AC/DC: Rock or Bust

Aussie stars, despite personal setbacks, stick to their tried-and-true formula: Big riffs, seedy lyrics

AC/DC ringmaster Brian Johnson may be approaching 70, but that won't stop him from yowling like a young lech: "Mistress, mistress, all night long/Keep on comin' hot and strong," he shouts on "Rock the House," a bluesy cut from the Aussie power-chord monsters' latest LP. This is a band that has never so much as detoured from its highway to hell over the past four decades. In 1980, AC/DC built their biggest album ever, Back in Black, with Johnson stepping in after the death of founding frontman Bon Scott. Now they've pummeled out another disc that fits right into their discography, even without rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young, who has bowed out due to a debilitating illness.

AC/DC remain hard rock's masters of déjà vu. With Young's nephew Stevie Young filling in for him, the arena-rock vets whip out plenty of electrifying fist-pumpers like "Play Ball" and the locomotive-powered "Rock the Blues Away," while testing their libidos on the seedy stripper ode "Sweet Candy" and stretching their car metaphors accordingly on "Emission Control" – all in four minutes or less. AC/DC may have no interest in ever improving on their core sound, but that also means they'll never run the risk of ruining it.