Hells Bells

Song Review by

To say that AC/DC had a lot riding on the success of Back in Black would be an understatement: the untimely death of Bon Scott, one of the most charismatic frontmen in hard rock history, cast a long shadow over the band, and they had to prove they were still a viable unit without him. However, all doubters were proven wrong when the group rebounded with Back in Black, an album considered to be both AC/DC's finest and one of the top metal albums of all time. From start to finish, it burns with the passion and energy of a band out to prove themselves. Nowhere is this passion felt more strongly than on its opening track, "Hells Bells"; on the surface, it's lyrics are a simple tale of the grim reaper told in first-person style. Just the same, lyrics like "I'm rolling thunder, a pouring rain/I'm comin' on like a hurricane" feel more like a statement of determination when one considers the band's position at the time. This determined feel is driven home by the music, which starts like a mournful hymn but soon gives way to a punchy rock melody punctuated by a howl-along chorus. AC/DC's performance puts the icing on the cake: starting with funereal tolling bells, it builds from mournful but majestic dual-guitar lines to a swinging rocker anchored by trudging drums and a thumping bass line. New vocalist Brian Johnson snarls his way through the lyrics and unleashes a hair-raising banshee wail on the chorus while Angus Young punches out one killer riff after another on his guitar. Even though it never moves faster than a mid-tempo level, "Hells Bells" seethes with an intensity and power that makes it one of the most potent tracks in AC/DC's repertoire.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Back in Black 1980 Sony Music 5:12
Who Made Who 1986 Epic / Sony Music 5:12
Bonfire 1997 Elektra 5:12
No Image 2000 My Little Sister's 5:57
The Family Jewels [Video] 2005 Epic / Sony Music
Box Set [17 CD] 2006 Albert Productions 6:01
Back Home with Brian 2018 Sonic Boom 5:08