Motörhead’s Bad Magic: What’d You Expect, a Tea Party?


There’s something annoying bands that turn on a dime every album. While it’s totally understandable to not want to repeat or plagiarize one’s self, and while musical progression from one record to the next is necessary, there’s something disheartening about listening to a new record by a favorite band only to discover they’ve abandoned what made them interesting. There’s a beauty to the single-mindedness of the Old Reliables—bands like Cannibal Corpse, or AC/DC, or, oh yeah, Motörhead.

So, with that in mind, listeners can’t come into Bad Magic expecting something new, or different, or terribly progressive. A metalhead who simply doesn’t care for Motörhead will not listen to this record and suddenly find themselves a convert. Unfortunately for those people, Bad Magic is a Motörhead album much like the others. Fortunately for the rest of us, it’s just that.

Not to say this is just Ace of Spades repeated forty years later. In keeping with 2013’s Aftershock, there is a more straightforward heavy metal sound present on Bad Magic, with a thicker guitar tone, big gang vocals, and more mid-paced showcasing of Lemmy’s biting lyrics (which, as always, are just fucking amazing). Lemmy himself also sounds older, physically—there is a faint slur to all of his vocals, and his signature growl sounds a bit hoarser than it once did. But who cares? At this point in Motörhead’s career, one doesn’t want Lemmy to sound fresh and youthful. Part of the band’s allure is a world-weary road dog attitude, the voice of the person who’s seen everything and likes whiskey better than most of it.

Going track by track on Bad Magic feels tedious—it’s a Motörhead album, it sounds like Motörhead—but a few highlights are worth noting. Opener “Victory or Die” is a kickass middle finger of a track, and follower “Thunder & Lightning” has a frantic rage at its core that will have fans raising fists and hell alike. “Shoot Out All Of Your Lights” is an excellent festival anthem, while “Evil Eye” has a country-fried danceability to it that makes you think of taking your sweetheart to prom at Boot Hill. “Teach Them How To Bleed” might be the album’s fastest track, and will no doubt inspire a number of speeding tickets. Meanwhile, “Till The End” is the album’s ballad, and speaks of the Lemmy we know today—the older gentleman who has wandered the earth, who knows that his time left is shorter than he’d like it to be, but who continues moving forward for the sake of the doing so.

That is what perhaps makes Bad Magic a standout in Motörhead’s discography: its timing. The past year has shown us that Lemmy is perhaps as mortal as we. For some, this would prompt an album full of introspective musical apologies that can be sold at the counter at Starbucks. But fuck that, Motörhead are not just some band, and instead they use their 22nd studio album to throw one final middle finger in the face of Time, Death, and all those other cosmic bastards. Let other bands worry about reinventing the fire on every album. Motörhead lit it in the first place, and it still burns like Hell.

Motörhead’s Bad Magic is out now. Stream the entire album here and get it here.

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