Release Date: Aug 28, 2015
Record label: UDR
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Heavy Metal
Easy as it is to smirk at Lemmy’s decision to swap bourbon for vodka (with extra ice) in response to his recent health woes, anything that keeps the old reprobate on the road and raging imperiously should be welcomed. His band’s 22nd studio album, Bad Magic, sustains and emboldens the run of tremendous form that began as far back as 2004’s Inferno. Sounding more like a turbocharged punk band than at any time since their early 80s heyday, Lemmy (who turns 70 on Christmas Eve) and his gnarly comrades tear into short, sharp bursts of incendiary rock’n’roll like Victory Or Die, Electricity and Tell Me Who to Kill with the venomous abandon of delinquent teenagers.
One of the most memorable lines from the ’90s classic The Sandlot came during an encouraging speech where Babe Ruth himself related to Benny that “Heroes get remembered, but legends never die.” Since then, the latter part of that phrase has popped up everywhere, from songs to fitness t-shirts. While we tattoo “Legends Never Die” upon ourselves to try and cope with our own mortality, there is a living and breathing embodiment of that very phrase still walking this Earth, and we often overlook his importance. Enter Motörhead frontman Lemmy Kilmister, who, despite being nearly 70, is still kicking ass.
A lot happened to Motörhead -- or more accurately to Motörhead's once and future leader, Lemmy Kilmister -- after the release of 2013's Aftershock, and most of it wasn't good. Lemmy, who along with Keith Richards seemed to be the rocker most likely to survive Armageddon (and why hasn't someone written a comedy where those two chat while foraging for liquor and cigarettes in the wake of World War III?), was abruptly revealed as all too mortal as he found himself struggling with heart trouble, diabetes, and other maladies, and more than a few fans blanched when they saw the widely circulated online video of a weakened Lemmy pacing off stage at the 2013 Wacken Open Air Festival, too frail to complete Motörhead's set. 2015's Bad Magic was the first Motörhead album after Lemmy cut back on liquor and tobacco (and had a defibrillator implanted), and returned to the road, and the truth is the mighty frontman sounds older and weaker for the ordeal.
It seems appropriate that Motörhead will soon be embarking on a fortieth anniversary tour with The Fall. Both are seemingly immortal British music institutions, who churn out decent quality albums regardless of what level of public acclaim they’re currently enjoying (Bad Magic is Motörhead’s 22nd studio album, The Fall have just hit 27) and both are, of course, led by great, charismatic frontmen. For all that, though, the two have taken rather different musical paths.
No change of pace for Lemmy and co. on studio album number 22. If brushes with mortality are meant to slow you down, it’s clear Lemmy, 70 next birthday, didn’t get the memo. An album of reflective piano ballads this is not..
“Who knows what the fuck it’s all about?” barks Motörhead singer Ian ‘Lemmy’ Kilmister, apparently jaded beyond all human tolerance by journalists asking impertinent questions, particularly about his current fragile state of health. That line comes from Victory Or Die, Motörhead’s most confrontational song in years, and the first song on their 22nd album, once again produced by Cameron Webb, a man who has coaxed Lemmy and band into fine form over the last decade or so. Meanwhile, Shoot Out All Of Your Lights is a greasy slab of 80s-style Sunset Strip rock (note the similarities to Guns N’Roses’ Nightrain in the solo section) and Teach Them How To Bleed is a sarcastic tirade like Lemmy used to write back in the 80s.
Time flies when you realize this is Motörhead ’s 22d studio album over a slam-bam, no-surrender 40 years. Stubborn frontman Lemmy Kilmister, now 69, has endured some serious health issues in recent years, including having a defibrillator put in his chest to combat an irregular heartbeat. But he gets the last laugh here: This is a supersonic blast-furnace set of metal-punk that not only will happily surprise Motörhead fans, but also serves notice to wannabes that Lemmy & Co.