Metal-Is Records, 2002
REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 04/12/2002
I'm starting to get worried about Lemmy Kilmister and Motorhead.
After a streak of albums which seemed to suggest that Kilmister and crew could do absolutely no wrong, some chinks in the armor started to appear with Snake Bite Love. Their last studio effort, 2000's We Are Motorhead, continued that trend, though it seemed to be a little more solid of an effort throughout.
Now Motorhead offers us Hammered, a disc which almost sounds sluggish at times, and doesn't really show the group using its three key pieces - bassist/vocalist Kilmister, guitarist Phil Campbell and drummer Mikkey Dee - to their full potential.
In some ways, I'll admit I'm a hypocrite here. As much as I loved the more conventional approach that Motorhead worked into their sound on 1996's Overnight Sensation, I didn't think it as worked as well since, and it almost sounds like Motorhead isn't totally comfortable in this setting anymore. "Walk A Crooked Mile," the disc's opening track, is all the proof one needs of this - though Motorhead offers up some more painful exhibits on "Down The Line," "Mine All Mine" and "Voices From The War". Even "Brave New World," Kilmister's scathing look at religion and society in the early 21st Century, doesn't measure up as well as one would hope. (The inclusion of Guns N' Roses keyboardist Dizzy Reed on "Mine All Mine" dares to suggest that Motorhead has regressed a bit back to the days of March Or Die, easily their weakest album overall.)
This isn't to say that Hammered is completely without merit. "Shut Your Mouth," the lead single from the disc, is admittedly a track that has to grow on you, but reminds me a lot of "Sacrifice" in some ways (albeit slowed down significantly, and without the time changes that only Motorhead could handle), but proves to be an enjoyable track. Once Motorhead gets down to business, the skies look much brighter, and songs like "Red Raw," "No Remorse" and "Kill The World" all show that even after 27 years, Kilmister can still kick anyone's ass. The spoken-word piece "Serial Killer" would have been the ultimate way for this disc to end.
This is where the final two mistakes are made. First is the inclusion of "The Game," a song Kilmister wrote for pro wrestler Triple H - Jesus Christ, Motorhead writing for the WWF has got to be one of the signs of the impending Apocalypse. Sorry, guys - I love ya dearly, but this song really sounds like a cast-off. The other mistake is a tepid live version of "Overnight Sensation" - and since I'm working from MP3 files (I'm guessing my publicist friends lost my address), I can't say for sure where this was recorded, but it sounds like it was something done for television. "Overnight Sensation" is a great song; this just isn't as solid a performance as I would have liked. (Besides, it wasn't that long ago that Motorheadbangers were given Everything Louder Than Everyone Else.)
I absolutely hate writing anything negative about a band like Motorhead, especially when they're a group I've followed for over 15 years. (I know - to some of the older fans, I'm still a rookie.) But Hammered is not the strongest release that Motorhead has graced its fanbase with, and dares to suggest that the boys are getting a little tired. Here's hoping they come back next time with an album that knocks my nose into my brain to prove me wrong.