Released: 2008, SPV/Steamhammer
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
Call it blasphemy but as Motörhead frontman Lemmy Kilmister approaches AARP status, he just might be slowing down a little. In fairness, Motörhead has always played no-frills hard rock at its core but the last two albums—INFERNO and KISS OF DEATH—almost seemed like Motörhead was beginning to fall into a bit of a rut. They weren’t bad albums by any stretch but even the ever-charismatic Kilmister sounded like he was going through the motions. Many metal fans will surely disagree but the last truly great Motörhead album was 1991’s 1916 and in the seventeen years since then, we’ve had to suffer through the mediocre OVERNIGHT SENSATION, SNAKE BITE LOVE and HAMMERED. Sure, there have been bright spots here and there (“We Are Motörhead” is an amazing live opener and the band has never been faster and heavier than on “Burner” and “Sacrifice”) but there has been nothing to get overly excited about or make people forget about ORGASMATRON, OVERKILL or BOMBER.
So what exactly happened in the two years since KISS OF DEATH hit shelves? Who knows, but Motörhead’s latest slab of punk-infused metal, MOTÖRIZER, finds the band finally getting back to basics and delivering a fully satisfying (well, almost) album that, frankly, is long overdue. Guitarist Phil Campbell rattles off hook-y leads and riffs and the lockstep rhythm section of Kilmister and drummer Mikkey Dee synchronize into a well-oiled machine honed at Dave Grohl’s 606 Studios.
Make no mistake, MOTÖRIZER, is exactly what fans have come to expect from the tireless band but over the course of the past three albums, the Brit trio’s blistering speed has taken a backseat to groovier, blues-based songs. The band has certainly dabbled in this before (“Going To Brazil,” “You Better Run” and “Whorehouse Blues” to name three) but beginning with 2004’s INFERNO, there began a noticeable shift away from the full-throttle stompers that made Motörhead one of the best-known metal bands of all time. On MOTÖRIZER, songs like “Back On The Chain” with its bouncy groove, the swinging “Teach You How To Sing The Blues” and the slow burning “One Short Life” continue on with this tradition. Of course, Motörhead can still unleash a speed metal fury with conviction as evidenced on “Buried Alive” and “Runaround Man” (which sounds similar to “Going To Brazil” and even quotes the title at one point) is pure rock and roll but with the amps turned to eleven. “Rock Out” is a bit silly lyric-wise but, man, will this song kick ass when performed live and is certain to become a staple of the band’s set. A few underdogs to watch for are “When The Eagle Screams,” which features a great solo from Campbell and the infectious “English Rose,” which like “Christine” from KISS OF DEATH, boasts a catchy, old-time rock ‘n roll chorus. Thankfully, the only dogs on MOTÖRIZER are spared for the end of the album and can be easily skipped (“Heroes” is especially forgettable) but it is refreshing to hear an energized Motörhead get back in the saddle once again.
After thirty years, Motörhead has earned the elder statesmen status afforded to certain acts whose less-than-stellar recent output still draws the faithful masses based on name only (I’m looking at you Ozzy, Dio and Iron Maiden). Personally, I stayed interested in Motörhead over the last few albums merely because they are who they are but it is nice to hear the band stepping up and really giving its fans something to get excited about again. MOTÖRIZER certainly won’t dethrone the aforementioned ORGASMATRON, OVERKILL or BOMBER—the band’s three masterpieces, in my opinion—but this is a rock-solid album that is deserving of the Motörhead name.
KILLER KUTS: “Runaround Man,” “Teach You How To Sing The Blues,” “When The Eagle Screams,” “Rock Out,” “Buried Alive,” “The Thousand Names of God”