Words By: Gerrod Harris
Release Date: August 28th, 2015 via UDR GmbH
It is no secret that the titan has manifested as the mantra, sex, drugs, and rock n’roll, but even as he approaches his 70’s, along with a string of health issues, Lemmy Kilmister cannot be stopped. Motörhead have spent the last few years touring off of 2013’s highly acclaimed Aftershock record and now they are back with Bad Magic, a record as powerful and energetic as their classic records of the likes of Bastards and Ace Of Spades.
From front to back, Bad Magic simply rocks. This is a very heavy record, but by now, we should expect nothing less from Motörhead. Right from the get go, when Lemmy’s crisp and haunting voice belts out “Victory Or Death”, the listener is catapulted forward into the middle of a hard rock barrage on the ears. The first single, “Thunder And Lightning”, is a distorted, fast paced, blues based banger. In this track, Motörhead demonstrate just how tight of a unit they are as they are held firmly by drummer Micky Dee larger than life beats, and Lemmy’s powerful bass. The album continues to drive forward like a bat out of hell with a number of songs (with the exception of two slower tunes), all featuring heavy riffs, rich distorted guitar tones, and blues inspired thrash. In short, Motörhead continues to be a sound best embodied by a raised middle finger. “Shoot Out Your Lights” strongly stands out among the heavier songs, offering a simple chorus that is hard to resist singing along to while head banging, and a killer riff played throughout the verse. Long-time guitarist, Phil Campbell shines throughout the whole album, showcasing heavy riffs, as mentioned above, as well as a number of face melting solos.
Perhaps I am most impressed by Motörhead’s work on their slower songs. Not to take away from their heavier work which they are known for, as Bad Magic is full of their thrash roots performed excellently, but their ability to transform what would normally be a slower song into their own semi ballad, semi rocker is unexpected. Lemmy drops his normal growl of a voice for a raw, and a very real croon on “Till The End”, a song which features less power chords, and slightly less distortion, in favour for more space, and layered guitars, ranging from acoustic to an edgy lead part soloing underneath everything, a third siting somewhere in the middle, and an intense guitar solo towards the songs end. The verses take the form of a ballad but shift into a slow and heavy anthem of a chorus, making for a very cool transition in styles. A similar contrast between soft and heavier textures can be heard on their cover of The Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy For The Devil”. I love The Stones, and I often dislike covers of their material. Most times they fail to capture the chemistry which makes their material so charming, but Motörhead’s rendition of this classic simply rocks. Played at about half the speed as the original, the song takes on the form of sorrowful, but unapologetic war chant, as Lemmy, softly but without sacrificing vocal power, sings the famous lyrics over distorted chords, dissonant guitar swells, and tribal drums which explodes intensely over the two guitar solos. Motörhead have twisted and adapted the song in such a way that it not only does justice by the original, but it is also a rendition nearly on par with the original, and that says a lot coming from me.
This is a record made to be listened to loud. It is hard to find new, exciting, blues based hard rock these days. Often many think that metal and the blues are as different as night and day, but originally rock n’roll came out of the blues, and the two go together hand and hand quite well. Bad Magic is a modern reminder that even the heavier end of the rock spectrum would benefit from dabbling in the blues. At the very least, that influence often leads to some solid riffs, as heard in “Fire Storm Hotel”, “Electricity”, and “Shoot Out Your Lights”. In their forty years as a band, Motörhead have shown little evolution in their sound; however, they seem to always find a way to deliver a fresh take on the thrash genre which they once pioneered. No one sings like Lemmy, with such a soulful rasp, and very few play with such power, conviction, and attitude as Motörhead do. Should Bad Magic be their final album, then Motörhead has certainly gone out with a bigger bang than most would. Its sheer raw power and primal energy can be accredited to the sense of youthfulness surrounding the band, which juxtaposes nicely with Lemmy’s aged, rough, and gravelly voice. From the mid-tempo ballads (“Til The End” and “Sympathy For The Devil”), to the unrelenting rockers (“The Devil”, “Tell Me Who To Kill”, and “Chocking On Your Screams”), Bad Magic is a highly entertaining record, ultimately proving that Motörhead cannot, and will not, be held back.
1: Victory Or Die
2: Thunder & Lightning
3: Fire Storm Hotel
4: Shoot Out All Your Lights
5: The Devil
7: Evil Eye
8: Teach Them How To Bleed
9: Till The End
10: Tell Me Who To Kill
11: Chocking On Your Screams
12: When The Sky Comes Looking For You
13: Sympathy For The Devil