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In the world of classic metal (or any genre, for that matter,) its usually safe to say that fans will always stick with the classic albums. Fans of groups like Black Sabbath usually stick to the early to mid 1970's material, looking down on the "Technical Ecstasy" and "Never Say Die" records and perhaps even cutting off the band after the departure of Dio. In some bands, this is rather acceptable, the most obvious example being Metallica who hasn't managed to pull off a truly remarkable album since 1988. All of this aside, one band whose more recent catalog is wrongly shunned is no doubt Motorhead, a band whose very legacy is one that embodies consistency and quality.
After a string of successful releases in the 1980's, it appears that Motorhead slipped a little bit on "March or Die." The albums that followed were met with more or less of a mixed reaction, and probably the album most affected by this is "Snake Bite Love." Now, to say Motorhead have never changed as a band is quite untrue, as this album proves. To these ears, I hear some slabs of their usual metal/punk hybrid with boatloads of attitude, but also going off into some stoner territory on occasion. Of course, Motorhead doesn't run off and join the cult of Kyuss clones, but the influence can still be heard here and there.
Its none too difficult to gather that Motorhead hasn't really changed, despite the sometimes mixed bag of influences present here. "Love for Sale" is an excellent reminder of who Motorhead is, with their usual speed metal approach about some erotic lyrical topics that will likely get a smile from several. The title track is similiar in nature, and probably the song that is the most true to this band's classic style. "Take the Blame," "Don't Lie to Me," and "Desperate for You" are all tracks that work in the same manner, establishing further that Motorhead have not conformed to any new musical styles. In some other areas, the band injects some blues influence on "Joy of Labour," which something to be heard in the bars. It isn't quite as clichéd as "You Better Run" off "March or Die," and is more enjoyable altogether. "Dogs of War" is a little more complex, but nothing very noteworthy as a whole.
Now the controversy surrounding this album is generally that the songs aren't as strong as classic Motorhead. Well, no, they aren't considering "Ace of Spades" was 18 years prior to this, a rather long time to be competing with one or two albums. Also, there are a number of skippable to downright silly tracks on this record. "Assassin" is a perfect example of this, which includes some tribal sounding sections in the mix which sounds a little too close to the tribal tendencies of mallcore acts of the time. "Dead and Gone" is half balladic, half usual Motorhead that isn't all that interesting. They did a much better halfway country tune on "Whorehouse Blues" a few years later. "Night Side" is probably the worst offender of these, whose musical composition sounds decent enough but is ruined by that silly chorus. I realize with a band like Motorhead that a few gimmicks might occur here and there, but that song is a little hard to stomach, not to mention a complete throwaway.
Considering Motorhead's entire catalog, this one might actually rank as their lowest. Its still rather noteworthy, as it contains some good songs but there is alot of unmemorable and goofy things going on here. The late 90's were a terrible time for heavy music, so the fact that "Snake Bite Love" manages to eek out over most everything else of the time is saying something. However, its still a decent record for what it is and certainly something the average Motorhead diehard might be interested in seeking. I wouldn't plan on paying alot for it, however, as it doesn't contain enough quality material to warrant a brand new price tag.