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Motörhead > Inferno > Reviews
Motörhead - Inferno

Life is not a TV dinner - 80%

Felix 1666, December 28th, 2021
Written based on this version: 2004, CD, Steamhammer

Six years. Is it really true, already six years? Indeed, the man who seemed to be blessed with the power to live a rockstar life eternally, died exactly six years ago. But a lot of his songs have no expiration date. Fortunately, some of them can be found on “Inferno”.

Lemmy, Phil and Mikkey offered a few extremely catchy yet absolutely heavy tracks on their album from 2004. The first one I must mention is “In the Black”. It consists of an ingenious riff, uncouth yet smooth verses and a chorus that jumps into your brain like a parasite that will never leave you again. Lemmy sings like he has always sung and – only the best is good enough – he delivers the second voice as well. Needless to say that the number does not only provide solid heaviness, but also the casual touch that has given a lot of Motörhead’s tracks its special flavour. “In the Name of Tragedy” is a bit darker, but it also profits from a fantastic flow, a memorable chorus and its simple construction that invites you to bang your head. I know, it’s no new finding that Lemmy was always an expert in reducing music to its essentials and this song shows once again that conventional song patterns are no indication for a stale overall picture. This is all the more true as the production conveys determination, conviction and muscles. “Inferno” bursts out of the boxes with lots of self-confidence and so the right frame is set for the songs. Already the voluminous up-tempo opener “Terminal Show” leaves no doubt that the album gives no reason for concern in terms of the mix.

But Lemmy has more aces (of spades) up his sleeve. His lyrics have always reflected his special view on the world. He delivers his potpourri of angry, cynical, ironic and laconic (“Life is not a TV dinner”) poetry which makes the musically strong songs even more enjoyable. A few times he also reflects on his own past (“Our badge the ace of spades”, “Eat the rich, life’s a bitch”, “Stay clean, be true”). And so he and the other two ruffians create a cool album that avoids almost completely lukewarm stuff. This does not mean that each and every song provides an overdose of excitement. But I guess that no Motörhead tune ever did this after “Ace of Spades” – and this is no problem at all, because this band offered other values: permanent reliability, dirty humor, powerful chords. That’s what made them a constant, well-appreciated factor in the metal community.

With this said, the flawlessly produced “Inferno” is not as apocalyptic as its title indicates, but most of its songs have a nearly perfect flow, a great drive and a compact arrangement. Sometimes the band borders on speed metal (“Fight” is a distant relative of the rapid “Eat the Gun” from “Overnight Sensation”), but they also take a trip to bluesy territories (the closer). Of course, a blues song is neither great nor necessary, but if there is a band that has the right to perform such a number, than it’s Motörhead. Every now and then, a song walks the thin line between “okay” and “meaningless”, for example “In the Year of the Wolf”, but after all, there is no reason to skip a song. Even the somewhat lethargic “Keys to the Kingdom” spreads a certain charm, although its neighbor “Smiling Like a Killer” sounds much better: simple, direct, old school, simply Motörhead. Lemmy, we do not know exactly what you have done during the last six years, but we are happy that you and your comrades gave us such a rich legacy.

Pity You Still Think Like A Monkey - 95%

Twisted_Psychology, December 29th, 2015
Written based on this version: 2004, CD, Steamhammer

Contrary to popular belief, Motorhead didn’t always release the same album every time they recorded something. While they didn’t stray too far from the template that was laid down by Lemmy’s bass distortion and gargled wheeze, their sound did evolve over time as they discovered variations to their tried and true formula. 2004’s Inferno is one of the finest examples of this phenomenon, giving the band a major burst of energy as they were reaching the latter days of their career.

Overkill and Ace of Spades are more influential and were ungodly vicious for their time, but Inferno just might be the heaviest album Motorhead ever put out. Phil Campbell’s guitar tone is at its most dominant thanks to the bright production job though the rhythm section still holds its own throughout. The songs themselves also seem to be more up tempo than usual as the pummeling “Terminal Show” and “Fight!” pack in several thrash riffs while others such as “Life’s A Bitch” and “Smiling Like A Killer” thrive on a punk oriented delivery.

