Through The Mists Of Time by AC/DC
By Ron Powers
This month I’d like to discuss the standout track from AC/DC’s seventeenth studio album Power Up. “Through The Mists Of Time” is an anthem that fills the listener with the sort of expansive rock power that only AC/DC is capable of. Angus and the gang blend the aggressive edge they’re famous for with a touch of tenderness making for a rowdy and inspirational listening experience. The lyrics for “Through The Mists Of Time” were written by lead guitarist Angus Young and are a tribute to the band’s early and wild days. Singer Brian Johnson said he got shivers while recording the song thinking of the band’s former guitarist and co-founder Malcolm Young who died at age 64 in 2017. AC/DC is a band that has experienced every bright and dark corner of the rock and roll lifestyle, and “Through The Mists Of Time” feels like it reflects that experience in a meaningful way.
First, the band warms up the listener’s ears with lightly overdriven guitars that convey the cool yet uplifting feeling of the song. Under the guitars, we hear a single-note bass line filling out the bottom end and creating a subtle tension with the jazz-like drum rhythm. As the first verse is introduced, the airy feel of the intro quickly snaps into gear with a four-on-the-floor drumbeat. Singer Brian Johnson belts out the lines, “See dark shadows / On the walls / See the pictures / Some hang, some fall”. While Johnson delivers the top line, the band glides through the winding progression of the verse and seamlessly transitions into the chorus like a bird taking flight.
A deeply satisfying and expansive feeling permeates the chorus. Just before the first downbeat, we hear the line “Through The Mists Of Time”, followed by classic AC/DC backing vocals. A simple power chord guitar arrangement supports the top line while the straightforward drumbeat keeps the listener’s head bobbing and fist pumping. This simplicity is one of my favorite aspects of the genius of AC/DC’s music. Decade after decade they’ve exercised an instinct that knows when to express everything from punk rock simplicity to rock god virtuosity. The pockets of technical skill this band has access to could not be any deeper. But the real value lies in their discernment between when to reach deep and when not to.
After a couple of verse and chorus repetitions the band blasts off into a guitar solo led by the iconic sound of Young’s Gibson SG. Few guitarists have dug out the channels necessary to express themselves with the fluidity and raw power that Angus Young has, and “Through The Mists Of Time” boasts a fiery example of his legendary abilities. The brief eight measures of the solo produce the perfect amount of variation and ensures that the verse/chorus dynamic doesn’t get bland. After refreshing the ears, the solo prepares the listeners to easily enjoy the rest of the song.
For me, “Through The Mists Of Time” easily stands with mega hits by AC/DC like “You Shook Me All Night Long” and “Back In Black”. If you’d like to listen to it you can find it on Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, and most other places music is streamed or sold. If you’d like to learn more about AC/DC you can find them on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
About the Author: Ron Powers is an independent A&R specialist and music industry consultant and is constantly searching for, discovering and writing about new talent.