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Motorhead - "Aftershock" (CD)

Motorhead - "Aftershock" CD cover image

"Aftershock" track listing:

1. Heartbreaker
2. Coup De Grace
3. Lost Woman Blues
4. End Of Time
5. Do You Believe
6. Death Machine
7. Dust And Glass
8. Going To Mexico
9. Silence When You Speak To Me
10. Crying Shame
11. Queen Of The Damned
12. Knife
13. Keep Your Powder Dry
14. Paralyzed

Reviewed by on October 22, 2013

"True to its name, Motorhead's 'Aftershock' isn't quite the earth-shaking experience that its predecessor, 'The World Is Yours' was, but it's still quite a good album in its own right."

Following up a masterpiece is always rough business. Would AC/DC's "For Those About To Rock ..." or Black Sabbath's "Mob Rules" have been better regarded had they not followed the likes of "Back In Black" and "Heaven And Hell?" To put it in an even better context for this review, would Motorhead's "Iron Fist" be considered to be a better album had it not followed "Ace Of Spades?"

After the near-perfection of "The World Is Yours" (reviewed here), "Aftershock" feels like an ever-so-slight letdown. It's not that it's a bad album - or even really a lesser Motorhead disc (looking right at you, "March Or Die"), it's that it can't possibly meet the hopes and expectations fans built up, especially in light of Lemmy's recent health problems.

On the good side, guitarist Phil Campbell's still cranking out some of his best ax-work. "Do You Believe," in particular, ought to be taught to future generations as a case study in ass-kicking guitar solos.

The disc's best track, "Queen Of The Damned" is literally a distillation of everything that makes Motorhead great. Kicking off with Lemmy's trademark fuzz-bass blitzkrieg before launching into some high-speed riffing by Campbell and punky drumming by Mikkey Dee, it's easily one of the best Motorhead tracks since the days of "Ace Of Spades."

It's also interesting to hear the boys slow things down a bit on the Delta-fueled "Lost Woman Blues," which carries hints of "Limb From Limb" off the "Overkill" album in its slow-then-speedy format. "Dust And Glass," the other slow number, feels quite introspective in its ruminations on life and death, especially given Lemmy's recent struggles with diabetes and heart trouble.

On the downside, there are definitely some phoned-in moments here. Campbell's riff on "Crying Shame" is overly simple and the track never really goes anywhere. The band's stab at an AC/DC groove on "Keep Your Powder Dry" doesn't work all that well either.

Not that you'll remember any of that as Mikkey Dee pounds the hell out of the furious drum intro to "Paralyzed," which closes out the album in style — and shows that age need not dull a band's fury. It's fast, brutal and a potent reminder of just how much modern metal owes to Mr. Kilmister's particular brand of speed-fueled boogie.

True to its name, Motorhead's "Aftershock" isn't quite the earth-shaking experience that its predecessor, "The World Is Yours" was, but it's still quite a good album in its own right. If you're even a passing fan of the band, you're going to find a lot to love here.

Highs: "Queen Of The Damned," "Dust And Glass" and "Paralyzed"

Lows: "Crying Shame" and "Keep Your Powder Dry"

Bottom line: Motorhead continues its late-career winning streak, but doesn't quite hit previous heights here.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)