Metal Maniacs. Now, that’s something you don’t hear much these days. If you know what I’m talking about, you are one of the trvest metalheads out there. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I hear Hot Topic is a cool place to hang out. What drew me to AMG back in 2010 are the same things that I loved about the articles, reviews, attitude, and passion that filled the pages of the untouchable MM. The kind of passion and attitude that resisted the urge to suck a label’s cock or kiss a band’s ass to get the chance to review them. The reviews were sleek and straightforward and the writers were people you wish you knew. You followed your favorites and you took advice from those you trusted. And, inside those glossy (or not so glossy) black and white pages, lay the words of some of my favorite metal writers. For instance, the great Professor Black.1 If you know Professor Black,2 you know he is the ultimate Motörhead fan. And I Am the Rock is his (and the world’s) ultimate study/tribute to one of the greatest bands ever.
Since first coming to AMG four years ago, I’ve probably referenced Motörhead more than any other band.3 Some of this has to do with the kinds of albums I review, but also it’s due to the insane impact Lemmy & co. had on metal. Some only dabble with the style (every black/thrash outfit on the planet), while others take it one step farther (Bathory‘s self-titled release and I‘s Between Two Worlds). Oddly enough, lots of the groups that embrace The Lemmy are black metal ones. And, even more interesting, is that many—like I—mix their Motörhead with Viking-ish Bathory. Even more interesting is that one of the other Professor Black records coming out today (Sunrise) sounds a lot like Bathory. Talk about your full circles. But, no one has had the balls to go all-out Motörhead. Until now.
And the key to a quality Motörheadache? A little Black-Sugar. The riffs, solos, bass work, vocal arrangements, verse and chorus designs—it’s all fucking here. And it hits hard in classic Lemmy fashion. “Get It On” is a no-nonsense opener with loads of distorted bass, a fly-paper chorus, and guitar solos that give the appearance of two dueling six-stringers. Throughout the album, the guitar work alternates between Mark Sugar’s (Trials, Black Sites) fretboard ascensions and pealing highs, playing off himself in order to maximize the Black-Sugar-Fast Eddie Clarke guitar real-estate of each song.
Other upbeat, grooving pieces that share a bar stool with “Get It On” are the back-to-back closing ditties, “I Am the Rock” and “Hard to Please.” The title track is as addictive as heroin and “Hard to Please” is the closing act to the album’s opening one. The latter complements the opener so well it wraps up this eleven-track, thirty-six-minute record like a Christmas package. Along with these sugary pieces, you’ll find pure guitar-lick and sticky-chorus bliss in “No Class” numbers like “Bad News” and “Shakedown.” Both have that feel-good aggression that only Overkill and Iron Fist could achieve, with the most-addictive choruses on the record. Not to mention, the solos and leads of these two tracks fit like tight, rubber gloves.
For “slower” pieces, with a touch of melody and sinisterness, “Hired Gun,” “Three Devils,” and “End of the Line” are your ticket. The wild-west imagery of the unforgettable Ace of Spades cover art comes to life in “Hired Gun,” as the bass guitar shoots you down in the street. The dissonant chords and sulfur-stained riffs of “Three Devils” play-out like a field trip to hell on the “Orgasmatron,” while “End of the Line” showcases some of the smoothest vocal lines on the album. Of the three, the latter two are the best—with the “Three Devils” serving as the beast to the “End of the Line” beauty.
For two weeks, I’ve been crashing and smashing my way through this record, as well as revisiting every song our beloved Lemmy left us. I’ve spun this record on repeat, I’ve drug it from my truck to my office, and I’ve shattered my eardrums on my back porch and in bed. And… it still doesn’t get old. I Am the Rock is the best Motörhead record in recent years and a perfect partner to Professor Black‘s You Bastards! EP. I know it’s because of my shameless love for Motörhead that I adore this album but I don’t fucking care. This is a perfect example of fandom—a meticulous creation by two diehard fans. A gorgeous tribute crafted down to the minute detail. Lemmy may be gone from this planet but, goddamn, he lives through Professor Black.
- For those who’ve been wondering for years about the Doc Grier moniker, the Professor inspired it. I chose to go with “Doctor” rather than “Professor” to show my respects without robbing him of his title. ↩
- Chris Black, of Dawnbringer and High Spirits fame. ↩
- Hell, the name popped up in the most-recent Bonehunter review. ↩