“Victory or Die!” roars Lemmy Kilmister to launch the twenty-second album of Motörhead’s long, storied and legendary forty-year career. Coming into Bad Magic (UDR GmbH) on the back of one of their most successful albums of recent years, the opener is an archetypical ‘headbanger, all punked up rock n’ roll, with the Ace of Spades barking out “Who knows what the fuck it’s all about?!” in his distinctive voice.
Producer Cameron Webb has done a great job in capturing an energetic quasi-retrospective live rock sound with Mikkey Dee his usual pounding, driving self, launching ‘Shoot Out All Your Lights’ – a track with recalls the bands triumphant Bastards and Sacrifice (SPV/Steamhammer) combo of the 90’s – with a trademark thunderous fill, while Phil Campbell does indeed bring the bad magic; his frenetic bluesy lead-work squealing, his rhythm chops chunky on the beefed up blitzkrieg bop of ‘Electricity’, and his riffs bringing the dirty boogie on ‘When The Sky Comes Looking For You’.
There are only two types of Motörhead albums; good ones and great ones and there is no shame at all that this falls into the former category. A wholly enjoyable album, nonetheless it does lack strength in song-writing depth, despite the mentioned highlights, along with the years and health scares being obvious in a frailer sounding Lemmy. However, this has to be tempered with understanding, and this doesn’t mean the great man isn’t still capable of rolling back the years, as his filthy bass kicks off ‘Teach Them How To Bleed’, a track with recalls ‘Iron Fist’, and he’s at his gravel-toned best on the ‘Born To Raise Hell’-ish ‘Firestorm Hotel’.
If, as expected, Bad Magic does prove to be their parting studio shot it’ll leave the Motörheadbangers satisfied. While not their strongest outing, nonetheless it contains everything that is, and always will be, Motörhead; a selection of songs that are an undeniably distinctive speedball mix of middle-finger-up rock n’ fucking roll.
Lemmy may have switched from bourbon to vodka for his health, but the song, of course, remains resolutely and unashamedly the same.