There are three constants in life: Death, Taxes, and Motörhead. While the former two will be constants throughout the remainder of human history, the latter has been in question the past few years due to the recurring health issues of one Mr. Lemmy Kilmister. Nevertheless, any new Motörhead album brings a smile to my face due to its mere existence, which brings us to 2015’s Bad Magic.
Do I really need to give any background on Motörhead? Unless you’re still in your teens and accidentally wandered over to this blog via a misspelled Google search, you should know who Motörhead is by this point — blues-influenced traditional heavy metal with some underlying groove tendencies.
Like like their contemporaries AC/DC, Motörhead is a band who hasn’t shown much evolution in its nearly forty years of existence, and the question becomes: If I already own a one or more Motörhead albums, do I really need to check out another one? Aside from the gut instinct to reply "Yes, just because it’s Motörhead", that’s a tricky question to answer.
Bad Magic is their twenty-third album (not including live albums, compilations, EPs, etc.), and… Actually, let that number sink in a moment: Twenty-Fucking-Three. The first six to eight albums are classics with nary a weak track among them. Things dipped a bit in the 1990s (along with most music in general during that decade), and began picking up a bit after that. Additionally, no one in the band remotely resembles the proverbial "spring chicken". Lemmy is pushing seventy, while Phil and Mikkey are in their early- to mid-fifties.
The album opens with Victory or Death featuring that classic Motörhead rhythm featuring Lemmy’s thundering, chord-driven bass line. From there, it’s onto what may be the album’s highlight, Thunder and Lightning, featuring some potentially autobiographical anecdotes in the lyrics. This is a windows-down, stereo-blasting driving tune if there was one.
Fire Storm Hotel has some infectious blues licks, Shoot Out All of Your Lights seems expressly written for a live crowd, and Teach Them How to Bleed and Tell Me Who to Kill have some of the strongest bass lines in the entire album.
Honestly, trying to do a track-by-track breakdown of a Motörhead album is a somewhat pointless exercise, so here’s the short version: Are you a Motörhead fan, and what did you think of Aftershock? If your answers to both of those questions are positive, then Bad Magic is an album you should check out. If you were on the fence with Aftershock, know that Bad Magic is a more up-tempo rocker with only one ballad (Till the End) and shows the old geezers still have a few tricks up their sleeves.
I’m sure a lot of other reviewers will toss out the "if this was the last Motörhead album…" phrase, and given recent developments, it has to be in the backs of everyone’s mind. Instead, I’ll say as Motörhead’s latest album, Bad Magic is a worthy entry to the band’s catalog. It outshines its predecessor, and is exactly what anyone could want from a Motörhead album.