In over 20 years, AC/DC never changed their minimalist, bone-crunching hard rock. During their first ten years, that wasn’t a problem, since they were still finding ways to expand and subvert the pattern, but ever since For Those About to Rock, they had trouble coming up with consistent material. Consequently, their performances tended to be a little lazy and their records didn’t deliver a reliable knockout punch. Released in 1990, The Razor’s Edge showed some signs of life, and their comeback culminated in the Rick Rubin-produced Ballbreaker. What makes Ballbreaker different than the albums AC/DC churned out during the ’80s is simple — it’s a matter of focus. Although “Hard as a Rock” comes close, there aren’t any songs as immediately memorable as any of their ’70s classics, or even “Moneytalks.” However, unlike any record since Back in Black, there are no bad songs on the album. Surprisingly, Rubin‘s production is a bit too dry, lacking the muscle needed to make the riffs sound truly earthshaking. Nevertheless, Angus Young‘s riffs are powerful and catchy, showcasing every element that makes him one of hard rock and heavy metal’s greatest guitarists. Throughout the album, the band sounds committed and professional, making Ballbreaker the best late-period AC/DC album to date.
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