Review Summary: They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but in Motorhead’s case you might as well try and this dog will bite you in the ass.
Motorhead have been doing the exact same thing for 40 years. Same solos, riffs, lyrics, ideas and albums. Their discography consists of 22 repetitions of the same music and the only parameter that changes is the cover art that every now and then, it suspiciously reminds a past one. They have found a formula that pleases their loyal fans who don’t know any other song than “Ace of Spades”. And what’s the big deal with Lemmy anyway? Even Hawkwind rejected him.
I say that’s bullsh*t. If it’s so easy, why don’t more bands do it? Unless they don’t need the money, fame and everything that comes with it. And of all the Motorhead/Venom clones that pop out every year, how many last in the long run? With the exception of a subpar period in the mid to late ‘90s and an unspectacular start at the beginning of 2000, Motorhead have been consistently solid. Inferno
was a significant come back in 2004 and since then, Lemmy and Co. seem to have found the fountain of youth (consisting of bourbon). Nevertheless, the deterioration of Lemmy’s health, naturally (?) raised some doubt regarding the quality of Motorhead’s new (?) release.
However, the band’s stubbornness and immunity to change is the main reason for delivering, once more, a solid album. Bad Magic
contains the usually loud and filthy rock-n’ roll-on-steroids formula that can be found on each and every release of the band. The furious drumming, the simple and memorable guitar riffing and the gritty vocals, form a constant that most of us take for granted. Of course, there are strong punk influences as well, such as on the album’s mission statement that is “Victory or Die” or “Electricity”. Moreover, the AC/DC-esque “Fire Storm Hotel”, “Tell Me Who to Kill” and “Till The End” provide a few welcome opportunities for listeners to catch their breath. Especially the latter, accompanied by an unusually emotional Motorhead solo, feels like a confession and a self-portrait of Lemmy. What’s more, there are your typical Motorhead speed metal tracks like “Thunder & Lightning” and “Teach Them How to Bleed” that feature Lemmy’s rhythm guitar bass approach.
Of course, as on every album there’s some filler which interestingly is the make or break point on some occasions. “The Devil”, “Evil Eye” and the Sacrifice
reminiscent “Chocking On Your Screams”, are neither up to par with the rest of the album nor awful tracks. In addition, even though only 42 minutes long, the album feels a bit tiresome towards the end which might be due to the similarity among a couple of its songs. Lastly, the cover of “Sympathy for the Devil” might have been better off as a B-side such as in the case of “Louie Louie” but it’s not a bad closer.
Undoubtedly, Bad Magic
doesn’t add anything significant to the legacy of the band. At the same time, it’s a statement that even though the landscape in music is changing, there are bands out there that are true to themselves and even health issues cannot derail them. Yes, Lemmy has lost a step or two and, if we want to be honest, Motorhead has been less than adept to change. But this is the charm of this band and a sign of resistance to modern times. So while in a purely musical approach, Bad Magic
is an enjoyable release, add the mythos of the band and that’s what makes almost every Motorhead release special.
Ian Fraser "Lemmy" Kilmister: 24 December 1945 – 28 December 2015