Released: 2013, UDR Records
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
Age and eons of legendarily unrepentant bad habits finally caught up with venerable Motörhead mainman Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister this year, landing him in the hospital, prompting some show cancellations, a much-ballyhooed abbreviated set at Wacken last summer and now the postponement of a European tour. Still, Lemmy's lifestyle probably would have killed anyone else long ago, and despite these bumps in the road the soon-to-be 68 year old is back at it with Motörhead – at least in the studio - for the trio's 21st studio album.
Lemmy's gravelly voice doesn't quite have the rumble and force it had in years past, and on occasion even sounds a wee bit tentative here, but aside from that there's very little evidence he is still feeling any lingering ill effects. Motörhead jump right into your face on Aftershock with the rollicking “Heartbreaker” and “Coup de Grace” before settling into heavy blues mode with the fittingly titled “Lost Woman Blues” that starts slow and sad and ends with a propulsive chug and a furious solo from guitarist Phil Campbell.
The band pick the pace up considerably on “End of Time,” driven by Mikkey Dee's signature double-bass salvos and Campbell's gnashing riffs. If there's one song where Lemmy's feeling fatalistic, this is the one – though he's not speaking in personal terms here, this is grand, apocalyptic, "we're all fucked" sort of stuff.
“Do You Believe” and “Death Machine” deliver plenty of boogie swagger, riding Lemmy's locomotive bass, before giving way yet again to the somber blues of “Dust And Glass,” which has an almost loungey feel to it – and I'm not saying that derisively. “Sultry” is not a word anyone has probably ever used to describe Motörhead, but this is one song where that comes pretty darn close to fitting the bill.
The brisk rabble of “Going To Mexico” plays like a companion piece to “Going To Brazil,” from 1991's 1916 album, though with less of a punky vibe than before, while “Silence When You Speak To Me” is anything but, with its thunderous groove. “Queen of the Damned” delivers that three chords and a cloud of dust punkiness “Mexico” hints at in spades, and is one of Aftershock's catchiest, liveliest tracks. The band wrap things up here with the double-bass driven, nose-busting riffiness of “Paralyzed” that could very well have served as the album's opener. There is certainly energy to burn here.
Where Motörhead studio albums, really since the aforementioned 1916, have arguably been a pretty mixed bag where a few “A+” tunes are surrounded by a bunch of “Cs,” Aftershock is rock solid and satisfies throughout. It's well-balanced, bristling with fire and verve and there is nary a dud to be found in any of the album's 14 tracks. Well played, gentlemen.