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Posted on August 31st, 2015 (1:00 pm) by N. Neal Paradise

The cover of Motorhead’s 22nd album Bad Magic looks like a badge, or a biker tattoo. It’s simple and clean, telling you everything you need to know about the band before you listen to it. It also looks almost exactly like the cover of their 1st album (and their 10th, and their 11th, and also a little like their 9th, 16th, 18th, 19th and 20th). Nobody ever accused Motorhead of being innovative. In fact, that is precisely what has made them endure when other bands have faded – their dogged, stubborn and intractable dedication to rocking as hard, loud and rude as humanly possible. And they’ve been doing it 39 years.

It’s more than that, though. Motorhead doesn’t just have dead-on consistency in musical terms. They also represent a hard-living rock and roll ideal that, while it was still pretty common in the late ‘70s/early ‘80s, existed in a platonic form in Motorhead. Other metal bands thought they were pretty hardcore, partying and drinking and drugging and getting 5 hours of sleep a week ‘cause they were so metaaaaaal (you can’t see it, but I’m making the devil horns sign right now), but even the mighty Metallica bowed and worshipped at the altar of Motorhead. Now, it’s become nigh-unheard-of to be as decadent as they are, or at least were.

Bad Magic can’t be described as anything better than classic. It’s precisely what I was expecting from Motorhead, filling in all those Motorhead-shaped spaces. It opens with the bold sonic boom of metal power “Victory or Die,” cranking it to 11 from the very start. And that’s it, really… Motorhead have enough power, drive and forward motion to last the entire album that way, despite the fact that Lemmy is now pushing 70 and walks with a cane. Heather talked before about how Lemmy might be part cockroach, and he only proves on Bad Magic that he’s the booziest, curse-iest, most steel-in-his-heart 69-year-old on the planet. No nursing home for him – he prefers the rock club.

Even though Bad Magic is precisely like nearly every other album Motorhead has ever done, it still has a few surprises. One is the blues flourish at the end of “Teach Them How to Bleed,” and another is the dirgey first verse of “Till the End.” But the biggest one is their cover of “Sympathy For the Devil,” originally by The Rolling Stones. As danger-based as the original is, it has a different kind of danger here. “Sympathy” has become notorious as a song that can’t be covered, or at least not well. Guns ‘N’ Roses’ dismal version is perhaps the most famous failure, but no band has been able to capture Mick Jagger’s slithering sexuality or Keith Richards’ skittering guitar style. Lemmy, on the other hand, says “Fuck that – it’s a Motorhead song.” They make it their own by abandoning what the Stones did in the first place – they probably think Mick and company are a bunch of pansies anyway. Based on how Motorhead performs this, Lemmy might actually be Lucifer himself.

Metal has been with us ever since Black Sabbath changed their name from Earth, some 46 years ago. It’s moved past the stage of adolescent growing pains and lack of originality to where what might seem trite and tired 20 years ago is now classical; you can’t have wine without grapes, or horse-riding without a saddle (actually you can – it’s just not any good), and it’s the same with metal. Like Ron Swanson with his hamburgers, Motorhead dispenses basic metal for the masses, no dressing needed. A burger is almost better when it’s not trussed up, just like Motorhead’s brand of punk-metal. And the fact that they’ve been doing it for so long isn’t boring – it’s impressive.

Track List:

  1. Victory or Die
  2. Thunder & Lightning
  3. Fire Storm Hotel
  4. Shoot Out All of Your Lights
  5. The Devil
  6. Electricity
  7. Evil Eye
  8. Teach Them How to Bleed
  9. Till the End
  10. Tell Me Who to Kill
  11. Choking On Your Screams
  12. When the Sky Comes Looking For You
  13. Sympathy For the Devil
Motorhead - Bad Magic
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

77 / 100
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