The Song Remains the Same may be the title of an old Led Zeppelin album, but it's also the best way to describe AC/DC's new studio album, Black Ice, its 15th.
Lead singer Brian Johnson has stated in recent interviews that Black Ice is the best AC/DC record since he joined the band; perhaps the drugs have finally taken over.
Black Ice is yet another "new" AC/DC record that comes off as a self-gratifying hodgepodge of what can already be heard by the band on classic-rock radio. Just like everything the group has released over the last two decades, nothing on Black Ice will have any relevance in history: Songs like the leadoff single, "Rock 'n' Roll Train," will not be heard on classic rock radio or in concert in upcoming years.
"Unoriginal" and "uninspiring" are the first adjectives to come to mind while listening to Black Ice. Even with Angus Young attempting the slide guitar on "Stormy May Day," the guitar playing of the Young brothers remains catchy but painfully recognizable. Phil Rudd falls into the same category as fellow classic rock drummers Charlie Watts and Peter Criss by getting way too much praise for performing the same beat constantly. And when Brian Johnson sings, you can still imagine him making constipated faces as he squeezes out every lyric.
Waiting eight years between albums is bad enough for any die-hard fan, but the group's decision to exclusively sell the new record at Wal-Mart cries: "Sellout!" Then again, the demographics of regular Wal-Mart shoppers and AC/DC fans go hand-in-hand.