Motörhead's Hammered

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It never works when you can work out what Lemmy is roaring about. The reason "Ace of Spades" is so gargantuan isn't just that it full-on rocks. Okay, that's mainly the reason. But it's also because the lyrics are so meaningless and dumb. Try to recall more than three words from that song, aside from "You win some/You lose some/It's all the same to me." No need. It's the larynx-shattering growl, the microphone positioned carefully six inches above Lemmy's head so he has to bust a gut even reaching it, that matter. A few words are okay, but no difficult posers.

This rule is vital. We don't want anything to intrude on our cranium-melting Motörhead experience. So please, no crystal-clear tones and puzzling questions like, "If you were in the movies/Who would you play?" from "Walk a Crooked Mile" on Hammered. Who cares? We just want to bang our fucking heads until welcome oblivion. And please, record no more crap spoken-word performances with WWW wrestling stars, delving deep into the sort of bad Gothic poetry even Trent Reznor would be ashamed of ("Serial Killer").

Still, the man has to have something to yell about.

Okay. Here's the reason why, after 25 years of relentless mayhem, Motörhead still rock. They keep it simple. They keep it within their limits. Guitar solos are thrown in because hell, what would heavy metal be without its solos, but they're always kept in their proper place (toward the song's end, where you can also fast-forward to the next song if you get bored). Lemmy has one of the genre's great voices. They don't try to "commercialize" their sound (as would sometimes happen with their old buddies, the Ramones). The music is always brutal and nasty. The lyrics are kept brief and brutal and nasty ("Kill the World," "Mine All Mine," "No Remorse"). Brutal and nasty drums thunder and rattle like they should. Riffs are low and mean and nasty and brutal. Youthful energy was long ago supplanted by vicarious power. Motörhead never lose sight of the one basic rule of rock: it has to rock.

And rock this album does. Okay, it's no Ace of Spades or Motörhead, but it's no Is This It either, and for that music-lovers the world over should be grateful. When I sat down to listen to this CD, I felt fine and at peace with mankind. I now have a throbbing headache. What higher recommendation is there?

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