British heavy metal band Motörhead, (more specifically vocalist / bassist Lemmy Kilmister) have not been able to enjoy the fortieth anniversary of the band as they / he might have liked due to health issues forcing some concert cancellations and the unfortunate moment at this year’s Glastonbury festival when Lemmy had a mental block leading him to sing “Ace Of Spades” whilst the band played “Overkill”.
As is often the case with bands that had an initial run of success, as Motörhead did with a five album run from 1977-1982, there are always those who consider the line-up from that era – in this case Lemmy, guitarist “Fast” Eddie Clarke and drummer Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor – to be the definite one.
However, in 2015 we find the band comprising of its longest serving line-up of Lemmy, guitarist Phil Campbell (who joined in 1984) and drummer Mikkey Dee (who joined in 1992).
These three have been together as a three-piece for thirteen studio albums since 1996’s “Overnight Sensation”. Prior to that, second guitarist Michael “Würzel” Burston, had been in the band from 1984 until 1995 and Pete Gill and Taylor (for a second time) had taken stints on the drum stool.
Despite the aforementioned bad luck, very much on the plus side this year is the arrival of the band’s twenty-second studio album “Bad Magic”.
Sounding nothing like a band of their vintage, Motörhead come flying straight out of the traps with “Victory Or Die”.
Lemmy sounds great. Granted he’s never been what you might call a great singer, but he has a distinctive rasp and it’s perfect for this band’s output. I suspect, given his age and recent health scares, that producer Cameron Webb has enhanced Lemmy’s voice in the studio, but that’s really nothing to quibble about. And his bass rumbles as menacingly as ever too!
Campbell’s riffs are great and he pulls some superb melodic and memorable solos out of the bag throughout this record, and Dee shows off his chops, particularly on the introduction to “Shoot Out All Of Your Lights” and the closing cover of the Rolling Stones classic “Sympathy For The Devil”.
Basically, anyone who’s heard an album by this band should know pretty much what to expect. Motörhead have their own distinctive style and sound and this record is more of the same. That’s not to say that they’re going through the motions, because to these ears that’s not the case. It’s just that this isn’t a band given to too much experimentation or deviation of sound.
This album is, however, another in a line of strong records over the past decade since 2004’s “Inferno”. My favourite tracks are currently “Thunder & Lightning”, “Shoot Out All Of Your Lights”, “The Devil” and “Tell Me Who To Kill”.
To borrow from Lemmy – this is Motörhead, and they play rock and roll…
“Bad Magic” tracklist:
1. Victory Or Die / 2. Thunder & Lightning / 3. Fire Storm Hotel / 4. Shoot Out All Of Your Lights / 5. The Devil / 6. Electricity / 7. Evil Eye / 8. Teach Them How To Bleed / 9. Till The End / 10. Tell Me Who To Kill / 11. Choking On Your Screams / 12. When The Sky Comes Looking For You / 13. Sympathy For The Devil