Ah, Motorhead. Once dubbed 'The loudest loons on the planet' by the Guinness Book of Records, they've been known for such Hard Rock classics such as 'Ace of Spades' and 'Overkill'. But following the release of 'Ace of Spades', which is labeled as the bands highest achievement, a follow-up album was called for. Now, after a band releases an amazing album, there's a lot of pressure. Pressure from fans for another great one. Pressure from the record company to get it out soon. And pressure on themselves on how to write a follow-up. Most bands might take the approach of, 'Well, lets try out something new and see if that's great too!' Ex: Slayer's extreme speed/thrash album 'Reign in Blood' was followed by the slower, more haunting 'South of Heaven'. But alas, most times, this does not bode well for the musicians. In this case, I turn to Metallica, with after their critically acclaimed 'Black Album' (adored by critics, accepted by fans), came 'Load'. No more needs to be said.
However, the boys of Motorhead have always had a card up their sleeve. Each album, while never straying from their roots of what Lemmy calls 'One-half punk, one-half metal, and one-half good-ole rock n roll', always has its own unique feel to it. Such is the case for 'Iron Fist'.
Denied by critics at first for not being 'Ace of Spades II', and for being labeled as 'Moving to slicker, more acceptable sound', Eddie Clarke left a nice little saying for them:
'When no-one wants to know you, like in Motorhead, we fought against everyone. Everybody hated us, but we kept going. We had the attitude of, 'Bollocks to you, we'll show you!''
And 'show you' they did.
'Iron Fist' is like a blender. Throw in the punk-aggression from 'Overkill', add ' of the tempo from 'Bomber', and then squeeze the raw in-your-face rock approach from 'Ace of Spades', and out slides 'Iron Fist', just waiting to be drunk down as fast as you can. Each song on here is just as unique and individual as their previous efforts. The opener, 'Iron Fist' is more reminiscent of the 'Ace of Spades' era, with an opening thumping and pounding bassline that is almost dead-on like the bassline from the track 'Ace of Spades'. However, it's chorus is a tad bit more melodic, as with most of the tracks are here. '(Don't Need) Religion' and 'Speedfreak' also feature pounding bassline intros. Tracks such as 'Iron Fist', 'Go to Hell', 'Heart of Stone', and 'Sex and Outrage' take the more 'Hard Rock' approach, with quick riffs that are just some notes played, then sewed together by palm mutes, then more notes, then repeat. This is especially true on 'Heart of Stone', in which the opening riff (also the main riff), is full of raw, old school power and thick palm mutes that push the song along. Their large punk influence is greatly shown on the track '(Don't Let'Em) Grind Ya Down' in which it's just more straight-forward type riffing before the verse comes in, which then is Eddie and Lemmy just start bouncing around in an ordered fashion. 'Speedfreak' also has a nice punk blend to it, because of the speed of the song, and the opening, straight-to-your face galloping bassline. Some Blues-Rock even makes an appearance, with tracks such as 'Loser' and 'Bang to Rights'. On 'Loser', which is the slowest song on the album, Eddie kicks off the song with a little Blues-Rock riff, which is just some notes played over and over, till he pauses and repeats. Even during the bridge, he finds time to throw in some notes that are bent and repeats them a few times. 'America' uses metal-esque riffs that are just chunked notes interlocked with a quick palm mute, then even more notes.
Also ever-present on 'Iron Fist', unlike on their previous albums, save maybe 'Bomber', is the appearance of a more 'melodic' side of Motorhead. 'Iron Fist', 'Go to Hell', 'Loser', 'Sex and Outrage', 'America', and pretty much every song on this album has more melody in their chorus than their previous efforts. It's especially apparent on 'Loser' and 'America', in which Lemmy makes a small effort to match his voice with the instruments. While most of this will go unnoticed by many, it's still present, and it's a good improvement.
