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Motörhead – Bad Magic (A Music Review)

Updated: Apr 5, 2020

Motörhead - Bad Magic

Motörhead – Bad Magic

Motörhead – Bad Magic (UDR)

You’ve got to love Lemmy Kilmister.  At 69 years old, Lemmy still rocks like a hellhound is on his trail.  He’s partied harder than most everyone this side of Keith Richards and he’s survived.  He’s one of the rare rock singers who can still pull off mutton chops.  He’s not a complete dick like so many of his speed metal counterparts – for example, James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich of Metallica or Dave Mustaine of Megadeth.  In fact, every time Lemmy opens his mouth to say something in an interview, he sounds like the kind of guy you’d want to party with.

Even though his band is currently celebrating their 40th anniversary, they still sound skin tight.  More importantly, they still sound completely relevant.  Motörhead may still be old school enough to have an umlaut in their name, but Lemmy’s band can still kick the asses of bands young enough to be his grandchildren.  Grace Slick once famously said that there is nothing in the world sadder than an old woman trying to sing rock and roll music.  Lemmy is solid proof that statement does not stretch out to men.

Bad Magic is not reinventing the wheel for Motörhead, and thank goodness for that.  Bad Magic would fit in snugly anywhere in the band’s catalogue, a timeless slab of molten rock that could have been done in the 70s, 80s, 90s or beyond.  It’s a pretty set template by now, thundering guitars, smashing drums, overdrive tempos and Lemmy’s vaguely British-accented caterwauling.  And no fucking ballads, dammit!

In fact, “Til the End” is as close as they get to a slow song, a somewhat more mellow (well, mellow counted on a Motörhead curve) and surprisingly effective arena rock-vibed jam.  This is the sound that Guns ‘N’ Roses were trying, unsuccessfully, to capture in Use Your Illusion I & II.

However, most of the songs here are more along the lines of the opener “Victory or Die,” a stomping one-chord-wonder that sprints so quickly and slams so hard that it would have worn out the Ramones in their prime.  Quick and dirty songs like “Fire Storm Hotel” live up to their aggressive titles, and yet beyond the instrumental assault there are some truly catchy tunes which will bring you back.

They understand the importance of a melody to make something like “Choking on Your Screams” and “Electricity” stand out in the hardcore metal scene.  Motörhead takes their rocking seriously, but still, Lemmy has the sense of humor to close out “Teach Them How To Bleed” with a dramatic outro that I’m almost positive is borrowed from Spinal Tap.

The album closes out with a stomping cover of the Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil,” a song that fits the band so perfectly that it is rather shocking they had never covered it on disk before.

40 years and 21 albums into their career, Motörhead is still effortlessly cool.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2015 All rights reserved. Posted: August 28, 2015.

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