Of course, the sing-along hooks still offer plenty of melody and there are some slower moments that keep things interesting. “Suicide” may be the most accessible song on here thanks to its building guitar work and surprisingly catchy vocal layering and “Keys to the Kingdom” also stands out for its mid-tempo shuffle. One also can’t forget about the closing “Whorehouse Blues” as Mikkey Dee trades his drums in for another guitar and Lemmy breaks out the harmonica for a rousing acoustic jam that makes you wonder how many of these the band had left in them.

But when it comes down to it, Inferno stands out thanks to its more ambitious scope. You won’t find any fancy frills on here but moments like the building intro on “Killers” and the lyrical imagery on “In the Year of the Wolf” give things a more noticeable weight than usual. Albums like 1916 had attempted this sort of thing before but it’s never sounded as natural as it does here.

If Inferno isn’t the best album that Motorhead ever put out, then it’s a surprisingly powerful addition to their extensive discography at the very least. The songs may be not as iconic as their classic staples but they’re written with a great deal of care and the energy involved is well worth the price of admission. It’s a shame that the band never reached their level of intensity again but they never stopped finding ways to live up to their unshakeable reputation.

“Terminal Show”
“Smiling Like A Killer”
“Whorehouse Blues”

They Still Got It! - 100%

corviderrant, September 18th, 2004

Ohh, hell yes! Lemmy is older than my Dad and he is still the High Priest of the Church of Motorhead, Keeper of the Sacred Rickenbacker 4001 Bass of Destruction and the Sanctified Marshall Bass Stacks of DOOM!!! This CD shows proof positive that he is not growing mellow with age--in fact, he is still spitting venom with fire blazing in his eyes and beating holy hell out of his bass. Liberal injections of punk and speed metal-influenced riffing plus a staggering Steve Vai solo on the opening track ("The Terminal Show", and since when does Vai never play less than brilliantly?) insure that this album will crush your skull into pulp with every listen and you will come back for more every time.

"Fight", "The Terminal Show", "Killers" and "In The Name Of Tragedy" are especially ass-whomping tracks on a seriously murderous album. The production is perfect, also, not as cloudy as it was on "Hammered" ( a great album regardless of popular opinion); the crunching guitar is perfectly balanced against the bass, which sounds like an amped-up Harley motorcycle as always, and Mikkey Dee's drums boom and crack with thunderous power under it all. And I love the ending track, an acoustic country blues tune with witty and droll lyrics as only Lemmy can write. He's been around long enough that he can do whatever he wants, right? Right, and it still works and has integrity because of its rootsy feel and downhome sensibility--this is no cheesey acoustic ballad. This is a Motorhead album, you do not buy it for clean and clear cookie cutter shite; you get it for ultra-scuzzy bluesy boogie on speed, which is the majority of this album anyway other than the aforementioned speed metal & punk influences (and Motorhead are acknowledged universally as the spiritual fathers of speed metal and a major influence on second wave UK punk anyway, so why not include the styles that they pioneered and add their own little twist to it!)

These guys are tight, they're veterans, and if you don't know what to expect by now, what kind of metalhead are you? Get this and learn that growing old does not mean losing your edge!

Awesome - 91%

MorbidPickle, September 17th, 2004

It's a typical Motorhead album. The sound is a little more polished, but other than that it sounds very similar to every other Motorhead album out there. Which is okay, they're one of the few bands that can actually get away with releasing the same album over and over again and yet still have something new to offer with each album. The first song to play on the album, "Terminal Show" is quite possibly my new favourite Motorhead track. The jaw-dropping solo during this song is performed by none other than guitar legend Steve Vai. Apparently Lemmy had run into him at a bar, and Vai decided to play on a couple songs. If you listen closely, you can notice Lemmy drop references to other classic Motorhead tracks, including "Stay Clean", "Eat the Rich" and the immortal "Ace of Spades", and the acoustic "Whorehouse Blues" at the end is very reminiscent of the track "1916". If you're a Motorhead fan, you should definitely check this out. In my opinion it's their best album yet.

a Motorhead album for the new millennium - 81%

UltraBoris, September 17th, 2004

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.

