Motorhead_Bad MagicLike death and taxes, Mötörhead is an institution that can easily be taken for granted. For the past 40 years, it’s been an article of faith that A) frontman Lemmy Kilmister is a god in human form, and B) his band will release an album of consistent (if predictable) amphetamine-fueled rock ‘n roll every two years or so. Sadly, recent events have revealed Lemmy to be a mere mortal, and a somewhat fragile one at that. The band pushes onward as usual, and while no one will say it, there’s the lingering possibility that the their new album, Bad Magic, could possibly be their last.

Mötörhead is as self-referencing as ever on Bad Magic. “Thunder & Lightning” is this album’s obligatory “Ace of Spades”/”Iron Fist” rewrite. Mikkey Dee’s fancy drum work on “Shoot Out All Of Your Lights” is a clear callback to 1995’s “Sacrifice,” and first single “Electricity” shares its main riff with 2004’s “Smiling Like A Killer.” In several instances, lyrics seem to be assembled out of older Mötörhead song titles, which is actually a pretty cool trick. Regardless, the old line about how these guys keep writing the same album appears to be somewhat true in this case.

While nothing here is exactly greatest-hits-worthy, there’s certainly some winners. “Fire Storm Hotel” sports a greasy riff that recalls the 1916/Bastards era, as well as some fairly poetic lyrics. “Evil Eye” features some rattling and shaking percussion as counterpoint to Lemmy’s subterranean growl. There’s also the bluesy and surprisingly upbeat “When the Sky Comes Looking for You,” as well as the cro-magnon heaviness of the awesomely-titled “Tell Me Who To Kill” (I’ll send you a list, Lemmy).

Motorhead_2015

Contrary to popular belief, Mötörhead is capable of the occasional surprise, but this album contains few of them. You can find Queen guitarist Brian May slumming it on “The Devil,” for instance. “Till The End” is a gritty acoustic ballad, and one of the few tracks where Lemmy’s newfound mortality seems to have influenced the lyrical content. Why this song isn’t the closing track is beyond me, but that honor went to an unremarkable cover of the Rolling Stones‘ “Sympathy For The Devil.” On the off chance that this becomes the final track of Mötörhead‘s recorded output, I imagine I’d be among many fans that would be extremely disappointed.

Bad Magic continues the subtle shift in the Mötörhead‘s character over the last 10-15 years. Guitarist Phil Campbell has become something of an off-brand Zakk Wylde, relying heavily on a standard-issue “heavy metal” tone in the absence of fresh riffs and ideas. Meanwhile, Mr. Kilmister’s lyrics have become almost nonsensical, yet they convey enormous amounts of nihilism and dread, as though he’s witnessed so much misfortune that he can’t even explain it properly. In other words, these guys are not exactly playing rock ‘n roll anymore. This is a change that many listeners won’t notice, and some may even prefer it, but it’s something that’s always struck me as “off” about the band’s recent output.

Mötörhead have made a lot of albums (22, to be exact), and Bad Magic is, for better or worse, just one more of them. It’s not a carefully prepared gourmet meal; it’s a fucking can of military rations. The prevailing opinion amongst the diehards is that the band has been on autopilot since 2004’s Inferno, and this record will not change anybody’s mind about that. There’s nothing on Bad Magic that straight-up sucks, but nothing is mind-blowingly great either. Its redeeming quality is that it sounds like Mötörhead, which is all you could reasonably expect at this point. Now get off the internet and go see these guys on tour while you still can.


Rating: 2.5/5.0
Label: UDR Music
Websites: www.imotorhead.com | facebook.com/officialMotorhead
Releases Worldwide: August 28th, 2015

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  • groverXIII

    I personally really loved Aftershock and thought it was their best material in twenty years, but this isn’t quite up to that standard. Still, it’s Motörhead, and that means it’s still pretty good.

    • CarvedInStone

      Agreed. They’re really on a roll. And if this really turns out to be Motörhead’s last album (which I hope it won’t) it’s a worthy coda for the band.

    • [not a Dr] Gonzalo Salazar

      Motörhead is like pizza or like sex:
      When it’s good, it’s freaking awesome.
      When it’s bad, it’s still pretty good.

      • Leebo

        And all 3 can have different levels of cheese…..

        ;)

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        When it´s bad, it´s still better than not getting any.

  • Mötörhead, löl.

  • DIMENSIONAL BLEEDTHROUGH

    It’s crazy that Lemmy’s 70 and just now debating giving up drugs and switching from Jack and Coke to vodka. I’m gonna be pissed if Ozzy outlives him.

