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After the instant no.1 they obtained with their first live record No Sleep ‘Til Hammersmith, Motörhead had the big responsibility of putting out a successor that was going to be inevitably ignored behind its predecessor. Lemmy himself admitted they couldn’t do another concert album and a new studio one would be condemned to be inferior to the successful previous work. He considers Iron Fist a bad record, the only he didn’t feel satisfied with and admits that was the only time their usual spontaneous method of writing and composing everything in the last minute didn’t work. However, maybe he’s being excessively self-critical, these songs might not be the finest they ever did but have some brilliance.
The band isn’t offering anything alternative or unpredictable in these tunes, just more of their characteristic raw had rock. “(Don’t Let ‘Em) Grind Ya Down” or “Bang To Rights” for instance are still excellent, effectively executed rock & roll of tough riffs and basic structures in a truly passionate performance that doesn’t require any peculiar technical configuration to sound good. Nothing we didn’t hear before, no surprise, no changes, still completely amusing stuff plenty of energy, attitude, properly developed. Cuts like “(Don’t Need) Religion” and “Shut It Down” might not make a big difference either, though these guys keep proving their instrumental efficiency constructing memorable music from a very direct leading riff, a few consistent structures and a bunch of vivid lyrics. Motörhead’s traditional scheme didn’t fail this time, as the strength and quality of heavier compositions like the opening title-track or “Sex & Outrage” demonstrate. The most rapid stuff in the pack is the most enjoyable too, with splendid moments on “Heart Of Stone” and “Speedfreak” with Phil’s raging loose rhythms and Eddie’s killer lines combined together in ideal harmony, supported by Lemmy’s omnipresent precise bass parts building a remarkably tremendous wall of sound, untamed, wild. On other hand, you can find more melodic numbers here, like “Loser” or “America” including repetitive discreet riffs and an immaculate definition, whose choruses feature Lemmy getting sentimental and melodramatic for a second, giving them an unusual melancholy essence no other song in the whole record has. Words on “Go To Hell” are more punkish, violent and slightly explicit without losing Mr. Kilmister’s lyrical elegance, he never wrote empty vain lyrics.
The general result isn’t bad at all, these songs are musically competent and strong, some pretty unforgettable and aggressive although all seem to lack the inspiration of previous Motörhead attempts. The way this material is constructed and its development are totally professional, there’s neither absence of continuity nor any trace of instrumental weakness but some cuts are rather common, slightly empty and too predictable. The band has used during their almost 40 years of existence the same formula with no particular modification and results have always been magnificent in each record, here too because these guys sound as passionate and motivated as usual but the biggest weak spot is related with exhaustion. Something similar happened to Deep Purple after their also incredible live album Made In Japan, the following studio work didn’t have the intensity and vibrant aggression the group performed on stage. It’s clear Lemmy and co. tried their best in this truly serious effort with no fillers or previous classics song-sequels. However, there’s not much diversity, they mostly follow a similar uniform pattern, making difficult to notice distinctive differences between each cut. Lyrics are as eloquent as always, one of the indispensable cons of the record fortunately, defined with charisma and attitude by Lemmy’s surprisingly raspy dirty voice this time. His vocals are absolutely unpolished in contrast with Eddie’s cleaner bluesy lines, which might get kinda noisy and distorted at times, though they’re mostly controlled and more refined than usual. He didn’t seem to have much problems producing this, he already did it admirably well with Tank’s debut, so he does here. But maybe if they could’ve afford Tsangarides the result would be different, who knows.
Their immature homonym debut lacked experience, Bomber lacked inventiveness and this one lacks inspiration and grace but none of those 3 underrated Motörhead words should be forgotten, even if they didn’t reach the level of their second and fourth album masterpieces. Sooner or later, every group makes a minor record, though Lemmy and the boys were one of those few that managed to give their large discography catalog continuity, achieving a high level release after release with just some decent exceptions like this. Luckily, we all know this was only a transitory decline; soon the band recovered his magic and splendor later, even without the contribution of Eddie or Phil (Taylor).
