CMC International Records, 1995

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


It's not often that a band really finds its niche after two decades together. In the case of Motorhead, while they've normally cranked out quality material since bursting onto the scene in the mid-'70s, they've been on a creative roll for a good portion of the '90s.

Case in point: Sacrifice, their 1995 release that saw their final recordings with guitarist Wurzel, who left the band around this time. This departure forced bassist Lemmy Kilmister and crew to tighten up their act to re-fit the trio (something Kilmister was used to; up until 1984, Motorhead was a trio). But something else happened in the process: they freed up the rhythm patterns to become a little more challenging. This isn't just metal, it's a touch progressive. And no matter what you call it, it's great.

First, my one complaint about this album: it's too damned short. I realize that Motorhead has put out short albums in the past (one of which, Orgasmatron, is still one of my all-time favorites). But somehow, I really wish that this one had more to it musically; I mean, what do you do after 36 minutes, once you've built up a good amount of headbanging steam?my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

You know you're in for one powerful trip once the title cut (and the album's opener) kicks in. To this day, I don't know how Kilmister, guitarist Phil Campbell and drummer Mickey Dee are able to keep the beat on this song; the rhythm pattern is that challenging. But "Sacrifice" is a definite war cry to let the world know that Motorhead was back on a bigger-name label (no offense to my buds at CMC International, but they were an up-and-coming label in 1995), and they were pissed.

Sacrifice is especially noteworthy for three things. The first, as we've hinted at already, is the use of more complicated rhythm patterns - or even just a shift in tempo, something the band hadn't used a lot of over the years. It could be a subtle thing worked into the mix ("Sacrifice," "Over Your Shoulder"), or it could be more pronounced ("Order / Fade To Black"). Either way, it is sure to keep listeners on their toes.

The second thing is the lack of a ballad (or ballad-like) track, something Motorhead had been doing regularly since 1916. It seems strange to use the words "Motorhead" and "ballad" in the same sentence, but it's even stranger to admit that I really missed that kind of a track this time around. Fact is, when you consider past tracks like "I Ain't No Nice Guy" and "Don't Let Daddy Kiss Me," you realize these things work. It's a minor disappointment, but a disappointment nonetheless.

Finally, Sacrifice is noteworthy for the use of shorter songs - namely, those that float around or just under the three-minute mark. "Sex & Death" is a barely two-minute onslaught that carries more power than a Commonwealth Edison transformer these days. (If you live in the Chicago Metropolitan area, you'll understand the sarcasm.)

For all the great tracks on Sacrifice (the first half alone will be enough to melt your brain), things seem to take a minor downturn near the end. Oh, tracks like "All Gone To Hell" and "Don't Waste Your Time" still kick ass, but others like "In Another Time" and "Out Of The Sun" seem to get lost in the shuffle. If Sacrifice has an Achilles' heel, this is it.

While I consider most of Motorhead's discography to be required owning, I especially see the last five years' worth as being essential for anyone who appreciates metal. One listen to Sacrifice, and you'll understand why.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1999 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.