Motörhead Music, 2013

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


By all rights, it is a miracle that Aftershock ever was recorded. Motörhead frontman Lemmy Kilmister was going through a series of health problems – problems which, sadly, would never completely go away – and it became a struggle to even get this album recorded. I read somewhere once that Kilmister had to complete all of his vocals sitting down, his strength was so ebbed.

I'm going to be honest here: up until Lemmy's death in December 2015, I did not like Aftershock, and considered it to be one of the weakest albums in Motörhead's history. But it got a fresh listen this time around, with an open mind and open eardrums – well, as open as they can be after all the years of music reviews I've done and the damage I've endured. And, while I still think it's not a strong album, especially coming off of the classic my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 The World Is Ours, it is surprisingly good at times.

The lead-off “single,” “Heartbreaker,” is typical Motörhead – that is, go in, get your message across quickly and across the back of the head with a Rickenbacker two-by-four, and get out. But almost immediately, one notices that the production work, once incredibly crisp, is replaced with a more muddied sound. I don't know why the sudden change, but I just don't like it.

The band – Lemmy, guitarist Phil Campbell and drummer Mikkey Dee – do take some musical chances on this disc. “Lost Woman Blues” dares to try their hand on a slow, plodding twelve-bar before kicking it into overdrive for the final verse. It's a bit reminiscent of the original version of “Iron Horse (Born To Lose)” off of On Parole, but not quite as strong (though the guitars are much stronger than Larry Wallis' at the time). Likewise, “Dust And Glass” is a partial return to the concept of a ballad – not a true ballad in and of itself as the bridge amply proves, but overall is a much gentler sound for Lemmy and crew. It's interesting, and one wishes they had been given more of a chance to try this particular sound out in their career.

The overall problem with Aftershock is that it sounds like the band is taking it a little too easy at times, and not challenging the listener or themselves with the material. Yes, I understand that Lemmy was ill. But even in his final illness, when cancer (and God knows what else that never got diagnosed properly) had ravaged his body and vocals, Lemmy still was able more often than not to stand up at his microphone, bass across his chest, and musically give the finger to his impending death. On this disc, while songs such as “Knife,” “Paralyzed” and “End Of Time” are enjoyable enough, it just has the overall air about them that Motörhead could have done something more with them.

Yes, Aftershock is not Motörhead's greatest album, and yes, there is enough on it that makes it enjoyable and worth picking up. In short, this album proves to be a true enigma for Motörhead.

Rating: B-

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