MOTÖRHEAD – Bad Magic

3102259357There is one big reason for us all to worry about the future of Motörhead – Lemmy’s health. Lemmy – the man who once was the guy who, beside Keith Richards, was supposed to outlive us all, the dudes who would rule the planet with only cockroaches as pets after the final blow. Well, that man’s hard living has finally caught up with him. Lemmy turns 70 on Christmas Eve and the fact that he has lived this long is nothing but a miracle – the same can be said of Keith and also of Ozzy Osbourne, I guess. Cancelled tours and gigs have been following Motörhead in the last couple of years and at the gigs where they actually did play, Lemmy both looked and sounded old and tired. 2015 was the year when we all have to ask ourselves whether this, their new album would be their last and the same for the following tour – if they actually manage to go out on one this time. But no matter how Lemmy has been feeling in later years, one thing he has never given in to is the quality of Motörhead’s records. Sure, it’s not like they will make another Overkill (1979), Bomber (1979), Ace Of Spades (1980) or even a 1916 (1991) or a March Ör Die (1992), but the fact is that many of Motörhead’s later releases has been damn good ones. In particular, I think that the two latest records The Wörld Is Yours (2010, reviewed here) and Aftershock (2013, reviewed here) are two albums that show a very vital and kicking Motörhead, far removed from sickness and death. But as I wrote, the reality is a completely different beast and Lemmy’s lifestyle with lots of alcohol, drugs and cigarettes had to take its toll sooner or later. Lemmy is only human like the rest of us, after all, even though we all sometime like to believe otherwise. The fact that there is no life without music for Lemmy has been evident for ages now and shitloads of kudos to him for never wanting to stop and that he / they keep delivering the goods after almost 50 years in the business. And because of that, a new Motörhead album will always bring big expectations. Out of all the 23 studio albums Motörhead have recorded only a few stands out as somewhat mediocre and none of them can be called bad, not even if you try. In other words, it’s time to rock with again with Motörhead and as usual, I do it with a smile.

“Victory Or Die” is a kick-ass opener and a classic Motörhead groover that proves that nothing has changed in the Motörhead camp. And why should it? Just like in the AC/DC case, we know what we want and we want nothing else. Some bands need to change and some don’t. Motörhead don’t. “Thunder And Lightning” takes us back to both the 70’s and the 90’s as the song sound like the perfect mix of “Motorhead” and “I’m So Bad (Baby I Don’t Care)” – great! “Fire Storm Hotel” is Motörhead-heavy and I’m getting a March Ör Die vibe from it, but there is something almost Rolling Stones-ish over both melodies and guitar parts here. It suits them very well and I really dig it. “Shoot Out All Of Your Lights” is really catchy with melodies that are really Pop, everything done in a heavy and very Motörhead way, of course. “The Devil” is the first track that passes by unnoticed, it’s hard, fast, aggressive and screams Motörhead all the way, but it still goes nowhere for me. “Electricity” is more of the same as the previous song, but this song has a big Pop feel and some really catchy riffs and melodies – Hard Rock ‘n’ Roll is how I would describe it. “Evil Eye” is heavy, brutal and dark and has Lemmy almost growling in his lowest register. It sounds really cool, but unfortunately, the song is pretty mediocre. “Teach Them How To Bleed” is another track that it feels like I have heard a million times before with this band, a decent Motörhead track that is mostly forgettable. One thing that Lemmy is not that known for are ballads, but fact is, Lemmy happen to be a really good balladeer. Just think about “Love Me Forever” or “I Ain’t No Nice Guy”, both songs are awesome. Here comes the next one – “Till The End”. Of course, this is no cheesy Bon Jovi-like power ballad, when Motörhead does them they are always heavy and dark. And hard! A killer! “Tell Me Who To Kill” is a straight forward, plain Motörhead rocker – no more, no less, but it’s a damn good song. “Choking On Your Screams” is real bad-ass and has Lemmy once again singing in his darkest and lowest register which gives this dark and heavy rocker an evil sound – brilliant! “When The Sky Comes Looking For You” is Motörhead Rock ‘n’ Roll with an amazing groove, a fast beat, very catchy and rocking like crazy – to me, this is what Motörhead is all about. As the last song on the album lies the one I was the most curious of – their cover of Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy For The Devil”. The original version is pure brilliance and no one will ever beat it. Guns N’ Roses tried and failed miserable and to be frank here, I didn’t think it would suit Motörhead one bit – a pretty weird choice for a cover for this band. But I was wrong – Motörhead totally nails it and Lemmy sounds very convincing singing Mick Jagger’s words. Let’s just say that they got the song motörized.

Once again, Motörhead has released a high quality record even though the odd fillers showed up. I wrote that Motörhead never changes, but that is not entirely true, they do change, but the changes are minor. And no matter the changes, they always end up sounding exactly just like they should – they sound like Motörhead. Remember, back in the 80’s there was no way in Hell that Lemmy & co. would even consider writing a ballad. Since the 90’s, both ballads, catchy hit songs (“Hellraiser”), horn sections and acoustic guitars has found their way on to their albums, but it doesn’t matter, they always sound like Motörhead anyway. To me this album is better than Aftershock, but doesn’t quite reach the heights of The Wörld is Yours, a record I hail as a modern Motörhead classic. Lemmy’s bad health isn’t something that has left any marks on this record, quite the contrary, Lemmy, guitarist Phil Campbell and drummer Mikkey Dee sounds remarkably fresh and vital still. I love the fact that Motörhead refuses to become a nostalgia act that just travels around and plays the hits. At 70, Lemmy is still a creative force to be reckoned with and the same goes for Phil and Mikkey and as long as they can deliver great albums like this, I hope they go on forever!

8/10

Tracklist:

1. Victory Or Die
2. Thunder And 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

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