Rock and roll, much like life itself, can be a dangerous business, and a lot of songs address violent topics in no uncertain terms, particularly in the hard rock and heavy metal realms. AC/DC have frequently used aggressive terminology to camouflage sexual metaphors (see ‘Shoot to Thrill,’ ‘Guns for Hire,’ 'Walk All Over You,' ‘Kicked in the Teeth,’ etc.), but a few of their tunes actually describe violent scenarios, and those are what you’ll find below in our list of AC/DC’s Most Violent Songs.
‘Smash ’n' Grab’From: ’Black Ice’ (2008)
The first cut in our list of AC/DC's Most Violent Songs hails from 2008’s ‘Black Ice’ album, and shows that middle age has done little to dull the ornery band’s fighting talk. On ‘Smash ’n' Grab,’ AC/DC preaches taking what you want and taking what you can, preferably by force.
’T.N.T.’From: ’T.N.T.’ (1975)
The title track from AC/DC’s second Australian album (later added to the international edition of ‘High Voltage’) kindly informed their country’s conservative '70s establishment that its very worst nightmares had returned, packing dynamite and other dangerous materials with which to terrorize whoever stood in the way of their hard rock assault.
‘Back in Business’From: ‘Fly on the Wall' (1985)
On the ‘Fly on the Wall’ album cut, ‘Back in Business,’ singer Brian Johnson adopts the character of a brutal underworld hit man. Remorseless and unrepentant, he proudly boasts about returning to the streets (and to his old, murderous ways) after having broken out of prison.
‘Spoilin' for a Fight’From: ’Black Ice’ (2008)
On our second visit to the ‘Black Ice’ album, we get into the ring with ‘Spoilin’ for a Fight,’ where Johnson delivers a message of blind ambition backed by his best fighting words. It culminates in his threat that "You better stand your ground and keep out of my town to live another day."
‘Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap’From: ‘Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap’ (1976)
A perfect analogy for the allegations that were shockingly leveled (and just as quickly retracted) against AC/DC timekeeper Phil Rudd, ‘Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap’ addresses all kinds of sordid behavior before its protagonist comes right out and offers to “handle the situation by any means necessary.”
‘Night of the Long Knives’From: ‘For Those About to Rock We Salute You' (1981)
Who says AC/DC can’t do historical songs? This slow-boiling, bombastic favorite from the ’For Those About to Rock We Salute You’ album was named after an infamous series of political assassinations conducted by the Nazi regime in 1934. Its lyrics may be a little vague, but read them closely and you’ll see for yourself.
‘This Means War’From: ‘Blow Up Your Video’ (1988)
The final track from 1988’s underrated ‘Blow Up Your Video’ is one of the flat-out fastest and most intense in the entire AC/DC canon. It’s also a worthy entry in our list of AC/DC’s Most Violent Songs, thanks to the bellicose language about guns, grenades, bombers and blitzes. The song paints a military picture in keeping with the backing music’s inexorable attack through to its explosive conclusion.
‘Jailbreak’From: ‘’74 Jailbreak’ (1984)
Violence abounds in this hard-luck tale of crime and punishment. It starts with murder, results in hellish imprisonment and concludes with a desperate flight for freedom to the deafening noise of sirens blaring, rifles firing and, oh yeah, shards of guitar notes flying. In the end, we are told that ‘Jailbreak’s’ anti-hero did, in fact, ‘make it out,’ but ‘with a bullet in his back.’
‘Shake a Leg’From: ‘Back in Black’ (1980)
‘Back in Black’s oft-forgotten classic, ‘Shake a Leg,’ is quite simply one of the toughest, meanest, outright devastating tunes AC/DC ever recorded. If its pulverizing power and fast-paced tempo don’t get you, then its lyrics about a juvenile delinquent, fightin’ on the wrong side of the law, just spittin' and bitin’ and kickin’ and fightin' for more will lay you low.
‘Problem Child’ From: ‘Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap’ (1976)
One of the ultimate bad boy anthems from one of the ultimate bad boy bands, ‘Problem Child’ really put the ‘Dirty Deeds’ into 1976’s ‘Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap.’ With bold threats like ‘With a flick of my knife, I can change your life’ and ‘Say bye-bye while you’re still alive,’ this bruising juggernaut of nasty intentions is a perfect choice for our list of AC/DC’s Most Violent Songs.
Bonus: You Think You Know AC/DC?