Black Ice is the 15th studio album by Australian hard rock band AC/DC, released on October 20, 2008 for Australia and October 22 for the rest of the world. It is their first album in eight years, since the release of Stiff Upper Lip in 2000, the longest gap between AC/DC's studio albums to date. The album was produced by Brendan O'Brien and recorded and mixed by Mike Fraser at The Warehouse Studio in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. It is also AC/DC's longest studio album to date.
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 April 2008, AC/DC's official website confirmed the release of the new album with producer Brendan O'Brien and audio engineer Mike Fraser, but did not confirm a release date.
In June 2008, Reuters reported that the album would be distributed solely by Wal-Mart stores in the United States, and that HMV stores in Canada were advertising the album with an October release date.
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 Sony, 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.