Living it hard
Oct 31 2013
An inimitable proponent of the “live fast, die young” lifestyle, Lemmy probably didn’t expect to make it to 67, but age and hard living are finally catching up with him. In the shape of diabetes and a defibrillator implant, mortality is at last looming large over the larger-than-life rock legend.
But in spite of all his health issues one thing that has not changed is Lemmy’s indestructible dedication towards creating music. Last week, Motorhead released their 21st record — Aftershock, a clear signal that Lemmy and Motorhead are far from slowing down.
Along with other rock legends like The Ramones and AC/DC, Motorhead have essentially made the same album for the last thirty odd years, and yet continue to be far better than most new bands out there. Part of it is the iconic status they’ve achieved. Lemmy’s grizzled face, sneering up at the tilted down microphone, is forever etched into the annals of rock history. But the more important aspect is that the band is so good at what they do that they can drive most fans crazy without having to try anything new.
Aftershock is the band’s first album in years to display the ingenuity that the band possessed back in the 70s and 80s. Their last few albums seemed too content to coast on their reputation and fearsome live acts to get the job done. The riffs were there, the band has always sounded fired up, but somehow that drive never translated into truly memorable songs with any kind of consistency.
However, Aftershock is as ferocious as anything they’ve ever done — a venerable achievement considering this Motorhead lineup has been together for almost two decades. Most bands stop caring at this point, but not on Lemmy’s watch. He, guitarist Phil Campbell, and drummer Mikkey Dee share a kind of symbiotic relationship, in that they’re distanced from one another in their personal lives, which allows them to spend so much time together on the road without things falling apart.
Aftershock is filled with those gut-punch, high octane jams that make Motorhead who they are and yet the album sounds totally fresh, something Motorhead’s past few records had totally failed at doing.
Heartbreaker opens it all up with a pulse pounding, pissed off groove. Motorhead don’t ease into Aftershock, they kick down the door with it. Lemmy’s whiskey -drenched voice is as powerful as ever, backed by a band that has mastered a consistent high level of awesomeness. Coup De Grace follows the gut-check with a right cross to the jaw.
While rattle, crunch and rock are Motorhead’s bread and butter, they’ve always been good for some atypical slow jams. Lost Woman Blues is perhaps one the best slow pieces the band has ever written. On the 12-bar-blues based slow jam, Lemmy’s voice becomes less hot-gravel, and more like a weary traveler reminiscing over the ladies that have left.
End of time, going to mexico, Paralysed and Queen of the damned continue with body-flattening energy, while Death Machine, Keep Your Powder and Silence when you speak to me, reduce the speed, but raise the rock swagger up a few notches.
At this stage in their career, Motorhead couldn’t care less about innovation or ingenuity. At the end of the day, Aftermath isn’t all that different from the other albums they’ve released, it’s straightforward no-frills rock n roll, visceral and fun, as only Lemmy and Motorhead can play it: a testament to a band that never betrayed its own personality for money, fame, or legacy.