AC/DC - CD
Sony Music International - Out Nov 13
Most of us probably thought there would not be another AC/DC album after 2014’s Rock Or Bust as Brian Johnson left due to hearing problems, Cliff Williams retired, Phil Rudd had legal problems that kept him from the band and we sadly lost Malcolm Young to dementia in 2017 However, a publicity photo in September this year showed all four remaining members together with Angus’s nephew Stevie Young filling the rhythm guitarist spot…something was going on.
Power Up is one hell of an album; I would go as far as to say one of their best since the 1980’s. It’s all here, exactly what you would expect from AC/DC with twelve excellent songs, ear-bitingly produced and catchy enough to stick in your brain after the first listen. No doubt Angus and Malcolm wrote more than twelve songs in the last six years (the songs are taken from their writing partnership before Malcolm died) but what they have done here is selected the best and fine-tuned them to give maximum enjoyment and impact out of every one. There is no filler, no solos that go on too long or are too flash, no over-the-top production and no icing on the cake. This is a 100% pure Rock ‘n’ Roll album, nothing more, nothing less.
As seems to be the case these days, the album is released in a variety of formats, the niftiest being a box containing the CD which lights up and can be powered from a USB cable – it also plays the opening bars of Shot In The Dark from a built in speaker. However, my opinion would be to buy the Japanese Blu-Ray spec CD which has a lot more separation between the instruments, a warmer bass and an attack from the mid-range that bites into you like a North Sea wind. It hurts but damn it hurts in the right places! There’s no bonus tracks on this release but after 41 minutes of this aural assault, your ears will be glad of a rest.
I like to think that Malcolm Young would have been very pleased with this album. Whether or not it will be AC/DC’s last remains to be seen but if it is, there could be no better farewell or tribute to Malcolm and the band. I’m the first to admit that I went off of AC/DC back at the start of 2000 but this album has dragged me back to their world and I shall revisit a few albums I didn’t listen too much. That said, even if my opinion of those albums holds the same, Power Up will be aired regularly in my house for years to come, another milestone for their band in an illustrious career.
Shot In The Dark
Through The Mists Of Time
Kick You When You’re Down
No Man’s Land
HAKEN - CD
Sony Music International - Out now
Since forming in 2007, Haken have released a series of albums that have shown progress in their songwriting and musicianship. This is their sixth studio album and their third with this line-up and once again they have made another step forward, indeed, the very term Progressive Metal not only applies to their genre of music but also to their movement forward within that genre. That said, Haken have used exactly the same production, engineering and additional musicians that they did for their last record (Vector 2018) so what we have here is progress in the music against a very familiar and solid background.
It’s a textured ride as you would expect with lots of low-end bass, chugging and biting guitars that flutter into exotic scales back-dropped with haunting keyboards, some on/off/on drums and all topped with some beautiful vocal lines that swoop through the various elements exactly where they should be. Lyrically, it’s their finest set of songs to date with a lot of psychology but touching on technology, environment, biology, and politics. Messiah Complex is a sixteen minute opus which has a lot of gems in there for you discover whilst Canary Yellow is straight forward delight. Whilst we are on it, the bonus track for the Japanese release is also Canary Yellow albeit an acoustic version. Some of the lyrics have been translated into Japanese which are sung by Bent Knee singer Courtney Swain and in all honesty, I prefer it to the actual track on the album; sweet all the way through.
It’s no surprise that since Vector, this six-piece has received awards and recognition for their work and are now regarded as one of the best in this genre. They have got the balance between Metal and Prog exactly right and their musicianship has improved, most notably between themselves having an understanding of each other’s abilities. This naturally reflects heavily in the songs and although the album is in some ways a continuation of Vector, this is far more advanced in every way. Even the artwork has taken a big step forward with some very eerie images alongside the lyrics.
Virus. That’s the title and no doubt when you read that will have an instant association with the current world situation but get past it because there is so much more for you to discover here. You don’t even have to wear a mask. J
4 The Strain
5 Canary Yellow
6 Messiah Complex
A Glutton For Punishment
7 Only Stars
8 Canary Yellow (acoustic)*
*Bonus track for Japan