We Are Motörhead


CMC International Records, 2000


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Motorhead might have done themselves a disservice when they released Overnight Sensation back in 1996.

You see, I absolutely love that album - to the point where it's one of the few tapes I keep in my car on a permanent basis. As a result, I tend to hold everything Lemmy Kilmister and crew have done since then up to this album as a litmus test. It's not really fair, I know - after all, this is a band that, for 25 years, has cranked out pretty consistent product that has rarely disappointed.

Their latest declaration, We Are Motorhead, takes its root in the way Kilmister introduced the band during their last tour : "We are Motorhead, and we're here to kick your ass." It's not a bad effort, but there is still something lacking in the overall picture that has been missing since the group did Overnight Sensation.

The band - bassist/vocalist Kilmister, guitarist Phil Campbell and drummer extraordinaire Mikkey Dee - quickly show that even after a quarter century of slugging it out, they know how to capture the listener with good songwriting. The opening two tracks, "See Me Burning" and "Slow Dance," demonstrate the musical balance that Motorhead has been improving on over recent releases. "See Me Burning" is a hurricane of a song, one which might make you feel like your neck is going to snap off. "Slow Dance," on the other hand, is a track that allows Motorhead to lay down a rhythmic groove. It's a great one-two punch to start things off.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Regretfully, Motorhead tend to slide a bit. The cover of the Sex Pistols's "God Save The Queen" is absolutely brilliant; Kilmister might just have outsneered Johnny Rotten vocally. As for the originals, tracks like "Wake The Dead," "Stay Out Of Jail" and "Out To Lunch" - well, they're pleasant enough, but they don't have that sense of musical urgency to them.

The ballad "One More Fucking Time" is a turning point for We Are Motorhead. While I felt the song stretched out a little too long (this could well be the longest song Kilmister has written to date, clocking in at over six minutes), it demonstrates two things quickly. First, Kilmister is not as bad a singer as many people would want you to believe - something I've known since On Parole way back from 1976. Second, Motorhead are one of the few metal bands who can write a ballad and still make it sound good. 'Nuff said.

Motorhead save the final powerful punch for the last two songs, "(Wearing Your) Heart On Your Sleeve" and "We Are Motorhead". On the former, Kilmister again gets a chance to wax poetic about things on his mind ("Politics suck, you'll be shit out of luck / If you ever mess with the methods they use / No way to doubt, three strikes you're out / You against them, it's your freedom you lose"). And as for the self-promotional bravado of "We Are Motorhead," well, at least they're telling the truth in this one. Besides, it's been two decades-plus since "Motorhead" was released (a song originally written for Kilmister's old band Hawkwind), so what can it hurt?

One thing I'm willing to concede is that We Are Motorhead is an album that begs the listener for repeat listenings. Many songs, especially "(Wearing Your) Heart On Your Sleeve", didn't really show their potential until I had lived with this disc for a while. And maybe in the coming days and weeks I'll grow to love this one as much as I love Overnight Sensation. Then again, I thought the same thing about Snake Bite Love, their last studio effort, and I don't go back to that one nearly as much as I thought I would have.

We Are Motorhead is the latest statement from these aging troubadors that they're in the game for the long run, musical fashion be damned. And while this is a minor improvement over their last studio outing, it still hasn't equalled their masterpiece.

Rating: B-

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© 2000 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of CMC International Records, and is used for informational purposes only.