Review Summary: One word can summarize this album: Badass.
The year is 1979. With classic albums such as The Clash's London Calling
, or AC/DC's gargantuan megahit, Highway to Hell
, it's often hard to find one caring about the British metal trio Motorhead
. Their second album, Overkill
, is the landmark album that boosted them into heavy metal mythology. Fronted by bassist and vocalist Lemmy Kilmister, they ARE the ultimate image of badassery
. With his black button down slightly open to reveal his manly chest hair, cigarette hanging from his mouth, and grungy black hair flying about while he yells as what is often interpreted as "singing".
This "singing" by Lemmy is characterized by a deep, raspy growl of disjointed words. When you spin this record it is, and always has been obvious that Lemmy's lungs are plagued with oversmoking and tar. Now, this might sound horrendous at first, but you haven't listened to Motorhead yet. It's a double standard as Motorhead isn't Motorhead without Lemmy, and Lemmy cannot sing for jack sh*t unless he is apart of Motorhead and their collective sound. But then we find ourselves with their guitarist, "Fast" Eddie Clark. The guitar virtuoso got his nickname for a reason, that being he could play that six string mutha' damn quick. Sure this doesn't give the slightest bit of justice to Eddie's often western-style of shredding, but that doesn't make it any less true. We then find ourselves with Phil "Philthy Animal" Taylor. Besides the fact that you are probably laughing from the obvious gimmickry of this band, this sonuvabitch can beat those snares and double bass like no ones business. He isn't necessarily the most important part of Motorhead, but at the time of Overkill
, he did quite a bit to characterize the sound of the band.
First thing is first though. Press play on your iTunes, jam that puppy in your cd player, whatever...BOOM. The Philthy Animal explodes his double bass into your eardrums alongside a rockin' snare beat. The first time I heard this I wanted to bang my head like an 80's moshpit wannabe. This first song is the infamous title track, Overkill
, and it is pure, raw, unadultered Motorhead-style rock. Lemmy's bass riff then jumps in, like with his rather signature quick and clear sound. Throughout the album, Lemmy's bass almost has the feel of a toned down guitar. Fast Eddie then begins his quick series of metal chords and this song jettisons in to a flurry. Three choruses later, Eddie brings in his first solo of the album, which in itself is quite impressive. Yet, just as you think the song is over, and the solo fades...bam, the pounding double bass of Phil starts back up again and the wail of Clarke's solo gets revived, and just as powerful as ever. Then the song stops again, and then they decided the Animal should bring the double bass back in with another solo. Of course this may seem taxing at and unneeded on a first listen, but this strange and unique twist to the song is what makes it so appealling. The trio really did "Overkilled" the song.
Like most Motorhead songs, the lyrics are nothing above juvenille party poems. An excellent example of this woud be the first couple of lines on the album.
"Only way to feel the noise is when it's good and loud,
So good you can't believe it's screaming with the crowd,
Don't sweat it, get it back to you,
Sure they're nothing to write home about, but they work well with the music and flow of the album. Lemmy never promised shakespeare.
The next song is Stay Clean
, the another clear standout track. It follows a rather formulaic Motorhead pattern of progressing chords, verse chorus verse, a guitar solo, and a rather pleasing bass solo at 1:10, something that many modern metal bands lake nowadays. All and all its effectiveness doesn't come from the actual song itself, but the presentation that Motorhead has. Motorhead is all about the presentation of a song, similar to their contemporary rival AC/DC. Most of their work have rather similar song structures and lyrics, but what makes the tracks so effective is that its not just anyone singing, its Lemmy Kilmister dammit. It's not just anyone playing the guitar, its Fast Eddie Clarke dammit. Its not just anyone playing music, its Motorhead dammit.
The rest of the album continues onward after Stay Clean
, and one could probably say it is rather futile to discuss each of the remaining songs as they all have the same sound and structure. That's wrong, its not futile, its a damn injustice to Motorhead
to do this. One could never embody Motorhead in a simple analytical paragraph, because then they would be forgetting everything that makes the band who they are. Each of these songs are purely fun and nostalgic (even though this album was released 11 years before i was even born). Their simple, raw nature is what makes each one of them so individualistic and appealing. From the raspy speech to grinding guitar chords, excellent drumming, and headbanging bass 'riffs'. To anyone who loves their classic metal origins, buy this album. In its veins lie some of the real roots of metal in its purest form. One word can summarize this album: Badass.
-I'll Be Your Sister
-Limb By Limb