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As with covering "Snake Bite Love," the 1990's material of Motorhead is generally met with mixed reactions from fans. This is understandable, considering Motorhead is a classic band and classic bands are generally best known for the material they did early on, or at least the albums that made them famous. From there, its a slew of notable albums that usually don't get talked about that much. Yet after the rather mediocre "March or Die," anything would have been a nice change of pace, and the shifting back to attitude-driven metal/punk madness in "Bastards" is just what the doctor ordered.
"Bastards" seems to fire out more unapologetic, straight-forward heavy metal than previous releases, not to mention dropping some of the punk influence to greater emphasize the metal aspect. The opener in "On Your Feet or On Your Knees" is a perfect example of this, and a very good peek into what lies in store for the listener. "Born to Raise Hell" gets even better, and with a powerful and catchy chorus, is sure to be a barnburner wherever it gets played. "I'm the Man" is also a worthy headbanger, more remembrances of the classic Motorhead design.
Now some songs also deviate from the standard Motorhead sound, but are nonetheless good mentions. "Death and Glory" is a powerful number, infusing more of the punk influences with the general heavy metal approach found elsewhere on this listen. "Bad Woman" is a favorite of mine, which comes with some heaping helpings of Southern influence which makes for an interesting and unique listen on this album. Campbell and Wurzel also spice up things here with some nice solo work, something that is seemingly lacking as a whole on this album.
Unfortunately, not everything is great about "Bastards," despite the good things going for it. "Don't Let Daddy Kiss Me" is an acoustic misfire, not to mention being totally out of place in the track listing. "We Bring the Shake" isn't that notable, though not necessarily bad, but ultimately a throwaway. In addition to this, as I mentioned in the previous paragraph, the soloing isn't that commendable here. There are a few good ones here and there, but overall not that impressive which is not what I was expecting out of this band and the talent present.
"Bastards" isn't an album that Motorhead fans will likely be celebrating, but its still a fine testament to this band's ability to carry on regardless of time frame. Keep in mind that it was 1993, the golden age of the musical wasteland known as grunge and the "alt" rock explosion of that era, but by the sounds of Motorhead, you wouldn't guess it. If "Bastards" teaches us nothing else, its that even in one of the most trendy eras in music history, when everyone and their mother starting adorning tattered flannel and half-ass musical abilities, Motorhead carried on in reliable fashion. "Bastards" isn't an exceptional release, but even compared to some finer Motorhead albums, its definitely a respectable release in an era when piss poor excuses for music were running rampant and out of control.