31 August 2015

Motörhead - Bad Magic

At one point last year, I did not think this album would be made; a lot of people (like myself) were not writing Motörhead off - only a fool would do that, no what had made that thought appear in our mind was that time had finally caught up with Lemmy and his health started to fail him.  It was looking as if the years of drink, drugs and woman were gonna come asking for the tab to be paid - but Lemmy just changed his poison to Vodka, gave death a look and two fingers and has continued rocking on.  Indeed, he has just took the touring down slightly and he has created a new record here with Phill (Wizzö) Campbell on guitars and Mikkey Dee on drums (who represent the most stable line-up in Motörhead history - being together since Mikkey Dee joined in 1992 (although Wurzel did leave in 1995 to be honest)).  Motörhead have been more busy this time, they have played Glastonbury, they are about to embark on one of those cruise metal tours which are being more popular, their world tour is going to go into 2016 according to their website and they have released this which is their twenty second studio album.  Whilst Lemmy's health has made the press again (altitude sickness in Denver this time), we are not here to cast a worried eye over the health of the man, we are here to listen (or in the readers case - read) about this album and see how this fairs against the rest of their back catalogue.

"Victory or Die" sounds defiant - if death is really approaching Lemmy at this point, then Sir Kilmister is not going to come easy.  It is an explosion from the beginning, there is no sign of slowly down and there is also no hint at stopping any time soon.  The song ponders what it is all about, there is lots of references to war, death, UFOs and not knowing what is going on; generally the whole human condition condensed into three minutes of hard, fast rock 'n' roll.  It is the best opening to a Motörhead album I have heard since "On Your Feet Or On Your Knees" from 'Bastards' - and that song is my favourite track from Motörhead, so that is meant as a huge compliment.  "Thunder & Lightning" follows next and the speed is the key here; it is a song about being in a band and the thrill of being on stage.  It is an honest portrait - as well as the positives, Lemmy lets us know that there are nightmares to overcome as well as dreams to follow, Phill Campbell drops another stunning solo on this song and Mikkey Dee brings the thunder to the track that would have weaker mortals running for cover.  There is no reinventing the wheel here, you would be horrified if they had changed their style, but it is a great Motörhead song once again.  "Fire Storm Hotel" is a very traditional song for Motörhead; it is a rock 'n' roll song just played louder than everything else.  It is Motörhead in a nutshell, slow and steady rock played like the sound of the Gods having a piss up.  Even if Motörhead is not your particular cup of pish (this is spelt correctly +Luke), you cannot deny for what they do, they are the best at creating an almighty racket. With a drum solo introduction, "Shoot out All of Your Lights" bring the speed back to the song.  It sounds like the band are playing whilst a bar room fight is going on around them; if this is Lemmy and co starting to wind down, I think they did not get the memo.  If anything, the opening section of this album is showing that they are more aggressive than before.  They are not taking any prisoners in this song, but death features quite heavily again on this song - obviously you can read a lot into this, but let's leave that for the end of the album.  Track five is called "The Devil" and you are the devil, it is an interest concept for the lyrics, the song itself is another standard stomping number from Motörhead which they can churn out by the 1,000,000; sadly that means it does lose something as you can hear so many of their other songs, you know if it was in the set that some people would not be able to tell it apart from some of their other works.

"Electricity" sparks into life and you are thrown headlong into another high octane rock 'n' roll song that bounces along with an energy and pace that would put a hell of a lot of younger bands to shame.  Is it new? No, I have heard this type of song from them before.  Is it boring?  Fuck no, it sounds like they are just getting warmed up and ready for the next round.  For what it is, you cannot do any better than this for a classic piece of rock 'n' roll; it is another great song on this album which is followed by "Evil Eye".  I will be honest, it is another filler track from Motörhead at this point; you can pick any album track on some of their other albums and it would interchange with this number.  But it still sounds decent and whilst it is by no means original, it is still good for what it is - that high volume rock 'n' roll that just happens to be metal as well.  "Teach Them How To Bleed" does not deviate from the path that this album has been on, they have not really took their foot off the peddle so far on this album and this song bounces past at a fair pace and you are not given a chance to catch your breathe.  It is another song that showcases all the strengths of band; giving the devil a run for his money and making everything louder than everything else - another song which I know I have heard in another format, but I really do not give a damn at the point when it sounds this good.  Then comes "Till the End" which is a slow burner, it is a tale which is looking over the past and there is no regret, no wishing for a change or trying to make amends for what has past.  It reminds me of a song that Lemmy had wrote for Ozzy Osbourne called "See You on the Other Side" from the 'Ozzmosis' album.  The warning that Lemmy is not ready to take life advice is pretty strong here - he is who he is, do not try to make him change or you will not be talking much longer.  I love this song, whilst "Victory or Die" is the storming opener, this is the heart of the album and is now my new favourite Motörhead song.

"Tell Me Who to kill" brings the rock 'n' roll back to the album, another high octane rock 'n' roll number that actually comes across like a punk number in places.  To be honest, would you really expect anything different from Motörhead at this point?  It is doing what they do best and that is all you want from the band; I know it is not going to win originality awards, but it still sounds good and that is all that matters.  Emerging from a cloud of feedback and radio static, "Chocking on Your Screams" which is a tale of the Earth being attack from the point of view of the alien overlords.  It sounds like an old horror movie brought to life in a metal song, it is not a song that does not really work for me; it reminds me of 'The Wait' by Killing Joke, but not quite as charming as that number.  You cannot expect every song to be a gem, sadly this is the case here.  The penultimate track is called "When The Sky Comes Looking For You" and this is more like it; it sounds like the band are trying to take the party with them as they head towards the sun with this album.  It is reflective without resorting to cliché, it sounds like there is more fight left in them and this is not the end of the game.  The album does end with a cover of the Rolling Stone's classic "Sympathy for the Devil", it is one of the best versions of this song I have heard and it does not sound like a tired old tribute.  It sounds as if Lemmy is challenging the devil for his job and might just have the balls to actually pull it off which end the album on a high note.

I hate it when people say that x band's latest release is a return to form, it does the musician's a disservice in my opinion.  Whilst not every Motörhead release has been a stone cold classic, they have always been consistent.  This is once again a very good album from Messrs Campbell, Dee and Kilmister which shows that whilst they may not be in the summer of their years, that you would be a fool to write them off.  It is really easy to look at this record and see it as a fuck you to death from Lemmy, it is never too far from the surface of the album and after the experience (and ongoing healthy worries of the man) it is something that will affect him.  But it only seems to have made him more determined to keep on going with his music and not slow down his passion; he might have had to make changes elsewhere in his life, but there is no compromise with the music.  It is much like the AC/DC album from last year - 'Rock or Bust' (cleverly linked here) - you know what you are going to get and you do not want the formula fucked with too much.  It does the right stuff at the right time, it will keep their fans happy and it might even get some more fans along the way - job well done and a fuck you to death.

8 out of ten - Oh, now you have my attention and maybe my money, time and heart

Top track - Till the End

You can purchase Bad Magic from Amazon here

You can visit the Motörhead album website here (where you can also purchase a version of the album as well)

You can follow the activities of Motörhead on Facebook here

You can stream Bad Magic on Spotify here

You can stream Bad Magic on Deezer now

You can stream Bad Magic on Tidal here

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