After releasing the mighty "Ace Of Spades" and having won critical praise with their live album, how on Earth could Motörhead top themselves? Easy! By releasing a relentless, no holds barred album in the shape of "Iron Fist". Released in 1982, "Iron Fist" sees Motörhead fully grasping their place in the hard rock/heavy metal world.
By this time, hardcore punk and the very first seeds of thrash were already evident in the British music scene. Bands like GBH, The Exploited and Discharge weren't afraid to show their loyalty to Motörhead and Venom wanted to be just like them with a Satanic angle. It's no coincidence that "Iron Fist" was the band's most intense, brutal and fastest album to date.
The production (done by Fast Eddie) was intense and gave a better balance to all the instruments. The sound is considerably more modern than on "Ace Of Spades" and by the same token, slightly cleaner. The title track is truly intense and other songs such as "Sex And Outrage", "Heart Of Stone" and "Speedfreak" could easily pass by as hardcore punk tunes due to the sheer brutality and speed. Slower songs such as "Don't Need Religion", "Loser" and "America" are just as intense.
I still have trouble reading reviews that say this album's a "let down". Let down in what way? This was the last album done by the "classic" line-up of Fast Eddie, Phil Taylor and Lemmy. Their next album, "Another Perfect Day", although quite good, was a much more tamer affair than this. It's true that "Ace Of Spades" gets all the accolades and recognition but very close to it I'd put "Iron Fist".
If you want pure, undiluted Motörhead in their primest of primes, do yourselves a favor and buy this classic album!
The general consensus is that Motörhead hit something of a slump right before revamping their lineup and cutting ties with long time guitarist Eddie Clark. A lot of it hinges on the fact that Eddie produced the album, and as a result, aided in putting forth an inferiorly realized product that sounded almost like a throwback to their 1977 sound, but with the hindsight of “Overkill” and “Ace Of Spades” in the songwriting. In a sense, this is the correct way to view “Iron Fist”, though the actual sound of this album isn’t terribly out of character for Motörhead, nor is it something that really takes too much away from the album.
For those who might only be casually aware of how the 1977-82 era of the band sounds through the regular radio play of “Ace Of Spades”, the format is ruggedly simple and drenched with enough attitude to tattoo the listener without need of human hands. Pile on the bluesy rock riffs, played at tempos just a tad bit too ridiculously fast for most harder edged punk rock outfits, a bass sound that is as raunchy and guitar-like as they come, and a voice loaded with rasp and cigarette tar and it all becomes crystal clear. In essence, this album offers a sense of newness only in the respect that the party has gotten just a little meaner.
The usual strong points that typified this album’s immediate predecessors follow suit here in a solid collection of fast paced speed metal and slightly less speedy metal. The album just sort of starts off at a sprinting pace, slows down to a moderately fast stride from time to time, and then kicks the afterburners on yet again. The obvious favorite of the pack is the title song and the near equally intense “Speedfreak”, both of which are heavily reminiscent of “Ace Of Spades”, though loaded up with about twice as much bluesy solo guitar work and slightly more edge. “Sex And Outrage” kicks it up to almost the same level, but just passes by a tad bit too quickly, hinting at perhaps being one of two songs that were put on the album in an unfinished state according to Lemmy.
Despite generally smashing skulls with the power of a pair of tempered steel knuckles, “Iron Fist” kind of descends into retro-rock territory on a couple songs and plays it a little too safe. Slower rock anthems like “Loser” and “America” sound like they were literally lifted out of the dregs of early 70s clichés and given a slightly rougher exterior. Likewise, the tediously repetitive “(Don’t Need) Religion” just hangs onto this riff that sounds like it was partially lifted off of Ted Nugent for way too long. Generally Lemmy’s scratchy shouts don’t work well on songs like these as they have a more consonant character to them that he hasn’t proven able to replicate. Essentially, these songs are not nasty enough to fit his voice, not to mention that the riffs come off as a little stagnant and recycled.
