“Aftershock” is more than Motörhead‘s 21st album; it’s a confirmation that everything is still rocking along in Motör-land with as much attitude, fire and brimstone as it ever did, despite Lemmy‘s health issues over the last couple of years. And who could blame the legendary hellraiser if he fancied slowing it down a little bit as he approaches his 70th birthday? After all, the man has been smoking, drinking and snorting his way through rock n’ roll for over fifty years and still he keeps coming back to show these young upstarts how it’s done.
What better way to do that, then, than release a belter of an album that shows all three members of Motörhead firing on all cylinders and whipping up a frenzy of ball-blasting, skull-rattling punk n’ roll with a couple of bluesy interludes thrown in for good measure. Granted, there’s nothing on “Aftershock” that’s going to raise the eyebrows or make people gasp in surprised awe but that was never the aim; the aim is, and has always been, to play rock n’ roll (to quote Lemmy‘s live show opening quip) and the band have seemingly gotten their heads together and made a whole album’s worth of quality songs sound like a band who’ve spent the best part of their lives on the road and have a few good miles left in them yet.
As if to hammer this point home, the self-explanatory ‘Lost Woman Blues’ is showcased early on as the third track, Lemmy‘s bowel-quaking bass and jaded vocals backed up by an on-fire Phil Campbell throwing in licks and solos over the mid-paced lament before drummer Mikkey Dee ups the tempo and the band explode into a blues-metal workout that’s as addictive as it is short. It’s a banger of a tune and thankfully not kept until the end of the album as the ‘odd-track-out’.
But after that piece of magic the boys open up the floodgates with the rollocking ‘End of Time’, which could show latter-day Megadeth and Metallica how to do fast and furious without making it sound like a novelty. It doesn’t let up there as ‘Do You Believe’ and ‘Death Machine’ continue the mayhem, the latter with a little groove courtesy of Mikkey Dee.
‘Dust and Glass’ begins with a laid-back bass riff and some lounge music effects before Mr. Kilmister gives us another life lesson in a more subtle way, the song being a power ballad without the schmaltz but with a furious guitar solo. ‘Going to Mexico’ could well be the Central American cousin to “1916”‘s ‘Going to Brazil’ and is a fun, if unremarkable, run that’ll no doubt make the live set on the upcoming tour.
The album doesn’t slacken off as it draws to a close, the only real curveball being the stomping ‘Silence When You Speak to Me’, which stands as another high point. ‘Crying Shame’ recalls the pounding groove of ‘Love for Sale’ while the Saxon-sounding ‘Keep Your Powder Dry’ works as a solid rallying cry so late into the album, before the final bomblast of ‘Paralyzed’ threatens to melt your face with some intense thrash a la ‘Burner’.
In the big scheme of things “Aftershock” isn’t going to be the first album to be on people’s lips if they’re asked to name a Motörhead album, but the same could be said of any of their albums that aren’t “Ace of Spades”, “Overkill”, “Bomber” or “No Sleep ‘Till Hammersmith”. With that in mind, it’s still a belter of an album that is easily on a par with “Bastards”, “Inferno” or “Orgasmatron” as an album that deserves to be heard because of the sheer forcefulness of the songwriting and performance. Yes, Lemmy is sounding a little world-weary in his vocal delivery but that adds to the authenticity of the music and the man can still weald a mean bass. Mikkey Dee once again shows why Lemmy constantly refers to him as “The best drummer in the world” (or somewhere close to it, anyway) at their gigs, his constant battering as much a template of Motörhead‘s music as Lemmy‘s bass, and Phil Campbell really shines on here with some well-crafted guitar playing that does actually get itself heard over Lemmy every now and then. Basically, it’s the best modern Motörhead album until the next one comes along and, for the time being, the future of rock n’ roll is in the best possible hands.