September 14, 2015 Motorhead – Bad Magic (Album Review)
Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister’s raspy voice has been synonymous with the sound of English Rock band Motörhead for the last forty years. Taking fans back to the beginning, Motörhead rose out of the ashes after Lemmy was caught on the wrong side of the law and without a band in 1975. Looking for a stripped down sound that was fast, loud, and vicious, Motörhead was off and running signing with United Artists, but it was not until Chiswick Records picked them up in 1977 that the band was able to release their debut album, Motörhead, in late Summer. The album spent a week at 43 on the UK Albums Chart, and in a twist of fate, Motörhead went on tour with Lemmy’s former band, Hawkwind. Summer of 1978, saw Motörhead jump to Bronze Records, and the success of the single, “Louie, Louie” and a recorded session on BBC Radio 1’s John Peel in Session prompted Chiswick to reissue Motorhead’s debut album via EMI Records, which led to a contract extension.
Moving right along, the band released Overkill, their follow-up album, the first part of 1979. That album broke 24 in the UK Albums Chart, and 39 for the single. The Overkill Tour followed, and throughout the next year, Motörhead worked on their next album, Bomber, which dropped Fall of 1979 which topped 12 on the UK Album Charts. With that success, United Artists chanced releasing the 1975-76 Rockfield Studios sessions that made up the album On Parole that December. Furthering their success, Bronze released the live EP, The Golden Years, while Motörhead was on tour. It sold better than anything previously released. Finally, in what is arguably Motörhead’s most well-known album, the gold Ace of Spades, was released Winter 1980, which broke 4 on the UK Album Charts, and as they say, the rest is Rock-n-Roll history.
Thirty-five years later, Motörhead are still going strong with Lemmy on lead vocals and bass guitar, Phil “Wizzö” Campbell on guitar and backing vocals, and Mikkey Dee on drums, as they stand darlings of Rock, appealing to all age groups as well as all genres ranging from Punk Rockers to Metalheads, and everyone in between. Two years after the release of Aftershock, the band returns with their shredding 22nd studio album, Bad Magic, released August 28th.
Bad Magic is a 13-track commentary on how cruel the world is if one lets it. “Victory or Die” gets the album started in true Motörhead fashion with killer drums and hyper guitars burning under sticks and fingers as Lemmy rasps about really understanding what you are fighting for in life, otherwise, others will dictate it for you; “Look around and see the soldiers, see them marching off to war/Take a careful look as they swing by/They’re all heroes but they don’t know what they’re fighting for/That’s the spirit victory or die.” Speeding onto “Thunder & Lightning,” the hyper guitars and drums keep burning in this tune of life being a double-edged sword. The next track, “Fire Storm Hotel,” is a traditional Metal tune, no less hard with a nice swing vibe as the guys sing about us as a society needing to learn from our mistakes, or be doomed to repeat them; “So wait and I will tell you what happened here/The hotel burned, no lessons learned, only ghosts got clear…”
A drum solo brings in “Shoot Out All of Your Lights,” followed by the speed Funk-vibe guitars in this tune of people’s ulterior motives to sway others’ lives; “We are the ones to kiss you good night/Die, die, time goes by/We will shoot out all of your lights.” Like a track playing backward, “The Devil,” begins before settling in to the rhythm head on. This tune talks about inner demons. Moving on to “Electricity,” this anthemic track speaks of Motorhead’s core with its message of not giving up who you are; “Freedom to believe/Don’t have a price/Innocence never gets too old/You need a bolt of rock/Sever toxic shock/Electricity deep in your soul.” The slam dance piece, “Evil Eye,” follows featuring a catchy hook as the song warns against those conspiring to bring one down. The guitar riff-driven “Teach Them How to Bleed” is another life warning of not being afraid to fall on your butt in life, to pick yourself up, and go on.
A Motorhead power ballad comes next with “Till the End.” This truly confessional tune shows the depth of the band’s musical and vocal repertoire as they sing of trusting the self and living life to the fullest; “All I know is who I am/I’ll never let you down/The rest will give you trust until the end.” Returning to the no-holds-bar Rock is “Tell Me Who to Kill.” With a repetitive hook, this track seems to talk about the powers that be sending troops into war, yet not knowing who the enemy truly is; they talk in circles. One the darkest themed tracks of Bad Magic is “Choking on Your Screams.” This song deals with the actual terrorists that are really under our noses; “You will not see us, but we are here…” The swing Rock, “When the Sky Comes Looking for You,” deals with the end times. How will the powers that be answer to their deeds when the judgement comes; “Who would you blame, who could you sue/If the sky came looking for you…” Closing out Bad Magic is Motörhead’s cover of The Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil.” This is a fitting finale, and arguably exceeds the original.
Motörhead has proven they are as fresh now as they were when they started forty years ago with the balls-to-the-wall Bad Magic. The songwriting, edge, and passion are all still there for fans to turn up the volume and indulge in some dirty, loud Rock-n-Roll. CrypticRock gives Bad Magic 5 out of 5 stars.