    I guess I should listen to this album at some point.

    • DIMENSIONAL BLEEDTHROUGH

      Where’s that article about how stupid lyric videos are by the way? This one’s at least a little creative. Cool song though.

      • Carlos Marrickvillian

        Yes!!!
        Usually I find myself shaking my fist at the screen yelling “Why are you showing me how bad your lyrics are!!!”
        I possibly wouldn’t have noticed with out this promo clip.

    • Oscar Albretsen

      In Las Vegas, they’re taking bets as to whether Lemmy, Ozzy, or Keith Richards will live longest. Ozzy’s currently the favorite.

      • JMoherPerc

        My money’s also on Ozzy. Wasn’t he being studied by actual scientists a while back so they could “unlock the secrets to not dying when you’re supposed to” or something like that?

        • Yes, I recall some study that they actually found something in his DNA that resists the damages typically seen in people who have addication to drugs and alcohol. In theory, if we ever lived in a “Gattaca-esque” future of genetically engineered humans, we could all have Ozzy DNA in our offspring! :)

          • Leebo

            It’s the bats blood that did it. Ozzy is a vampire.

        • Innit Bartender

          Similarly, Lemmy can’t donate blood because it’s toxic to any other human being. My money’s on him.
          Ozzy is kept alive by his wife, probably has him sleeping in a high-pressure coffin or something.

    • Zadion

      It’s crazy that Lemmy’s 70 and still making metal.

      • Leebo

        I wouldn’t be too surprised to actually read “it’s crazy that Lemmy’s 80 and still making metal” to be honest, yeah he’s having a few health problems, and has realised that he has to take it a little easier, so taken the important step of getting healthy by just drinking vodka.

        • Dr. Scorpion

          Just Vodka.I hear Putin seething.

          • basenjibrian

            Maybe Lemy needs to ride a horse (or a unicorn) bare chested!

          • Dr. Scorpion

            Unicron. Always unicorn.

  • Doomdeathrosh

    Motorhead is probably as old as the Easter Island statues…..and still they be rockin and rollin!

  • While I have a certain amount of respect for bands like this sticking to their roots and continuing to forge new music way…WAY past their prime, its albums like Black Sabbath’s 13 that prove that old doesn’t have to mean bad. It is possible for old dogs to make some good new stuff, and its a shame this wasn’t better. Still, I give Lemmy & Co. props for giving it a go one more time! :)

    • Carlos Marrickvillian

      I think it’s a life for him. He’s cut from a rare cloth and I doubt he looked at this album any differently to the others. Get in, with the band, times short, turn it up bang out the tune and have another drink, now we can tour…

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    Good review … I’ll still get this because, Motorhead …
    I will say that I thought Aftershock was pretty good. I agree with your comment re the stones cover. It seems an odd choice to me as well I would’ve thought Tumbling Dice or maybe Beast of Burden would’ve been better…

  • Solid review as always, Doc! They are sounding a little tired these days but I still love this band. If you’re not familiar, Motorizer and World is Yours are two GREAT late era Motörhead records. Motorizer may be my all time favorite album of theirs.

    • Carlos Marrickvillian

      Where you been Al? Missing your reviews!
      I agree, his voice definitely sounds tired in the verses of the stones cover, also yeah Motorizer is great I love English Rose classic dirty rock n’ roll!

      • I appreciate that Carlos! My band is very busy over the summer. We play 5-6 shows a week so the little free time I have is reserved for my family. I just got the promo for an album I will be reviewing in the next few weeks though so await my underwhelming return!

    • Dr_Fisting

      Much appreciated, Al! I thought those two albums had their moments, and Bad Magic does too. The last one I truly loved was “Overnight Sensation” though.

  • dblbass23

    Most of the reviews that I’ve been reading for the past month have been praising this as an excellent Motorhead album……not the 2.5 rating that it’s given here. I haven’t given it a thorough listen yet…but what I’ve heard is better than 2.5. Guess that does prove “to each his own”.

    • Dr_Fisting

      In AMG world, 2.5 equals “nothing special.” Considering Motorhead has 4-5 other albums that sound remarkably like Bad Magic, and at least 7-8 that are better, I’d say the glove fits.

      • dblbass23

        …..and like I said…..to each his own.

  • Shane R

    In that press photo, Lemmy looks like he has AIDS.

    Looks aside, Motorhead has been mailing it in for ages.

    • Shane R

      Motorhead mailing it in is still better than Breaking Benjamin’s, Disturbed, or a host of other shit to hit the market in the past decade.