Reviews : Albums : Motorhead, "Bastards"

Motorhead, "Bastards"

This whole affair starts with the most anachronistic of sounds, that of the stylus dropping onto fresh vinyl. Something about that sound, even digitally rendered, signifies nostalgic retrogression. And in this case it couldn't be more apt or welcome.

Gone are the guest stars that cluttered up the last album. Gone are the silly cover songs. Back on the throne, pulverizing the drums is Mickey Dee for his second go-round with Motorhead, and his impact on this album is palatable. Lemmy is on bass of course, and this time it's Wurzel and Phillip Campbell on the guitars. It's Motorhead's fourteenth album, and it's one hell of a bastard.

Motorhead has been around since Lemmy got the boot by the space-cases in Hawkwind, way back in the golden '70's. Once dubbed "The worst band in the world" by the British press, they've struggled on against formidable odds that would have leveled a more conscious band. This one was recorded by the band with no record label backing, and released only through an arrangement with ZYX Records.

It starts kicking ass right from the first song, "On Your Feet or On Your Knees", Lemmy's unique voice busting through Wurzel and Campbell's roaring guitars. This is a pissed off band, the proverbial iron fist pounding flesh into mush. And then they crank it up a notch with "Burner", really propelled by Mickey Dee's drums, a grinding speed fest which relentlessly batters away. Next up are two of Motorhead's finest war songs, "Death or Glory" and "I Am the Sword", which despite being well tread territory are both awesome songs and absolutely devastating live. "Born to Raise Hell" is a more traditional Motorhead anthem, not quite as spine chilling as the first four but pretty rocking in it's own right.

And then the album does one hell of a left turn with the anti-incest ballad "Don't Let Daddy Kiss Me". It's a creepy song, both in content and delivery, and the ballad packaging is creepier still. But it is effective. Still, we used to skip past it on a hard drinking Friday night because it was just too much of a downer.

Back on track with "Bad Woman", which is another that's more in line with the older Motorhead sound, complete with a piano track buried in there somewhere. Then comes "Liar", a churning chugfest of beer drinking metal with a sweet groove. "Lost in the Ozone" is another heavy metal ballad. Lemmy's voice is emoting like only he can, and he even sneaks in a bit of a bass solo. "I'm Your Man" is a cool bluesy rocker, sporting elegant guitar bits. "We Bring the Shake" is one of those statement-of-intent songs, and despite being a not uninteresting song is the weakest on the album. "Devils" rounds out the whole sweaty affair, a fitting conclusion, Lemmy waxing as poetic as Motorhead are ever bound to get.

It's a hell of a thing, loose and rockin', but vicious and snarling at the same time. I've always been partial to this album, and it was a pleasure to see them on tour in support of "Bastards", opening for a limp incarnation of Black Sabbath. A worthy addition to your heavy metal collection!

Standout Tracks

   Death or Glory
   I Am the Sword