AC/DC - Black Ice

NME.COM feature on AC/DC - Black Ice album including album review, artwork, tracks, listen now, tour dates, discography and more.

Release date: 30 September 2008

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AC/DC - Black Ice: Wikipedia Album Entry

Black Ice is the 15th studio album by Australian hard rock band AC/DC, produced by Brendan O'Brien and released worldwide between October 17 and 22, 2008. AC/DC were known to be working on the album as early as January 2006, with it being delayed because of an injury to bassist Cliff Williams and a change of record labels to Sony Music, and in turn Columbia Records.

The album is their longest to date, with the band having recorded it in The Warehouse Studio in Vancouver, Canada, the same studio as their previous album Stiff Upper Lip. It is their first album since the release of Stiff Upper Lip in 2000, the longest gap between two AC/DC studio albums to date.

Black Ice sold around 1,762,000 units in its first week, shipping 5,000,000 copies worldwide. The album went number one in 29 different countries, including Australia, the United Kingdom and United States. In its first week, it sold 784,000 copies in the US alone, with it receiving a three times platinum certification in Australia and selling upwards of 110,000 in the UK. The band's 15th effort has been heralded as "the biggest debut ever by a mainstream hard rock album."

In a 2004 interview, vocalist Brian Johnson revealed that for the first time since the 1988 album Blow Up Your Video, he would be handling lyrics (as it turned out, this did not prove to be the case). He also said that guitarist Angus Young had written harder riffs than those on Stiff Upper Lip.

As of January 2006, AC/DC were working on the album, and according to rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young at that time, "The band are currently writing and recording material for the eagerly anticipated next album, but no release date has been set."

In June 2008, Reuters reported that the album would be distributed solely by Wal-Mart stores only in the United States It was later announced that the album would be produced by Brendan O'Brien and recorded and mixed by Mike Fraser at The Warehouse Studio in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

On August 15, AC/DC recorded the video to accompany the first single from the album, "Rock 'n' Roll Train", in London. Three days later, an announcement was made on the band's official website, stating that Black Ice would be released on October 20, 2008.

There are several reasons why Black Ice was belatedly released – for one, AC/DC changed record labels to Columbia, and their bass player Cliff Williams injured his hand. He actually cut all the tendons and nerves in his hand after knocking over an oil lamp and fell whilst trying to clean up the glass and oil. Williams couldn’t play bass guitar for 18 months . Then it was Malcolm Young who decided when the band was ready. "Malcolm and Angus had been writing music for quite some time and came to the conclusion that they had a lot of great tunes. So they decided it was time to record the album."

"Rock 'n' Roll Train" was released on August 28. The video of "Rock 'n' Roll Train" appeared on the band's website on September 19. That day also saw the release of another song, "War Machine". Also on that day was the release of a brief appraisal of the album by Rolling Stone magazine. Rolling Stone cites that "Brian wails about skies on fire, blood in his eyes, storms raging, lightning flashes, hard rain and pretty women...Angus Young shreds throughout...Malcolm Young, Cliff Williams and Phil Rudd — are solid as a rock." They also make the surprise statement that Angus Young uses a slide on the song "Stormy May Day". The magazine also named several tracks before the official release of the track listing. Another single, "Money Made" has also been released.

Several days after the original version of the album was made available for pre-order, the band's website store listed two variations of cover artwork available for the CD in addition to the original red logo. These were a yellow logo and a silver logo. All three versions feature the exact same music and content with a black background. However, the grey designs behind the band's logo are different on each of the two different covers. There is also a hardcover "Deluxe Edition" (blue logo) available which will contain a 30-page booklet with exclusive new illustrations, studio and live photographs of AC/DC.

The first 10 tracks were played on radio station network Triple M in Australia 9 pm Monday 13th and again at 1 pm on Tuesday. Those tracks can now be previewed along with interviews with Angus and Brian on the Triple M website.