So good... - 75%

electric27, July 22nd, 2004

... just listening to it will drive you to a life of alcoholism! Another heapin' helping of Motörhead's brand of thick, meaty metal. This puppy begs to be cranked as you speed down the highway in a nice '82 Trans Am.

So let's get right down to the bad part before I launch into what makes this album kick ass. The first four songs made me cream my pants in a metalgasm of unheard of proportions. But after that the album lost me. The songs all have awesome titles like "Life's a Bitch" and "Whorehouse Blues". But both these songs are pretty average, along with a lot of the other ones.

Okay, now why I like this beast. First of all, LEMMY! Duh. I love his voice, I can't get enough of it, all gravely and such. The vocals are well done, and there's plenty of subtle harmony to thicken the vocals and bring them out without making them too loud. Oh yeah, speaking of loudness, I'd just like to comment on the production real quick. I really like it. Not too overproduced. Lemmy's bass sounds a little cleaner that usual. The drum tone is "big" without drowning everything the fuck out. The guitar tone is sludgy and tasty. All the levels are perfect.

Lemmys bass work is pretty standard "play along with the guitar" stuff, which is for the best since Motörhead plays as a three piece. The bass just needs to "fill things out". Speaking of fills, Lemmy throws some nice little bass fills in, especially in "Killers". Good touch.

Guitar riffs are at best catchy as hell and at worst slightly annoying. None of the solos are anything to write home about but they're generally short and don't really get in the way.

The drumming is solid. Nothing you wouldn't expect on a Motörhead album. There's really not much else to say.

Overall, this album would be purely average were it not for "Terminal Show", "Killers", "In the Name of Tragedy" and "Suicide", which are not only heavy and blisteringly fast, but catchy and well-written. Oh yeah, but the lyrics for "In the Name of Tragedy" are a little dumb (but hearing Lemmy rhyme "funky" and "monkey" is kind of funny). These aforementioned songs bring this album up from average to solid. So it gets a solid 75.

Lemmy is God (clichéd but true) - 85%

SatanLaughs, June 23rd, 2004

Well, Lemmy and crew have released their most recent effort, Inferno. And despite what some naysayer may claim this album is just as good, if not better, than their so called classics. Motorhead, like many other bands that have lasted as long, are often accused of becoming stale or washed up. And while this is often true of lesser bands, Motorhead have proven again and again why they deserve to be among the ranks of the metal gods.
The CD is far from experimental or original but is a typical dose of Kilmister glory. The songs hit you hard and fast and keep up the catchy hooks and riffs through their entirety. The blues influence does show through a bit more than on past releases but that actually adds to the album, giving it more depth than would possibly be expected on a Motorhead release. Songs like “Keys to the Kingdom” emphasize this strengthening of the blues influence more than any others (except for track 12, more on that later). While Keys isn’t as fast a song as the typical Motorhead tune it is catchy and well crafted. You cant help but start bobbing your head in approval. The rest of the album truly moves at breakneck speeds and overshadows many of Motorheads past accomplishments. “Terminal Show” ( with accompanying guitars by Steve Vai) and “In the Name of Tragedy” could easily have become the songs most associated with this band if they were on earlier albums instead of “Ace of Spades”. In my opinion they are easily that songs’ equal. The CD follows the standard Motorhead format by adding a few songs here and there that slow the tempo and break the atmosphere created by the constant wailing guitar and raspy vocals but not to the point that the mood of the album departs from riotous and raucous, but just enough to give the listener a pause and anticipate the next full on audio assault.. This is truly a marvelous album and should be put on the “must buy” list of any Motorhead fan.
Now on to the rumored “blues” song that was supposedly on Inferno. Well, it was more than a rumor. The album ends with “Whorehouse Blues”, a touching song about life and sex that would sound more fitting on a Johnny Cash CD. Despite this radical departure of style the song fits in strangely well. It keeps a fast pace (for blues inspired country) and light attitude and has an unmistakably Motorhead feel to the lyrics with a chorus that proudly declares that “You know we aint too good looking/But We are satisfied/No we aint never been good looking/But we are satisfied/We shoulda opened a little whorehouse honey/get a little booty on the side”.