Sanctuary, 2004

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Who would have thought that, 30 years after their birth roar, Motörhead would have still been tackling the music world on their own terms?

Critics might have lambasted Lemmy Kilmister and crew for constantly putting the same album out over and over again – but those are the people who hadn't been paying attention to what the band was doing. While the core of their style did indeed remain the same – why tinker with perfection, after all? – Kilmister, guitarist Phil Campbell and drummer Mikkey Dee were indeed challenging their fans (as well as themselves) with small but subtle differences in their music.

Inferno, their 2004 effort, was a step forward from their previous effort Hammered, and for the most part is a sonic assault on the listener that one won't want to stop. Yet, at times, the overall sound of the band makes it seem like something is missing – but it's incredibly hard to put one's finger on just what it is.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

In some ways, this disc features some of the best music Motörhead had been creating for several years. Tracks like “In The Name Of Tragedy,” “Smiling Like A Killer,” “In The Black” and “Killers” all capture the ground-and-pound style of the band, hammering home their point musically in the briefest amount of time needed, so that they don't wear out their welcome.

Motörhead continued to take some chances on Inferno, too. The album's closer “Whorehouse Blues” is an acoustic-based blooze (yes, I chose that spelling on purpose) that captures the essence of the band (all of whom play acoustic guitar on this one) while maintaining a bit of a stylistic sneer in the lyrics and vocal delivery. There's a reason this one remained a staple of Motörhead sets up until Kilmister's death in late 2015.

Other experiments are not quite as successful. “Keys To The Kingdom” is a pseudo-ballad that just never takes root or captures the spirit of the moment like they hoped, while “Suicide” simply falls flat. Still, there are more successes than failures on this disc – guess it's just that, after 30 years, listeners came to expect a lot out of a Motörhead release.

So what is it about Inferno that just doesn't sound right overall? Perhaps it's that the band is starting to use – or maybe overuse – guest performers. Granted, it's only one guest star on this disc – namely, Steve Vai on two songs – but it just doesn't always seem like having guests is the perfect fit for Motörhead, for whom less always seemed to be more. The same could be said with the production of Cameron Webb – if anything, it's too clean. Still, these are minor quibbles.

Inferno is a step in the right direction for Motörhead, even with a few stumbles, and is a worthwhile addition to any music fan's collection (especially if they're a diehard Motörheadbanger).

Rating: B-

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© 2017 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 Sanctuary, and is used for informational purposes only.