Being a band who has been around since 1975, and being a band who practically created a whole genre (speed metal) are two fairly astounding feats. Well now, Motorhead can officially add another bragging right to their list. Nowadays, there are very few bands who are twenty-years of age (or more) and still release albums that fans can know what to expect when listening to them. AC-DC, Ozzy Osbourne, and Motorhead are all bands who are like that, but AC-DC haven’t released a new disc in six years, and Ozzy only makes one per Leap Year. Thus, Lemmy, Phil, and Mikkey are the only consistently active band remaining in that group.
Some would argue that remaining so consistent isn’t something to be proud of because it probably means that the band has played it pretty safe and not tried anything new. But look at it this way: Motorhead is the heavy metal equivalent of comfort food. Their albums are reliable, but not in a bad way because fans are never disappointed. After all, most Metallica fans hated “Load,” right? Indeed, Motorhead are an old band who won’t win any new fans, but they still have lots of juice left in them, and they’re still able to kindle the same kind of excitement that they first produced thirty-some years ago.
Motorhead’s twenty-third album, this year’s “Kiss Of Death,” is no different. It’s a little short on surprises, but it covers all of the band’s well-known and perfected bases, so the songs have a tried and true sound. The album is ripe with all of the Motorhead goods: groovey guitar riffs/leads, speed punk drumming, and frontman Lemmy Kilmister’s famous throat cancer vocals and usually earnest lyrics.
“Sucker,” bolstered by a propulsive, blistering riff, gets the album off on a strong foot (and would also make a great show starter). Later on, “One Night Stand” and “Under The Gun” are highlighted by great, wailing, ascending guitar solos, and songs like “Trigger” (which also features a classically catchy Motorhead chorus that’ll stick to your brain), “Be My Baby,” and “Kingdom of the Worm” all sport deep, adherent grooves, making them among the year’s top cuts in speed metal. The acoustic tear-jerker, “God Was Never On Your Side” (which is just as depressing as previous ballads like 1993’s “Don’t Let Daddy Kiss Me”) also comes to mind when thinking of favorite tracks, and so do the fiery, chugging “Living In The Past,” the toe-tapping rhythm of “Christine,” and the super fast (almost careening) closer, “Going Down.” The bonus material, “R.A.M.O.N.E.S.,” is a cool track, but it’s not worth going out of your way to get because it has shown up on a couple of other places in the past.
In short, “Kiss Of Death” might not be exactly unpredictable, but it will almost definitely satisfy any fan who buys today’s Motorhead albums. And it might not quite rank up there next to “Ace Of Spades,” but you should still definitely go ahead and add this one to your collection.