Motörhead - Inferno review
|Release date:||June 2004|
01. Terminal Show
03. In The Name Of Tragedy
05. Life's A Bitch
06. Down On Me
07. In The Black
09. In The Year Of The Wolf
10. Keys To The Kingdom
11. Smiling Like A Killer
12. Whorehouse Blues
Motorhead. What more can be said? Not many bands have had the drive, determination, or originality needed to constantly deliver quality metal for almost 30 years; but Motorhead has done just that. Under the direction of Lemmy Kilmister (a.k.a. God), Motorhead forged an easily recognizable sound in the late 70s/early 80s and have continued riding that same horse to this day. However, many fans began to wonder about Motorhead's future, following the lack of recent new material (with the exception of 2002's lackluster release Hammered). Motorhead's response? Inferno.
Shame on us for doubting Lemmy and the boys. Inferno looks enough like a classic Motorhead release on the outside with the ever present Motorhead logo aflame on the front of the LP and a simple band shot on the back. Looks enough like a Motorhead LP, but does it sound like one? The answer is a resounding yes.
"Terminal Show" is the first track out of the gate; the listener gets an early sense of one of the albums highlights: the production. This is a loud album to say the least, and you better have the speakers to handle it. The tones on the album are crystal clear, and producer Cameron Webb is able to capture the pure, aggressive style of the band without creating a muddy-sounding mix. Early Motorhead releases tend to have a slightly gritty guitar tone, which many fans say added to the charm, but with the band's later albums, Inferno included, the cleaner production is something to be marveled at.
The current lineup has been cemented for roughly 13 years, and one can easily tell: there are certain moments the musicians lock in with each other perfectly. It's easy to lose focus on which instrument is playing when and you begin to realize that this isn't Lemmy on bass, Mikkey on drums, and Phil on guitar, but it's the singular sound of one beast of a band blaring from the speakers, named Motorhead. That kind of sound only comes with experience; experience Motorhead certainly has.
Fans and newcomers alike who have learned to love that signature Motorhead groove will not be disappointed, with "Terminal Show," "Smiling Like A Killer," and "Fight" all delivering the fix. "Fight" deserves particular attention here as far as quality, and one wonders just how Lemmy, now pushing 60 years old, can still play this fast and this heavy. It goes to show any doubters that Motorhead have not lost any of that drive they've had the whole time.
The album does have its weak points. Listening to the entire LP all the way through can be a chore, as songs such as "In the Black" and "In The Name Of Tragedy" are simply more of the same. This is not an album upon which you will find songs to fit any mood, and just like any band that has come to embody such a signature sound, Motorhead do tend to fall into the trap of creating what is easy for them. A hardcore Motorhead fan might become slightly frustrated that the band does not seem to be taking many risks.
However, there are surprises within Inferno. First of all, many of the riffs are more than just your typical "on-the-one style" parts, with many starting before and behind the beat (hear "Down on Me" for instance), they offer a slight respite from the norm. Secondly, special guest guitar virtuoso Steve Vai takes guitar solos on both "Terminal Show" and "Down on Me," and are must hears for Vai fans. While Vai is known for being able to make the guitar do just about anything, he gels perfectly in with the Motorhead machine, delivering pentatonic blues licks with just enough finesse for people to still recognize his style. "Life's A Bitch" is a straight-up hard rock song, which finds Phil Campell playing riffs reminiscent of classic 1970s blues rock. Perhaps the biggest treat on the album is the closer, "Whorehouse Blues." Like the title suggests, it's a low down, dirty acoustic blues. It's also a real showcase for Lemmy's other talents: he branches out and plays the acoustic guitars, offers a mean harmonica solo, and sings with clean vocals (well, clean for Lemmy anyways).
Overall, the album would be good introduction for people new to the music of Motorhead. Not a great introduction, but a good one. For longtime fans of the band, it's an extremely reassuring reminder that the band is just as determined to make quality metal as always, and that their sound isn't going to evolve anytime soon. Look at that as a blessing or a curse, but when that unchanging music is the classic Motorhead sound, it's hard to view that fact as a negative. The album seems to have just enough deviations from the usual to keep it truly interesting and always rocking. On "Whorehouse Blues," Lemmy sings "You know life's full of surprises, you know we do that too." He certainly wasn't lying about Inferno.
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