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There’s no point in describing Motӧrhead’s sound at this point. I’ll give you guys a hint: on their 22nd album in a near-40 year career, they didn’t start playing mellow progged-out jazz music. Aftershock sees the boys in fine form with a collection of looser, faster and more energetic tunes than you’ve seen on many of their other recent releases. I was one of those who thought The World Is Yours was a weak album, and it was one of the Motӧrhead albums I played the least. I didn’t expect this one to knock my block off so thoroughly, but there you go.
The band just sounds hungry and energized as hell on this album. You get a lot more dynamic on here than the stodgy sound of the last few, and also a lot rawer, more punky performances and songwriting ethic going on – there are fewer spots where they slow down to a midpaced stomp. Now, as much as I enjoyed those tunes from albums like Inferno, I always liked Motӧrhead better when they were just playing fast and furious. On ball-busters like “End of Time” with its down and dirty punk style, and “Death Machine” with its gritty, teeth-gnashing stomping like a horde of wild boars, the band sounds virile and pissed off as hell. Opener “Heartbreaker” and its immediate sequel “Coup de Grace” are both fine Motӧrhead tunes that show the band still kicking ass and able to get way more pussy than most bands starting out now. And “Do You Believe” is just a killer tune, with Lemmy howling away about the glories of a rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle like he hadn’t already done it for 30 years before this. But it’s so good here that I’m giving it a pass.
Not to say that there’s no variety here. “Lost Woman Blues” is a contender for best song here with its slow, bluesy (shockingly enough…) build up and then its raunchy, rocking finish – Lemmy shows off his sensitive side, too. “Dust & Glass” is a weird little psychedelic-style ballad that sort of just serves as a breather between the heavy stompers, but it’s good. “Crying Shame” is the band’s usual 50s-style rock ‘n’ roll ditty with the swingin’ pianos behind the groovy metal riffs, and it rocks – how much charisma can a 67 year old man possibly have? Look no further than Lemmy right here. Bad fucking ass. The best tune has to be “Silence When You Speak to Me,” though – an absolutely crushing song with a bass line that will turn your skeleton to dust by the time it’s over. Just an absolute winner of a song.
The album gets a bit weaker as it goes on, with shorter songs like “Queen of the Damned” and “Paralyzed” not quite living up to the standard of the first half of the album. But on a 14-song album with so many highlights, and from a band this old, I’m inclined not to care about a little filler too much. I mean, even the filler is still pretty damned good in its own right. And seriously, 22 albums in and Motӧrhead sounds like this. That’s just amazing. If they were just going through the motions, that would be one thing, but they’ve got a fire under their collective asses and their material here is as strong as it has been at any point since the early 90s, at least. This is a winner of an album, and I’ve had a lot of fun listening to it this year. Definitely going on the Best of the Year list for ’13. Get it now and let Lemmy show you the light and the way.
Every Motorhead review ever written starts with some statement about the band’s apparent invincibility and unwavering persistence, but their infallible reputation has been slightly shaken over the last year. Iconic vocalist/bassist Lemmy Kilmister’s recent health troubles have caused some alterations to their touring schedule, leading some to question the band’s future as a fully functional unit. Fortunately, Motorhead’s twenty-first studio album adheres to their longstanding status quo while reviving a few tricks that haven’t been seen in some time.
Even with health scares to consider, it’s safe to say the band dynamic hasn’t changed a bit. Lemmy’s vocals retain their slurred but commanding croaks, his ferocious bass playing often leads to guitarist Phil Campbell playing a lot of catch up, and Mikkey Dee’s drumming is as rapid fire as ever. The clear production and chorus-oriented songwriting also make it quite similar to the efforts that have been put out since 2004’s Inferno.
But with there being fourteen tracks on here, more than any other Motorhead album, it does end up being one of their more diverse releases. In fact, it has a fair amount in common with 1977’s Overkill. In addition to many tracks having a less than three minute run time and a fast punk execution, “Lost Woman Blues” plays like a mellower version of “Limb From Limb” and the melancholic “Dust And Glass” has a psychedelic tone that recalls “Metropolis” or “Capricorn.” There’s no track as massive as “Overkill,” but “End Of Time” does come close to matching its intensity.
