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One would think after a while, Motörhead's brand of punked up sleazy rock metal would get tiring. Sure, there are times when they do sound a bit worse for wear, even though there are always a few good songs to thrash along to. And every now and then this old dog just rips the opposition apart with albums that harken the halcyon days of the early 1980's. We Are Motörhead is definitely one such album.
At its heart we have Motörhead at their most metallic. As you would expect there are still plenty of punk and rock bits but overall this is pure speed metal bliss. The riffs are, for the most part, fast and furious and even at times even modern in a late 1990's kind of way. But, importantly, they maintain that memorable Motörhead vibe the band has been known for.
There is an aggression and energy here that even young bands struggle to attain. Lemmy's trademark delivery is superb and would not be out of place on Overkill or Ace Of Spaces. He does tone it down for the softer and heartfelt "One More Fucking Time" which is an absolutely Motörhead classic in this author's mind.
If one has to fault the album, it would be in its relative short running time of a mere 38 minutes. The title track pummels along and then nothing, despite the listener being ready for more furious yet catchy riffage, more Lemmy and certainly more beer. In many ways that's not a criticism. After all like most good things in life, you want just enough to leave you wanting more!
Once upon a time, in a land across the sea, a young man was struggling to find his way. He was named Ian Fraiser Kilmister. Now, this young boy wasn't the best looking dude in school, and what's on every guy's minds? Girls. But how to get them? He just couldn't figure that one out. Poor Ian. Till one day he noticed another young lad surrounded by girls. He looked at him and tried to figure out what was so special about him, and then it hit him: That smart-boy had brought a guitar school! So the next day, Ian borrowed his mother's guitar and took it to school, and he was also surrounded by girls.
So began the story of the legend; Lemmy Kilmister and his infamous band, Motorhead.
"In those days just having a guitar was enough....that was it". - Lemmy
The rest...well, I highly doubt little Ian could've foreseen it. Devoted fans. Nearly 20 albums. Sold out shows. And for little Ian's own pleasure, a never ending amount of groupies. Yes, this is Motorhead, the band that dressed up in Santa Clause outfits, got piss drunk, and flicked people off. The same band that's been called "The loudest loons in the universe!" (Guinness Book of World Records). And while they've had their dips here and there, like with the album "Sacrifice", these bad boys have been able to stick true to their roots of being rude, fast, and heavy. They've been handed the medal for inventing 'Speed Metal', and they're some of the founding fathers of the 'Hard Rock' genre. And throughout constant line-up changes, one man has been through it all: Lemmy. He's been there since the beginning. From the 4-man, to 3-man, back to 4-man, and back to 3-man line-ups, Lemmy has never abandoned his spot as the distortion loving bassist and the primitive sounding vocalist. So it should only be far to say that this is HIS band, for without Lemmy, Motorhead wouldn't be who they are today.
And what could've been a better possible way for these fellows to kick start the new millennium with some good ole fashioned dirty Rock 'N' Roll? This is "We Are Motorhead", and it sums up their career this far as being one of the premiere names in the Rock industry and proves to the world that they can expect to see Motorhead drinking beer and playing loud in the coming years.
Kicking off with the un relentless "See Me Burning", Lemmy and co. are out to show us that they have no intention of going into a retirement home anytime soon. Mikey Dee's drum solo/intro is incredible, as it features some blasting double bass patterns. The song is crunched-heavy, featuring mainly thick palm mutes and flowing guitars during the bridge. It's urgent right from the beginning, and never lets up the feeling that it wants to get somewhere fast. "Slow Dance" takes the exact opposite approach, as it is what the name implies. A chugging, head banging rhythm section dominates the song with Mikey D sealing it all with some tight-nit drumming. The song is noticeably slower than "See Me Burning", but it's a definite thrasher all around. "Stay Out of Jail" brings back in the speed element, with an opening riff that seems to have been injected with a shot of 'Blues' before it cuts itself off to flow right into a straight-up punk-esque verse. It's got the most melody out of all the songs so far, courtesy of Phil's unique guitar playing. Now, if Motorhead was gonna do a cover, it better be good, cause I don't think I could ever see them working out something other than their own. Well, I was kinda wrong. "God Save the Queen" is a cover of a Sex Pistols song, and all that punk-anarchy energy is transferred perfectly over. It's also one of the best songs of the album...ironic, huh?
Groove era Motorhead has always contained some of my favorite songs, like "One to Sing the Blues", so when I heard "Out to Lunch", I knew I was in for a treat. It's got that old-school 80's rock vibe just screaming out about it, with a slightly banshee-screeching guitar. The next song is the only one that I don't really care for on this album, "Wake the Dead". It's undeniably heavy, but it doesn't seem to want to take off in any direction other than that. It just pounds away, and there's no sense of power or anything throughout which makes it stick out like a sore thumb in the 'sub-par' category. Lemmy does have a kickin' bass lick that he throws in every now and then as some sort of redeeming factor. And as a staple with later releases, they've got a balled-type song. And just like all of the others, this one is a gem. "One More F*cking Time". It features a serene guitar that floats all over the song, and during the chorus the distortion is kicked up to make it into more of a Power-Ballad. It's a wonderful change of pace. And then coming straight out of the undisturbed atmosphere set by "One More F*cking Time", "Stagefright/Crash and Burn" comes blasting away with a blasting guitar and Mikey Dee giving his bass drum a complete workout. The same intensity is featured throughout the album, making it one hell of a thrasher. "(Wearing Your) Heart On Your Sleeve" is virtually the same way, which makes the two great to listen to together for a quick one-two punch of power. The final song, and also the title track, is also the best on the album. "We Are Motorhead" sounds like something that could've been straight off of "Ace of Spades". Lemmy's plugging bass intro is almost virtually the same as on the song "Ace of Spades", and it's more punk-feel gives it that true old-school Motorhead feel. It's the shortest song on the album, but it's also the one that'll get your blood pumping faster than anything else featured on this album. A perfect way to close the album.