With the North American release of Black Ice on October 20th 2008, Columbia Records and Walmart created "Rock Again AC/DC Stores" with the album Black Ice holding centre stage. It was the first time in the history of Walmart that such a large area of floor space was designated to celebrate the release of a new album. In October 2008, MTV along with Wal Mart and Columbia Records created "AC/DC Rock Band Stores" in New York, at Times Square, and Los Angeles. "Black Ice" trucks were also dispatched on the streets of these two cities after the release of Black Ice, playing AC/DC music aloud and making various stops each day to sell merchandise.

Four different covers were released for this album, three of which featuring differently coloured logos (red, yellow, and white) as well as a fourth with pale blue lettering containing bonus material.

The album was also released as an LP on two 180 gram vinyl discs that came in a heavy gatefold package featuring the red lettering variation on the front. The LP was sold through the band's website, and was also made available through independent record shops in the United States. The band also released a 7" vinyl single that featured the song "Rock 'n Roll Train" on Side A, and "War Machine" on Side B. The 7" single came in a sleeve with its own unique artwork. The 7" vinyl was also made available in the United States through some independent record shops.

Name Origin
According to Angus Young, the term Black Ice refers to playing gigs during the winter in the Young brothers' native country of Scotland. In an interview, Angus said that "it rolled off the tongue" and that it reminds him of "radio warnings up north of black ice."

Please help improve this section by expanding it. Further information might be found on the talk page or at requests for expansion. (November 2008)

In an interview, Brian Johnson described the album as the "best one we've done", noting that he felt that while Back in Black was great for the time, but Black Ice shows the band's "versatility", with only a few changes from their previous efforts. For example, Angus Young plays slide guitar, on "Stormy May Day" and Johnson recalls feeling a twinge of anxiety when Brendan O'Brien suggested he swap some screaming for a spot of soul singing.

Chart performance and sales
On October 20, 2008, Black Ice was released in the United States, and sold upwards of 193,000 units on the first day. That same day, the album debuted at number 3 on the Australian album charts, but due to the fact that record stores broke the official release date for the album and released it one day early, the chart position was not granted. The following week on October 27, it debuted at number one on the Australian Aria Album Charts and reached 3x Platinum status in its first week.

As of October 26, Black Ice had shipped approximately 5,000,000 copies worldwide, debuting on the UK Album charts at number one (a first since Back in Black), selling "110,000 copies out of the box, a dramatic 777% increase on the initial 14,000 units of its 2000 predecessor Stiff Upper Lip."

On October 28, Black Ice debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 album chart, selling over 784,000 copies in its first week of release, the second highest one-week sales of an album in the US of 2008, ranking ahead of Coldplay's Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends and only trailing Lil Wayne's Tha Carter III. It is also the biggest debut by a mainstream hard rock album. The album debuted at number one in 29 different countries.

Black Ice sold in its first week worldwide 1,762,000 copies. Within two weeks, the album had sold 2,441,000 copies.

Track listing
All songs written by Angus and Malcolm Young.

# Title Length
1. "Rock 'n' Roll Train" 4:21
2. "Skies on Fire" 3:34
3. "Big Jack" 3:57
4. "Anything Goes" 3:22
5. "War Machine" 3:09
6. "Smash 'n' Grab" 4:06
7. "Spoilin' for a Fight" 3:17
8. "Wheels" 3:28
9. "Decibel" 3:34
10. "Stormy May Day" 3:10
11. "She Likes Rock 'n' Roll" 3:53
12. "Money Made" 4:15
13. "Rock 'n' Roll Dream" 4:41
14. "Rocking All the Way" 3:22
15. "Black Ice" 3:25

Brian Johnson – lead vocals
Angus Young – lead guitar
Malcolm Young – rhythm guitar, backing vocals
Cliff Williams – bass guitar, backing vocals
Phil Rudd – drums, percussion
Brendan O'Brien - producer
Mike Fraser - engineer, mixer
Eric Mosher - assistant engineer
Billy Bowers - additional engineering
Mastered at Sterling Sound, NYC by George Marino
Richard Jones, Geoff Banks, Rick St. Pierre - equipment technicians
Guido Karp - photography
Joshua Marc Levy - art direction, design, illustrations (containing vector graphics by You Work For Them, LLC)
Alvin Handwerker (Prager and Fenton LLP) - management

User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License and may also be available under the GNU FDL.

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