Of course, having fourteen tracks also means that there are some bits of filler to be found. Even the most casual fan can tell you that there is no such thing as a bad Motorhead song but a number of tracks do run together, especially towards the album’s end. The highlights make up for them as always but even those seem like they needed more development or more dynamic song structures.
Overall, Aftershock has a few tweaks that make it more unique than its most recent predecessors but is about even with them in terms of quality. It doesn’t have the fire to challenge the likes of Inferno but it secures the band’s standing in a more uncertain time. I’m still holding out for a bluesier direction, but the classic aspirations may be enough to recommend it to established fans.
“Lost Woman Blues”
“End Of Time”
“Do You Believe”
“Silence When You Speak To Me”
Originally published at http://psychicshorts.blogspot.com
It’d be easy to take Motorhead for granted, or even to (foolishly) write them off. A recent health scare for main-man Lemmy may have looked like it was going to slow the band down, but thankfully that doesn’t seem to be the case. After almost 40 years now as a band, Motorhead are still touring and releasing music.
Let’s put this in to context for a moment. This is an age in music where there seems to be a great appetite for reunions and bands performing “classic” albums, where reasonably successful musicians of all genres attempt to coast by on past glories. Yet here are Motorhead, arguably the epitome of rock’n'roll, who have penned more classic songs than anyone has a right to, releasing their 21st album a few months after their iconic front-man was hospitalised. Sure, they may play Ace Of Spades and Overkill at every single show, but there’s nothing wrong with giving the fans what they want and playing the classics rather than relying on them. At 67, no one would blame Lemmy for taking it easy and living off of past glories; but that’s not the kind of person he is; and for that we should all be thankful.
Musically, there’s no real surprises here for anyone who’s familiar with Motorhead beyond playing Ace Of Spades on Rock Band; but what might be surprising is just how good the album is. There’s plenty of high-tempo rockers, as well as some slower ones, and they’re as strong as almost anything else the band have recorded. The unmistakable blend of hard rock and heavy metal that forms the basis of the Motorhead sound is present and accounted for, with several tracks reminiscent of their back catalogue. The furious double-bass drum work on End Of Time propels the song along in the same way that Overkill charged ahead, whilst Queen Of The Damned’s bass opening isn’t a million miles away from the first moments of Ace Of Spades. It all still manages to sound modern though, aided by an excellent production job from Cameron Webb, who has also produced the past few Motorhead albums.
That’s not to say that the band is relying on past glories. More that, after so long, the band have their sound well-defined (hell, it was well-defined years ago) and know how to make it work. They’re not going to go all prog on us. Modern trends will pass them by unnoticed. Motorhead will do what Motorhead do, and that’s to sound like Motorhead; and that’s something they do so very well.
But as anyone familiar with the band will know, that doesn’t mean they’re a one-trick pony. They’re perfectly capable of writing something a bit different from time to time. Lost Woman Blues makes that clear early on, and it sounds like what you’d expect from the title. It’s slow, heavy blues, drenched in the atmosphere of rainy nights and dimly-lit bars as Lemmy laments the loss of a woman. The later half speeds things up, but it’s the first half that makes it a truly special song. Dust And Glass at the half-way mark further demonstrates that the band aren’t even close to running out of ideas. It initially sounding like another blues track, but there’s something more to it than that. Lemmy’s singing is as clean as it gets, and the verses have an almost regretful atmosphere not associated with the band. It’s a very successful change, and the faster tracks that follow it benefit from the change of pace it presents.
Even after the initial rush of the album has worn off, it still holds up well. It’d probably be an over-statement to describe it as the band’s best album (though frankly, arguing which one of their 21, mostly excellent albums is best is a pointless exercise), but it’s certainly a very strong record that holds up to repeated listens, and is worthy of note not just for the simple fact that it exists. There’s plenty here to get excited about, and I can’t imagine anyone who likes Motorhead being disappointed by this record.
Originally published at http://thesoundnottheword.wordpress.com/