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The Black Album with balls - 87%

TrooperEd, December 18th, 2016

Heavy metal played in the rock & roll style. What more can you ask for? Lemmy and pals proceed to completely tear shit the fuck up out of just about everyone, everything, and every genre except death metal in 1991. What’s hilarious is that in 1991 everyone was slobbering how Metallica had “crossed over,” “become acceptable to critics,” “unleash their inner rock,” and all that other gay shit those stupid mainstream magazines were spouting, this album had already been sitting pretty for a good 7-8 months before hand. Even funnier is the fact that there are also ballads on this album. But unlike the Black Album, Love Me Forever and the title track have honesty, not to mention a singer with the ability to sing with emotion without sounding like a pussy, whereas Lars was trying to cautiously maneuver to cash in on the power ballad train. Despite the fact that the song 1916 is very much a black sheep of the Motorhead flock (featuring practically no rock ensemble whatsoever), it’s a very powerful and emotional song about war that is very moving, said to have made grandfathers who actually fought in World War 1 cry.

There are some reports that Phil Taylor's playing was substandard on this album (Lemmy in particular said he needed a click-track for certain songs). As a drummer, I disagree and believe that his intro to The One To Sing The Blues is just as memorable as anything else he came up with (not to mention was better than Mikkey Dee's retooling of the intro which just sounded like the Strutter intro with double bass). It is very bare-bones and less filly than usual, but I don't consider that to be a bad thing.

The tag-team of Phil and Wurzel are just as sterling as ever, especially with their soloing. Unfortunately, after doing some research there doesn't seem to be any seem to be any proper credits of who played what, and I was never quite sure who's style was whose. So I can't give individual proper credit. What I can say, is that the aforementioned Love Me Forever is one of the best guitar solos in all of metal, full stop. They take the darkness and heartache of the song and wrench every last ounce of it in those leads. It doesn't sound insanely technical, but its just killer emotional playing that suits the song perfectly. Other great lead moments include the final solo of The One To Sing The Blues, which practically threatens to bring the house down before the first track is even over; Going To Brazil, one of Motorhead's old-timey rock & roll tributes over the years, which sticks to that theme perfectly without getting too technical and shredding.

But the best tracks here are the ripping thrash ones. Namely, I'm So Bad Baby I Don't Care, No Voices In The Sky and the penultimate Shut You Down! What a reaper of an opening riff! Adding insult to injury is that not even the Black album's faster moments thrash as hard as this does. Some Motorhead fans might consider this filler, but fuck em because that riff is good enough to carry any old stock lyrics. Having Shut You Down the last proper heavy song on the album was a smart move, for nothing could have followed that. It takes all the last joyful metal energy out of you just in time to drag you down even further to the horrors of war with 1916. You have to be a special breed of drama to close a Motorhead album on a soft note and this does it perfectly!

For whatever reason, whenever I go to record stores this is one the few non-compilation Motorhead albums I see copies of along with, well, Ace of Spades. Don't be intimidated with the bargain bin price. If you see it, get it stat!

Recommended Songs:
Shut You Down
No Voices In The Sky
Love Me Forever