It’s been three years since Motorhead last released a studio album, the biggest gap in their discography since 1991. But now, the wait is over. Lemmy and company return with ‘Aftershock’, disproving any notion that the legendary front man’s recent health issues might slow the band down.
It’s well known that Motorhead tends to get a bad reputation (or a good one, depending on who you ask) for releasing basically the same album over and over.
While it’s true that it’s been a long time since the band was considered cutting edge, they always seem to find a way to write quality music, and ‘Aftershock’ is no exception. Motorhead doesn’t break any new ground with this album, but they continue to do what they have always done extremely well: mixing elements of blues, rock, punk, and metal into a cohesive package.
All four of those elements are present here on ‘Aftershock’ in spades, and the end result is a much more diverse album than 2010’s ‘The World is Yours’. Of course, there are plenty of Motorhead’s signature high-tempo headbangers to be had here. “Heartbreaker” and “Queen of the Damned” are good examples. However, it’s the more mid-tempo songs which stand out on this record.
Tracks like “Knife” and “Death Machine” do a great job of mixing up tempos and showcasing the rhythm section tag team of Lemmy’s growling bass and Mikkey Dee’s excellent drumming. On a different note, “Lost Woman Blues” lives up to its name, steering far further in a bluesy direction than any recent Motörhead song. It does so to good effect, and is one of the highlights of the album.
Another pleasant surprise is the rockabilly piano line behind the chorus of “Crying Shame”, a fun, innuendo-laced rocker which makes excellent use of Phil Campbell’s economical-yet-potent guitar work. “Keep Your Powder Dry” follows in a similar vein, trading the innuendos for an upbeat message about staying true to yourself, a topic about which Motörhead certainly has some expertise.
Unfortunately, not all the tracks on “Aftershock” live up to the high standard set by those mentioned above. “Coup de Grace” and “Going to Mexico” don’t really bring anything special to the table, and “Paralyzed” ends the album on a somewhat uninspired note. The most glaring issue, however, is the disappointingly underdeveloped “Dust and Glass”. The track starts off laid back and bluesy, and feels like it has the potential to build into an epic climax, but unfortunately it fizzles out before it gets there.
Despite these setbacks, “Aftershock” remains a solid album. There may be some filler, but a Motorhead album is like good sausage: The filler is forgivable if the overall experience is enjoyable. Not to mention, the fantastic production provides a thundering sound scape which helps keep even the more pedestrian tracks from becoming too tiresome on the ear.
Indeed, “Aftershock” is a fitting title. When combined, the earthy bass, full bodied guitar, and punchy drum attack could easily measure on the Richter scale. It’s quite impressive that producer Cameron Webb manages to churn out a mix which is so in-your-face without succumbing to the clipping and compression problems rampant in many modern recordings.
All in all, this album will certainly be appreciated by fans who find themselves in need of a new Motörhead fix. If you fall into that category, definitely pick up a copy. However, if you are one of the many who feel the band’s sound has become stale, “Aftershock” likely won’t change your mind. If you’re not familiar with Motorhead, definitely give this album a listen. It may not be their best work, but it is a good representation of their sound, and an enjoyable listen throughout.