Review Summary: Driving basslines, fast paced rock beats and rockin' guitar riffs. Despite some issues with song length and filler this album is superb.Motorhead
Motorhead’s 10th studio album, 1916
was released in 1991. By this point and time Motorhead had already earned a reputation as one of the greatest heavy metal acts of all time. Although, such a reputation can be difficult to maintain, especially this far along in a band’s career as new ideas tend to run thin. However, the aforementioned fate was clearly not intended for Motorhead. This album possesses, in full, all of the relentless, hard rockin’ tenacity that made Motorhead so popular to begin with. Aside from a few slower points, this album is simply frantic. Fueled by driving bass lines and fast rock beats this album is a massive ball of energy. This high-octane level of energy is furthered by Lemmy’s extremely aggressive, passionate vocals. On top of all that, this album contains some damn fine guitar work. There’s an abundance of riffs and solos and the rhythm guitar was exceptionally solid, too.
Lyrically, this album has no set theme. It delves into several different topics, none of which were particularly original or interesting. Surprisingly enough, one of the issues this album focuses on is pretty much the last thing you would expect a band called ‘Motorhead’ to sing about
: Love. The album’s opening track The One To Sing The Blues
firmly represents this. The song tells the tale of a couple feuding and ultimately parting ways. Take these lyrics for example: I’m out of place again, you’re on my case again, bring up the past and sling it back in my face again
. The opener wasn’t the only track to speak of love. There was also Love Me Forever
. This track also seemed unusually tender for Motorhead. I think the opening line would best exemplify my point: Love me forever, or not at all, end of our tether, back to the wall. Give me your hand and don’t every ask why
. However, this album did have some lyrical topics that you would
expect from a band entitled Motorhead. The album’s title track 1916
speaks of a sixteen year old boy who lies about his age to get into the army. At first the boy seems to think nothing of his decision to take part in war, but towards the end of the song -whilst he weeps next his dying comrade- realizes what a terrible decision he made. Overall, in the lyrical department this album offered nothing particularly special, or original, but certainly nothing to scoff at either.
While the lyrics failed to impress, the instrumentals did just the opposite. This album displayed some somewhat varied, consistently excellent guitar work. At times it was rapidly paced and at others the pace seemed to dawdle. At times the guitar was really distorted and others it was clean toned with only a hint of gain (granted there was a lot more distortion than clean tone, overall). On the grand scale that may not seem all that varied, but it’s more diverse than a lot of Motorhead’s older work. The riffs were definitely the back bone of this album. There was an utter multitude of them and most of were quite well written and occasionally catchy. Case in point, the opening riff to The One To Sing The Blues
. The solos were on par with riffs, as they were consistently splendid. The solos in slower tracks like Love Me Forever
seemed more so bend orientated with splashes of wah thrown in, while the solos in the quicker tracks like Make My Day
were usually completely drenched in wah and chiefly comprised of scales and not so much bends. Even when the guitar was prime target for the listener’s attention it was still good. Naturally, I’m speaking of the rhythm guitar. For the most part it was infectious combinations of power chords, but occasionally little things like pinch harmonics were thrown in. The harmonics didn’t contribute a whole lot, but they definitely made some songs more interesting and helped keep the listener’s attention.
The bass and drums also put forth admirable efforts. The bass was hard to hear at times, but compared to most other heavy metal outfits it had great presence. It was easiest to hear in the lighter tracks, as there wasn’t as much gain to drown it out. Unfortunately, the bass didn’t have any standout moments, like it’s own intro or anything, but at least its presence was felt. I’m not exactly sure whether Lemmy plays with his fingers, or uses a pick, but he certainly had good wholesome tone. The percussion was delightful as well. It wasn’t overly complex, but it still had it moments hear and there. The most noteworthy moment being in the album opener The One To Sing The Blues
. The track opens with a sort of primal beat on the toms, like something you would expect to hear in an Indian tribe.
As far as Lemmy’s vocals go I could take them, or leave them. His voice isn’t like nails on a chalk board, but it’s not exactly sex for your ears either. His voice is kind of unique really. It’s British, but extremely raspy which isn’t something you hear very often. I suppose it’s a good thing that Lemmy doesn’t have a church-choir-quality voice. If his voice was clean toned it would suite Motorhead’s atmosphere at all. In a nutshell, Lemmy’s voice may not be perfect, but it’s perfect for Motorhead.
I do have minor qualms with this album, one of said qualms being filler. Usually filler isn’t too big a for me, unless there’s an abundance of it, but album’s filler was pretty bad. What I mean by that is usually a “filler” track is usually a track that’s okay, but doesn’t quite measure up to the rest. I find this album’s filler to actually be difficult to listen to. For example, Nightmare/Dreamtime
. This track was unbearably boring and tediously repetitive. I would say “I wish they would just take that track out”, but that would make my second qualm even worse. What is my second qualm" Album length. The album had eleven tracks the longest being just under five minutes and the shortest being just under a minute and a half. The album’s total length is 39 minutes and twenty-one seconds. A lot of tracks really should have been longer.
Overall, this album was well worth the time it took to listen to it. I’d highly recommend it to Motorhead loyalists, or even casual fans. Otherwise you may want to stick with their earlier works. While this album does represent the relentless, hard rockin’ tenacity of Motorhead’s early material, it’s not quite up to the overall quality of Motorhead’s classics such as Ace of Spades
Bass had good presence