Rock legends Motorhead celebrate their 40th anniversary with the release of their 22nd album, and long running stable line-up of guitarist Phil Campbell and drummer Mickey Dee alongside mainstay Lemmy. They continue to successfully tour and record with everything turned up to 11, even if setlists have become ever-so-slightly predictable.
With their brand of Rock’n’Roll (it’s beefed-up blues-based heavy metal, actually, Lemmy), their Motor Following will no doubt buy in their droves, because from the outset it lives up to the usual Motorhead standards.Famously formed in 1975 when bassist and vocalist Ian ‘Lemmy A Fiver’ Kilmister was fired from Hawkwind, the band were originally called Bastard, but changed their name to Motorhead, the title of a Hawksind b-side, the last track Lemmy wrote for them. Signing to United Artists, who didn’t know to how to the handle them, their debut On Parole was ditched and released a couple of years later, the band released their eponymous debut on Chiswick before moving to Bronze, with the classic line-up of guitarist Fast Eddie and drummer Phil Philthy Animal Taylor.
While on Bronze the band released ‘Overkill’, ‘Bomber’ and ‘Ace Of Spades’, all featuring classic tracks (the title track in each case), the ‘Please Don’t Touch’ duet with Girlschool and the classic No Sleep Till Hammersmith live album. The criminally underrated Iron Fist followed, before guitarist Fast Eddie Clark quit, to be replaced by Thin Lizzy guitarist Brian Robertson. While Another Perfect Day didn’t fair well at the time, it is one of the band’s highlights. Go listen to the riff and guitar solo on Shine and tell me otherwise.
The compilation ‘No Remorse’ saw a few new tracks featuring guitarists Wurzel and Phil Campbell, and an appearance on The Young Ones, and then in came drummer Pete Gill (Saxon).
‘Orgasmatron’ and ‘Rock’n’Roll’ followed, on GWR, the latter with a returning Taylor. 1991’s 1916 is a wonderful album with many a classic, as is ‘March Or Die’ (completed with 3 drummers, Taylor, Tommy Aldridge and Mickey Dee). With Dee a permanent member, Bastards followed, and Sacrifice in 1995. It is this 1984 – 1995 period that seems to be long forgotten and overlooked by fans and band alike which is criminal, it’s what I return to.
With Wurzel quitting, 1996’s Overnight Sensation saw the band down to a 3 piece again and is, in my view, the start of the sameness, the lack of variation and exploration. ‘Snake Bite Love’ and ‘We Are Motorhead’ saw out the millennium, with ‘Hammered’, ‘Inferno’, ‘Kiss Of Death’, ‘Motorizer’, ‘The World Is Yours; and 2013’s ‘Aftershock’ bringing us up to the present day.
The band haven’t changed, nor has the music; from the outset it’s classic in-your-face metal. Opener ‘Victory Or Die’ is as punchy and fast paced as ever with a stand-out guitar solo. A decent groove. ‘Thunder & Lightning’ follows at the same high tempo, classic Lemmy mid range growl, blistering solo and driving machine-gun rhythms.
There’s a hint of ZZ Top to the riff of ‘Fire Storm Hotel’, and Shoot Out All Of Your Lights opens with a trademark Mickey Dee drum roll, there’s a harsh tone to the guitar sound in its rolling riff. ‘The Devil’ is definitely a track to jump straight to, the chunky sound is a little different, but it’s the guitar solo care of Dr Brian May that really stands out. ‘Evil Eye’ has a decent groove, a minor deviation to the rhythm that suits and plays well. ‘Chocking on Your Screams’ sees Lemmy’s vocals return to the deep growl of Orgasmatron – and while the sound is good, moody, the whole song itself doesn’t differentiate itself that much. A cover of the Rolling Stones’ Sympathy For The Devil closes the 13 track album and is a Motorised version of the classic, and a breath of fresh air too.
It’s easy to enjoy this album on first listen, it’s Motorhead, it does what it says on the tin. Always has, always will.
And therein lies the issue; the formula, the groove, it’s so in stone it’ll take more than Einstein to disprove that one. ‘Bad Magic’, could equally be Good Magic, or The Same Magic As Before. 7.3/10