from them on any social media platforms. However, that doesn’t mean that AC/DC hasn’t been in the news during this time, for when that aforementioned tour finally ended, the band was in the most trying time of their almost 5-decade history. 

This isn’t though the first time that AC/DC had to suffer a member change, the most notable being when singer Brian Johnson replaced Bon Scott, who died of a drug/alcohol overdose in 1980. Yet this was nothing compared to the rapid-fire nation of what the 2010s brought to the band. In 2014, before Rock or Bust was even recorded, rhythm guitarist and co-founder Malcolm Young left the band for medical reasons. Young was suffering from dementia and other pre-existing health conditions. Then in 2016, during the Rock or Bust tour, singer Brian Johnson had to quit the band due to the risk of him losing his hearing. For the second half of the tour, the AC/DC singer was none other than Axl Rose, the famous singer from fellow rock legends Guns n’ Roses. Around the same time, drummer Phil Rudd got into legal issues, requiring the emergency replacement of drummer Chris Slade, who was the drummer for the band on their platinum album The Razor’s Edge. And that was only half of it.

After the Rock or Bust tour, bassist Cliff Williams announced his retirement from the band. But the biggest blow came in 2017, when Malcolm Young passed away due to dementia. This meant that the only original member left in the band from the Highway to Hell era was lead guitarist and co-founder Angus Young, Malcolm’s brother. When the news broke to the public of Malcolm’s death, it was assumed by most to be the end of AC/DC.

However, this was not the case. To the shock of almost everyone, AC/DC released their 17th studio album last month. Even more surprising is the fact that the album, titled POWER UP, features Brian Johnson, Cliff Williams, and Phil Rudd on all of the tracks, along with Stevie Young (Angus and Malcolm’s cousin) and of course Angus. So what does the average fan think of POWER UP?

As a fan, I find POWER UP to be just what the doctor ordered in the middle of a pandemic: pure, unadulterated, classic AC/DC. From the fast-tempo upbeat nature of “Demon Fire” to the almost ballad-esque “Through the Mists of Time”, to a song like “Code Red” that urges you to headbang for all 4 minutes that it lasts, POWER UP is by far the strongest album that the band has put up since their 2008 album Black Ice

Add it all up, and it cements something all rock fans know deep in their souls: AC/DC is the master of the comeback. The album following Bon Scott’s death in 1980, Back in Black, is considered as one of their greatest albums of all time. In 2020, I’d say POWER UP is number 5 in my all time favorite AC/DC album list, just above its predecessor Rock or Bust. All in all, I think that it is a successful comeback effort for a band whose name will go down as one of the biggest and strong-willed bands of all time.