All things considered, “Iron Fist” could be seen as something of a disappointment in that it has found itself caught between two utterly fantastic albums from two completely different eras, and as being the last offering with the guitarist that put all those signature riffs to their late 70s offerings and the rightly heralded “Ace Of Spades”. But speaking in terms of the album in itself, it is a solid studio achievement that deserves some praise in that it shows a band capable of getting the job done without a professional producer. A few songs on here are utterly essential, and most of the rest are solidly good, so like with most of Motörhead’s extensive library of empty beer cans and bad breath, the smart money was spent procuring this at the local music exchange.
As one of the most celebrated and long-lasting metal bands around, Motorhead has an extensive discography. Not counting the unofficial first album and the eccentric Another Perfect Day, there are primarily three eras ofMotorhead: the '76-'82 Eddie Clarke era, the '84-'95 Würzel/Phil Campbell era and the '95-current day solo Phil Campbell era. Most tend to associate the Clarke era as "classic Motorhead" due to albums such as Ace of Spades, who's title track may be the most well-known Motorhead song there is, and Overkill. All of the albums are well-regarded metal classics to most while some involving Campbell can be be a bit hit or miss though Clarke's 6 year tenure is short compared to his (sort of) successor's 25 year long stint. Iron Fist is the end of Clarke's time in the band and he'd depart soon not doing much of note afterwards. While Iron Fist is regarded as one of the weaker albums of the Clarke period, I still find it to be very good.
Bearing a lot of similarity to it's predecessor two years earlier, it's typical Motorhead rock 'n rollish metal. Lemmy rumbles along on his bass and spits out lyrics on various subjects with his usual rasp. Eddie blazes on his guitar with bluesy solos and leads while Phil accompanies Lemmy on rhythm and pounds his drums into the ground. Production-wise, the album is clean and clear, a much better job than the following album with Robbo, but the guitar is a bit thin compared to earlier records. Not to say it vanishes like on Orgasmatron, but a crunchier sound probably would have helped it retain a fonder memory in fan's heads. The songwriting is similar in approach to Ace of Spades, but I feel is better done. I never could get into that album for reasons beyond me. It's enjoyable, but I'd much rather listen to almost any other Motorhead album released before or after. Iron Fist improves almost in all areas and is a much more enjoyable ride.
‘Iron Fist’ was and is all things considered a bit of a let down. The previous 3 Motörhead records were thoroughly excellent, particularly ‘Overkill’ and ‘Ace of Spades’ which set a new standard for loud, fast and Philthy rock ‘n’ roll. Lemmy admits that the band got way too complacent after the success of ‘No Sleep Till Hammersmith’ which to this day remains the bands only number 1 album, well in the UK at least. As such ‘Iron Fist’ is a weaker album, directionless and features a couple of unfinished songs. But as it's Motörhead its still quite good.
‘Fast’ Eddie Clarke handles production on what is his last Motörhead album. This has been a point of contention for many fans, people absolutely despise this production. However, a slightly thinner sound is not ‘Iron Fist’s real problem and in actual fact this “raw as a badgers arse” sound is very much suited to Motörhead. Although many the line up of Eddie, Phil and Lemmy is widely recognised as the classic Motörhead line up from the sheer lack of development (yes, Motörhead do actually change and develop just their too good at it, so you don’t really realise) and sonic stagnation on display here I feel it was a necessary step for Eddie to leave.
