I have always thought that Motörhead should be their own sub-genre of rock music. A friend asked me recently, “How is the new album?” The only response I was able to give was, “It sounds like Motörhead”.
The bands unique sound that has been there since day one, is still there with album 22, ‘Black Magic’. People say that if you have heard one Motörhead album you’ve heard them all, but if something isn’t broken, why fix it?
‘Black Magic’ doesn’t waste any time in getting fast and heavy. For the album opener, a familiar voice grabs your attention by shouting ‘Victory or Die’ and we are on our way. It really sets the tone of the album with its ripping guitar riffs, pounding drums and Lemmy’s near perfect bass playing.
The two stand out songs come very early on – ‘Thunder and Lightning’ and ‘Firestorm Hotel’, while they don’t offer anything new, they are straight rock n roll songs with that metal grit that we have been so used to hearing for the past 40 years.
There have been few surprises in the bands back catalogue over the years, but with this outing they’ve pulled out their phonebook and recruited the services of Queen guitarist Brian May to help out on ‘The Devil’. It’s an interesting sounding song which lyrically seems to delve into coming to terms with morality.
The album does a great job of showing off the individual talents of each of the band members, songs like ‘Shoot Out All Of Your Lights’ and ‘Evil Eye’ show off Micky Dee (drums) skills on the skins very well. Motörhead have always been a band that are a very riff heavy band and this outing is no different. Phil Campbell showcases some of his best work on ‘Teach Them How to Bleed’ and ‘Electricity’.
Things get very personal in ‘Till The End’, where the guys have toned things right down and produced what can only be described as a metal ballad. The song is very reflective of Lemmy’s attitude toward his life and that he will continue to be the way he is till the day he dies. From the opening guitar solo to the simple yet effective drums, the overall production of this song is phenomenal. Fans that have followed the band for a long time on this journey may even shed a tear at this.
“Don’t tell me what to do my friend, you’ll break more hearts than you can mend” – Lyrics on ‘Till The End’
From this point the album seems to lose a bit of the juice that fuelled the first 35 minutes or so, ‘Choking On Your Screams’ just seems to plod on without much purpose. That is, till the very last song which is actually a cover of ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ by The Rolling Stones. This actually makes for a very interesting finale. The song shows off that the band can take on pretty much anything and, not only remain true to the original but, keep their own sound.
Sadly over he past few years (more so in the last year), Lemmy’s lifestyle has caught up with him and he is facing more time in hospitals with various heath conditions. Many critics and fans have wondered if he can continue. He has proven them wrong. The proof is ‘Black Magic’. Motörhead and Lemmy have never rocked harder.