Review Summary: Born to raise hell
Chances are that when Lemmy was fired from Hawkwind in 1975, he had no idea that it was actually a gift sent from the gods of metal. In an era where hard rock was getting old and tired, punk was rightfully becoming the refuge for teen angst. He was chosen to bring together the best of both worlds and create Motorhead. If you wonder what was the outcome, it was generally negative reviews; to the extent where their debut was even declared as the worst album of the year by some publications. In typical Lemmy fashion, he changed almost nothing but the fact that he played even louder.
The outcome of the above was a huge (probably) involuntary fvck you to all doubters, in the form of Overkill
. In typical media fashion, publications had a change of heart and wrote dithyrambs for the band, after seeing how they were embraced by the youth. From the iconic cover art, to the relentless content, Motorhead’s sophomore release was their breakthrough at the time and is an undisputable classic today. The reasons extended well beyond its musical content, as Lemmy and Co. injected to hard music the original ingredients that were starting to fade away; sex, drugs and eventually character once again. Overkill
provided a safe haven to all the misfits and raised a middle finger to their oppressors.
From the instantly recognizable double-bass start of its title track and the melodic bassline, the album reeked of aggression, sweat and badassery. In the meantime, created speed metal, contributed to the birth of thrash metal and possibly every form of extreme metal as even legendary Fenriz (Darkthrone) lists Phil Taylor as one of his major influences. Nevertheless, the success of Overkill
lies on its basis as well which is the blues and classic rock; older fans could identify with Motorhead’s music as well. Tracks like “Stay Clean”, “(I Won’t) Pay Your Price”, “I’ll Be Your Sister” and “Capricorn” are so addictive and catchy because of their melodic and groovy nature. Lemmy’s voice – the outcome of binge drinking and heavy smoking – is perfect for the subject matter of the album which is none else than the founding elements of rock n roll. Of course, Overkill
wouldn’t be the same without Eddie Clarke’s playing; his leads and solos are some of the reasons that make this album so iconic.
In the process, the LP spawned numerous staples such as “No Class” – which Lemmy wrote for “Fast” Eddie – “Metropolis” – which was sang as “Acropolis” on their concert in Athens, Greece as a tribute to the fans – and “Damage Case” that Metallica covered on Hugh Hefner’s party (in what seems like) a billion years ago. Every song has a rock n roll story behind it which makes the album so special. Its monolithic and aggressive nature described explicitly in songs like “Tear Ya Down” and “Limb from Limb” is what makes Motorhead’s music appeal equally today as it did more than 35 years ago.
People state that Motorhead never changed but there lies their biggest virtue. Without straying an inch from their path, they managed to be successful and speak to the heart of rockers and metalheads for so long. The gods of metal couldn’t have selected a better individual than Lemmy to save hard music in the end of the ‘70s and god knows he delivered. In Lemmy we trust…
Ian Fraser "Lemmy" Kilmister: 24 December 1945 – 28 December 2015