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By Rhys Lett

Power Up – AC/DC – First Reaction

The new AC/DC album Power Up is released today worldwide. Here is the first listen impressions of each song by ESSM owner and lifelong fan Rhys Lett. Headphones in, lights out, here we go!

Power Up – First Listen Review

Realize – the signature power chord accents. More energy than the previous album Rock or Bust. Nice double stops guitar solo. Droning backing vocals have shades of Thunderstruck.

Rejection – intro reminds me of Pictures of Lily. Backing vocals certainly sounding different without Malcolm. Makes you appreciate his contribution to the AC/DC sound even more. Angus has always been a great blues player. We get more of that here. Super nice clean rhythm guitar sound. You don’t need to dial up the distortion on the guitar amp to get a powerful tone.

Shot in the Dark – the lead off single to promote Power Up. They do it every time. Fantastic hook laden first single. Sharing similar feel to Stiff Upper Lip. Listening to the previous songs this was an excellent choice as the introduction for the Power Up tone.

Through the Mists of Time – different groove for AC/DC in the intro. Back to the swinging Phil Rudd beat in verse. Bass work more melodic than most AC/DC tracks. Jimmy Page style licks in the guitar solo. Very different type of song for AC/DC. Love it.

Kick You When Your Down – swampy groove and guitar work. They really worked on the backing vocals. Enjoying the variety in feel. AC/DC have a sound but they do have scope within that sound. These last two tracks showing that ability.

Learn Songs from Power Up by visiting the Eastern Suburbs School of Music YouTube Channel

Witch’s Spell – this is more typical AC/DC. For Those About to Rock style hybrid picking melody by Angus. Don’t even need to pick up the guitar to know the chorus chords. B – G – D – A – E. All tunes starting to have an annoying similar end of Angus sliding atonally down the neck.

Demon Fire – hell yes!!!! Great intro and better use of the Safe in New York City style riff. Nice tremolo guitar work before second verse. This is kick ass. Brian vocals are fantastic using low register growls and nice key change in second chorus. Everything about this tune is perfect. Just a huge smile on face right now. Atonal slide again, not as bad.

Wild Reputation – earlier era sound on this one. Riffs could fit on Highway to Hell. Backing vocals more in the Malcolm style arrangement. The guitars tone and mix on the album is so punchy.

No Man’s Land – nice Scottish sounding intro. Underwhelming verse and chorus. Good build into last chorus but song doesn’t do much.

Systems Down – cool fuzz tone sustained guitar chord to start song. Bass again getting melodic in verse. Nice use of chromatics at end of the chorus riff. Riff under guitar solo also nice and dark. Fuzz tone back to end song.

Money Shot – continuing the surprise chord choices with the chorus riff. Best guitar solo on the album and great outro solo by Angus.

Code Red – sounds like a Ballbreaker era song. Interesting rhythm in the verse vocals. Very melodic album. Blow Up Your Video era chorus vocals. Better than the previous three songs. Album was running out of steam for me until this song.

Power Up – Final Words

Overall a very enjoyable first listen. Signature AC/DC sounds with some experimentation. For a band that is almost 50 years into their existence it is amazing they find creative ways to revamp the formula. AC/DC can still deliver interesting tunes that deserve many repeat listens. An achievement that will further their legacy.

Buy it, stream it, watch the video clips. Appreciate this legendary band still getting it done by crafting and working at their art. If it is the last album we get it’s ending on a high note.

Thank you Angus, Brian, Phil, Cliff and Stevie. This makes up for all that 2020 has thrown us.