(out of 5)
If you’ve “liked” the official Motorhead fan site on facebook, then you’re probably aware of the amount of fierceness with which the Motorhead p.r. team is pushing the group’s latest effort, Aftershock; everything from status updates asking about your favorite album tracks to adorable pictures of cats posing with a copy of the album. It’s been at least three years since the group’s last album, The World Is Yours and that is because Lemmy’s heavy drinking/poor diet lifestyle finally caught up with him and he was forced to take some time off in order to address his various health issues. In fact, according to Lemmy, even during the making of Aftershock, he wanted to get through sessions quickly to go home and rest.
But here we are with the new Motorhead album and best since, I dunno, Kiss of Death? If you think I’m being facetious, you’ve got another thing coming because I think later period Motorhead albums – Overnight Sensation, Snake Bite Love, We Are Motorhead, Hammered, Inferno and Kiss of Death – from the current and longest lasting lineup of Lemmy (bass, vocals), Phil Campbell (guitar) and Mickey Dee (drums) are just as strong as officially recognized classics like Overkill, Ace of Spades or Orgasmatron. However it was the group’s previous two albums, Motorizer and The World Is Yours that left me feeling a little cold. Maybe a few of the riffs were a little dull and trite? I can’t say for sure except that “Rock Out” is still a gnarly tune.
Anyway my point is that Aftershock, though not quite as strong as the best Motorhead have done, is still quite the wicked collection of raging rock tuneage. Plus there are 14 songs on it! That’s more than the group have ever put on an album (not counting bonus tracks which led a different blogger to erroneously claim that Ace of Spades has 15 songs on it when it actually only has 12)!
Well yeah, it sounds like a Motorhead album. You’re not going to hear anything you haven’t heard on previous Motorhead albums but you’re going to like what you hear. The group has put the effort into some really great, dirty, simple, heavy and effective rock ‘n’ roll to back up Lemmy’s patented hoarse shouting. Campbell really pulls out some neat riffs on Aftershock. In fact it’s pretty commendable that he manages to play such killer, original riffs while sticking to a few heavy, basic chords; I’m surprised Campbell isn’t recognized more as one of the most enduring guitarists in heavy rock. After all, he’s been in the band since 1983, second longest only to Lemmy!
Does the album have its clunkers? Sure. “Silence When You Speak to Me” sounds like “Man in the Box” and drags a bit and the mid-tempo, good-time, AC/DC-style rocker “Keep Your Powder Dry” isn’t the most inspiring song; although it has a strong bridge and guitar solo so it’s not a total loss. The other mid-tempo, good time rocker “Crying Shame” is a hoot though and sorta reminds me of “Love for Sale” from Snake Bite Love.
But one thing is for sure. There are more fast, “Overkill”/”Ace of Spades”/”Iron Fist”-style speed rockers than on either of the two previous records. “End of Time”, “Going to Mexico”, “Queen of the Damned” and “Paralyzed” all tear it up. Upper, mid-tempo, headbangers “Heartbreaker”, “Coup de Grace”, “Death Machine” and “Knife” are no slouches either. And there a couple of slow jams in the form of “Lost Woman Blues” and “Dust and Glass” to vary things up a bit as well.
So, what else is there to say about a Motorhead album? I could talk about the lyrics on a few songs here… lessee… “Coup de Grace” and “End of Time” both tell you how much the world around you sucks whether it be because of media lies, oppressive politics or religion. “Do You Believe” is an uplifting tune about the power of rock ‘n’ roll. And some others deal with women, death and violence. There are also a couple of F-bombs on the album because what good rock ‘n’ roll album is entirely profanity-free, huh? It’s great to have them back and to know Lemmy is doing well; though I hear he works out now.