If a band is brash, loud, and rude, wouldn't it be weird if their vocalist sounded like a girl with a high-pitched voice' Thank god that's not Lemmy. He is probably even more gruff-sounding than his band all put together. The guy sounds like he was a smoker starting at age 5. He's got a gruff, deep-voice that seems to stick to the instruments and never want to leave their side. Does he sing' A little bit. Is it more of talk' Yup. After 'Iron Fist', you've pretty much his entire vocal range, which is just'well, gruff-talking. However, on 'Loser', 'America' and 'Don't Need Religion', he takes a swing at almost singing. The only reason he does this is to give the chorus a more 'melodic' feel to it. It's practically no different than his normal vocal work, save the fact that it is slightly higher. Sometimes he will mutter, which is the case on 'Loser', when he mutters to himself 'So many people have tried to take me down'' and so forth. I should also point out that Lemmy is infected with the Random-Yell-Syndrome, which is that during a song he likes to yell 'YEA!' or 'Not me, Soldier!' randomly just before something like a solo, or a faster part of the song.
Now, if you play loud, your vocalist is deep sounding, would it make any sense to have lyrics about anything besides the rock life, sex, and anger' No, it probably wouldn't. The lyrics off this album are meant for good smile or two, and I'll be damned if you don't. The lines 'Teenage, backstage, sex and outrage' and 'I think you know, Exactly what I'm trying to get at' are well, all related to sex, and those come off of, surprise surprise!, 'Sex and Outrage'. Lemmy has had a history of talking about teenage girls that he wants to take backstage, which was blatantly obvious on 'Jailbait' off of 'Ace of Spades'. 'Don't want no sleep, Up for a week, Yes, I'm a speekfreak, speedfreak' come off the blisteringly fast 'Speedfreak'. For those of you who don't know, he is not talking about being a very fast person here. Lemmy has been labeled by his band mates as being 'the person who has taken the most speed'ever'. Also, Lemmy's father was part of the church, but then abandoned his family. As a result, it left Lemmy with a disliking of religion, hence the lyrics on '(Don't Need) Religion'. 'Don't need Jesus Christ Superstar, Don't need no Sunday Television'. It's not that Lemmy is saying 'F-God!', but he wants it to be known how he feels about religion in general, so for all of you people who hate evil-god-hating lyrics, don't worry too much. All in all, the lyrics, just like the band, are rude, almost offensive, and damn fun.
For my fellow bassists out there, you all can grin now. Lemmy is a talented bassist. While he never throws out branch-offs or fills quite like Steve Harris, he takes a more simple approach. His intros on 'Iron Fist', 'Speedfreak', and '(Don't Need) Religion' are all more of thumping straight-forward type playing, intended not to impress the listener, but grab their attention long enough for the song to kick off. Usually, if Lemmy branches-off, it will be right before the song, with maybe a slide with some notes played on the way down, such as on '(Don't Let'Em) Grind Ya Down'.
'Fast' Eddie Clarke could be one of the most underrated guitarists of our time. All of his solos take the more 'emotional' side of things, following the tempo and mood of the song, instead of just mindless shredding. Solos on tracks such as 'Loser' stay along with the tempo of the song, and gradually pick up some speed, just like the songs do. However, when Eddie feels the need to shred, he shreds. Big time. Tracks such as 'Speedfreak' and 'I'm the Doctor' showcase shredfests. On 'Speedfreak', it's balls-to-wall playing for Eddie. He combines his whammy-bar within his solo, and just lets it rip. All of these solos are well thought out and executed. None of them feel redundant, or overused.
Do I believe they made a great follow-up to an amazing album' Yes I do. I actually prefer the more melodic approach on 'Iron Fist' then to the straight-up rock-out fest on 'Ace of Spades'. But still, it's an album that must be owned by all if you are into Motorhead, Hard Rock, or even Metal. Buy this, don't cheat yourself, buy it now.
Go to Hell
(Don't Need) Religion