Motorhead packs a vicious thrash-metal punch with 1916
By J. DEVIN MACKENZIE
AFTER A PERIOD OF THIN releases, Motorhead is back with 1916. 1916 recalls the spirit and energy of "Ace of Spades" with its invigorating display of Motorhead's hybrid of punk and heavy metal.
With an appreciation for the British punk attitude of the Sex Pistols as well as the throbbing power of Deep Purple's "Machine Head" and Black Sabbath's "Paranoid," Motorhead forged the thrash-metal musical form into being. Since then, bands like Metallica, Megadeth and Testament have explored and refined thrash's raw, expressive power. These bands have produced some excellent material, but 10 years later, much of the original vigor of the thrash-metal genre has died out. Luckily, Motorhead has returned to the forefront with this shot of fresh, rejuvenating material.
On 1916, the band is in top form. Crushing guitar riffs and meaty percussion power the Motorhead music machine behind Lemmy "Been Smoking Camels since I was 3" Kilminster's gritty howl. The high points of the album are the blistering opening track, "The One to Sing the Blues," the desperately textured "Love Me Forever," and the genuine, rocking tribute "Ramones."
"The One to Sing the Blues" showcases the tight, driving percussion of drummer Philthy Animal (son of Mr. and Mrs. Animal?) and the aggressive, twin-guitar attack of Phil Wizzo Campbell and Wurzel Burston. The song kicks in with a tumbling drum flurry and then breaks into an open highway jam. Fast time changes and abrupt pauses display the band's adroit, accurate musicianship and contribute to a fresh, live atmosphere.
Surprisingly, Motorhead effectively adapts their fast, raw sound to the slow, melody-based "Love Me Forever." With the opening line "Love me forever, or not at all," Kilminster's lyrics set the stage for a pained, grinding plea for loyalty and honesty in a world of chaos and corruption. The dark mood of the song is tastefully accented with two soulful lead breaks from guitarist Campbell. With soaring dynamics and a tasteful treatment of tone and tempo, Campbell's solos complement and enrich the melancholy texture of the song.
"Ramones" begins with the infamous "one, two, three, four. . . . " and jumps straight into an adrenaline-pumped celebration of that band. The lyrics and the song structure are both modeled after the Ramones' distinctive, playful format. This song suggests an interesting link between the Ramones and Motorhead. Motorhead has mixed punk and heavy metal in the same way that the Ramones blended punk and pop. Of course, the song lasts an entire one minute and 20 seconds.
Other interesting spots on 1916 include the hilarious "Angel City." Here, Kilminster mocks the Los Angeles glamour-rock superstars with passages like, "I wanna grow my hair, live in Bel Air, lose my head, keep a live snake in my bed, I wanna backstage pass, drink Bon Jovi's booze for free." The lyrics are backed
up by a 12-bar, Chuck Berryish stomp complete with snappy, blues-scale guitar doodling.
Unless the novelty of "Ramones" catches on in a big way, you may never hear 1916 on the radio. This is probably a good thing. Aside from the fact that airplay time is usually inversely proportional to substance, 1916 might finally put that first wrinkle in Dick Clark's eternally youthful face.
If the glitz-rock of MTV puppets like Poison and Slaughter have left you flat, the comic-strip ravings of thrashers like Anthrax have lost their charm, and you want something that absolutely will not be sampled for the next Tone Loc album, this is it.