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Motorhead comes back with a fucking vengeance here... after the so-so efforts on the last few albums, THIS one is just a fucking destroyer of worlds. From the get-go, you hear that this one is for real. Time to get down to business, let us prey!! The riff of Terminal Show kicks in immediately, and the album just does not fucking let up with the thrash/speed madness through the extended solo, and then the song Killers, and then... what's this, a raging THRASHER??? That's right, In the Name of Tragedy is a punk/thrash number with a bit of Laaz power, but with Lemmy and Motorhead doing their thing as only Lemmy and Motorhead can. Gang choruses and all, THIS is just about the best Motorhead song since the Sacrifice LP and the underrated "Dog Faced Boy". Extremely catchy, like nothing else can be.
Suicide's a six minute epic slow-burn, and then "Life's a Bitch" starts off with a blues-punk lick before going into - what's this, more fucking speed metal? Lemmy is approximately 82 years old at this point, and here his testicles have grown large enough to be qualified for statehood as set forth in the United States Constitution. No small feat, given that this is LEMMY, and his testicles were never a question.
Just remember... Life's a Bitch!
Down on Me comes back with the guitar/bass tuneage sounding like Motorhead of old... on a lot of the songs the production is a lot more guitar-oriented than some of the previous Motorhead works. It's certainly not a bad thing, but here is what we have been expecting - a song like this. Ten songs like this would make a competent Motorhead album, but the thing with Motorhead is that despite the fact that all their songs are instantly recognisable as Motorhead, they don't pull an AC/DC and sound all the same - this one sounds more like something off Sacrifice or Burner, and that is the contribution to the album.
In the Black - the complex chorus (!), and yet again another song instantly identifiable as Motorhead, and throw in another simple-but-oh-so-effective thrash riff. HEAR ME TALKIN!! Like that old Anthrax song, except this is Motorhead... one would be tempted to think of Motorhead falling behind the bandwagon - releasing something that sounds 1986, when they've been releasing stuff that sounds 1986 since oh about 1979... it is tempting to think that they sold out, pussied out, and made generic shit metal like so many power/speed/thrash bands of the mid-80s, each more generic than the last. Somehow, this is not the case. Somehow, this is refreshing - and not quite in that retro sense like a band like Dekapitator... this is Motorhead, and Motorhead are fucking eternal, and they can play whatever the fuck that they want, and they'll always be fucken Motorhead.
Fight... "Turn the bass up, will ya?" Another speedy burner... then the last few songs are a bit slower, but still effective. They're not QUITE the one-two-three punch of the opening trilogy (which may be the best opening trilogy of any Motorhead studio album!)... still, they are excellent. Year of the Wolf is melodic speed metal, but still sufficiently aggressive to not be mistaken for Stratovarius. A simple, catchy melody line, accentuated by riffs and vocals. The classic Motorhead formula. Then, throw in Keys to the Kingdom, which is a midpaced blues-metal number that somehow reminds me of Saxon... a triumph of midpaced crunch.
Smiling Like a Killer is one final blast of hyperspeed, though more simplistic and punkish than previous speed-burners on the album. Chorus with a drum fill, simple riff pattern... yeah, this song probably took about five minutes to write, but ya know what, it fucken works, because this ain't Dream Theater and this ain't rocket science... if they can crank out the filler material, and even the filler material is pretty fucken good, more power to 'em. Motorhead caught a blast of inspiration, and rode it all the way to the bloody end.
The bloody end? Heh, sounds like a Johnny Cash song more than anything else... you'd think it makes no sense, but here it is another tribute to the absolute BRILLIANCE of Lemmy and pals. They've been punk, they've been rock 'n roll... they've been speed fucken metal, and now they're clean-picked acoustic guitar, sounding like a dark country song... not fucken Shania Twain, I mean real tr00 country, with shootin' men in Reno (just to watch them die). I have no idea if this was an intentional tribute to Johnny Cash, but it totally sounds like it. Throw in the harmonica, and the reflective lyrics (ya know, life's full of surprises... you know, we do that too) and one comes up with one Hell of an enjoyable song. This isn't the song that'll make your lawn die, but this is still completely as MOTORHEAD as it gets. Excellent closer.
When all is said and done - this is a very good Motorhead album. It starts with an all-killer bang, and even after 12 songs doesn't get tired. It's not quite as consistent as "Sacrifice", or as historically completely over the fucking top as "No Sleep 'til Hammersmith", but it goes to show that Motorhead are completely fucking immortal.