‘Iron Fist’ does despite my criticism feature some awe inspiring songs and these make more than essential listening for Motörhead fans. The title track occupies a place in the bands encores to this day, simply because it’s a classic, too fast, dangerous and brimming with a rock ‘n’ roll attitude sadly lacking in a lot of today’s…um rock ‘n’ roll. The lyrics happen to be some of Lemmy’s finest too with a menace and darkness he rarely displays, ‘Sacrifice’ is another example of this. ‘Go to Hell’ in my mind is a Motörhead classic, some very memorable riffs from Eddie and good-love-gone-bad type lyrics…because remember children, women are bad and should not be trusted. ‘Loser’ is one of the more interesting songs on ‘Iron Fist’, the sliding riffs aren’t typically Motörhead by numbers and the song catchy on the whole. ‘(Don't Let 'Em) Grind You Down’ is a more mid paced number at which the band excel (Motörhead never really get any recognition for doing a lot of mid paced numbers…which probably felt like funeral dirges to a band who did so much speed, the drug not the tempo...but probably the tempo too).
Sadly the much of ‘Iron Fist’ is forgettable and often comes across as with a feeling of déjà vu…as the band had done it before and better. ‘Heart of Stone’ is perhaps the worst example of this, Lemmy says ‘Iron Fist’ features two unfinished songs and I’m guessing this is one of them as I’d like to believe Lem wouldn’t submit such a mediocre exercise in speed as a finished product. ‘(Don’t Need) Religion’ isn’t bad per se its just a blatant rip off of Ted Nugent’s ‘Cat Scratch Fever’ and no where near as good, Motörhead seem to have a thing for Special Ted as they covered the aforementioned track (badly might I add) on ‘March or Die’. There are some other good songs on ‘Iron Fist’ namely ‘Speedfreak’ but much of it descends into a bland Motörheady mush and that’s not something I’d like to say about one of my favourite bands.
Somewhat surprising on such a comparatively weak album (Motörhead don’t do real stinkers…well maybe ‘Snake Bite Love’) is that the performances are great and energetic. ‘Fast, but probably the slowest guitarist in Motörhead’ Eddie Clarke is a magical player, he’s so simple yet effective, Eddie generally only uses simple chords and as such when he puts an extra 5th in a power chord he sounds immense…even more so than usual. Eddie’s playing shows economic guitar playing at its best; no bollocks but all balls. Philthy Animal pre ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll’ as always is a great drummer the logical successor to the unrestrained energy of the late great Keith Moon. Lemmy is well just Lemmy, no surprises…everything you want.
‘Iron Fist’ is a weaker album from the band and is in the unenviable position of being sandwiched in between many superior albums, its sad that Eddie’s swansong in Motörhead is a tad patchy, ending the era with a whimper.
Motorhead's last album with Fast Eddie Clarke on guitars is an alcohol drenched, speed-fueled rampage of sex and fast living. Iron Fist my all-time favorite album by the band. And let's face it, after more than 30 years Motorhead is more than just a band: it's a way of life and I've got the tattoo to prove it.
It seems that the band itself doesn't regard the album as highly as some fans do:Iron Fist has been called "subpar" in comparison with the others. And internal relationships were strained by the time of the album's release. This is the only reason I deducted a point from my score. You simply can't go wrong with any of these songs, all of them are the classic Motorhead sound, catchy as hell and all of them kick like a mule. This is down-and-dirty heavy metal the way it was meant to be played. Songs range from midpaced heavy rockers ("America") to full-on speed assaults such as the title track and "Speed Freak," which has some awesome ovedubbed guitar work courtesy of Fast Eddie. Although the guitar riff to "(Don't Need) Religion" has been compared to "Cat Scratch Fever," the lyrics are hilarious and sum up Lemmy's (as well as my own) feelings on the subject. Make sure to get the re-release which has some essential bonus tracks and alternate versions.
Motorhead is one of the essential groups in Heavy Metal history, niched comfortably between Judas Priest and Venom in the historical scheme of things. They combined metal, punk and the blues in a way that no other band could possibly imagine, and they're still rocking today. You owe it to yourself to get this album and bang that head like a maniac. "Devils grip, the Iron Fist!," Hell yeah!