Now, Phil Campbell is a talented guitarist. His solos off of albums (combined with Wurzel's) like "1916" and "Rock 'N' Roll" were downright sick. So when he got into a slump on "Sacrifice" and put out horrible ones, and even songs that didn't have them, I became to doubt him. And sure enough, after "Sacrifice", the sub-par playing was carried over to "Overnight Sensation". But not on here. On this album, Phil unleashes his talent, flinging off some of his best work. Most of these solos here are your typical 'shred-till-you-drop' type solos, with no thought on melody. Tracks like "See Me Burning" and especially "Stagefright/Crash and Burn" feature long-drawn out insane solos from Phil's fingertips. And when they do get melodic, like on "One More F*cking Time", it's just sheer beauty mixed with aggression. The only track that really doesn't feature a solo would be "Wake the Dead", but I already wasn't too fond of the riffs to begin with so it doesn't bother me that much.
And Lemmy...ohhh Lemmy. How you haven't changed. Nor has his band. His voice is still as rash and self-confident sounding as ever. His throaty shout dominates this album more so than in the past, since most of these songs have a bit more grit to them. One listen to the opener, "See Me Burning", and you know Lemmy is back in business. There's hardly any melody here, just Lemmy clearing out the old-vocal pipes. And when he does actually sing on "One More F*cking Time", the result is a more than just average; it's near perfect. Believe it or not, the guy has a very calm, low-keyed singing voice that perfectly matches Phil's guitar. And his lyrics are still as rip-roaring as ever. "See Me Burning" has Lemmy proudly exclaim "Come on over later, bring your sister, I swear to you she won't be in the way". One can only wonder what Lemmy wants to do with those two girls. But the absolute best lyrics, and possibly of all time for Lemmy (maybe tied with "Brave New World") are off the title track. They're self-loathing, egotistical, and just openly blatant. "We bring you attitude and razor teeth to bite, We bring machine gun law and we're the ones to blame. We are the ones you need, the ones that you despise. We are the ones who wanna poke you in the eye.".
"We Are Motorhead" rushed these guys straight into the new millennium with no signs of slowing down. Phil's riffs and solos are great, Mikey Dee's drum work is fantastic, and Lemmy shows that not even age can suppress him. And with only one weak track ("Wake the Dead"), it's not hard to recommend this album to any fan of Hard Rock/Metal.
Overall Rating - 4/5 (80)
Oh yes, I saved the best lyrics for last from the title track, it seems up Motorhead's career brilliantly:
"We are Motorhead...Born to kick your a*s!"
Tracks to check out
See Me Burning
One More F*cking Time
We Are Motorhead
As most of you probably know, Motörhead plays quite raw and rocky heavy metal, sometimes bordering on speed metal. We Are Motörhead is not different. All of the songs are straightforward rockers except for two tracks. God Save the Queen is a Sex Pistols cover but it is a lackluster version of an average song. The only not-straightforward song of the album is One More Fucking Time which is a ballady tune that sticks up best from the crowd but in the end it turns out to be quite boring a song. The song just drones on for much too long though it clocks in at 6:46.
Of the rockers Out To Lunch and Wake the Dead are the two best cuts of the bunch. They just flow much better than the rest of the songs. The first two songs See Me Burning and Slow Dance on the other hand are the weakest with See Me Burning not flowing at all and Slow Dance being one of the most boring songs by Motörhead.
The weakest point of the whole album is plainly that the material just doesn't cut it on the long run. All of the songs sound fine the first couple of spins but after that you realize how shoddily they are built and get bored with them. We Are Motörhead is an entertaining album but on the long run it is useless.
Bizarrely lauded as a return to a form which they’d never really lost (unless you count 1992’s slightly below par “March Or Die”), “We Are Motorhead” is, in the opinion of this reviewer, one of Motorhead’s weaker albums. The two opening tracks, “See Me Burning” and “Slow Dance” are among the worst the lads have ever recorded, especially the latter. The lyrics to these tracks are truly awful by Lemmy’s standards. Things pick up after these tracks with great songs like “Stay Out of Jail”, “Stagefright/Crash and Burn” and the title track but there are still songs that don’t quite hit the mark. “Wake the Dead” and “(Wearing Your) Heart on Your Sleeve” are both decent tracks but they are missing that extra ingredient that would make them more enjoyable. The undoubted highlight of the album has to be the ballad “One More Fucking Time”, which is an all time great Motorhead song, but unfortunately there are just too many less impressive tracks on the album.
Not a bad album but not up to the usual standard.