Motörhead Aftershock

Reviewing Motörhead is a bitch. If metal has royalty, Lemmy Kilmister is unquestionably the king, and what more can be said about a group that have served as a rock'n'roll cornerstone for almost 40 years? Despite their venerable reputation essentially giving Motörhead a free pass to do whatever they want forever, Lemmy and company continue to crank out music as loud, fast and hard as they always have. On 21st offering Aftershock, Lemmy's voice has aged like scotch in a fire oak barrel, developing nuance and sweetness even as some of the brash forwardness has decayed. He is the metal equivalent of Johnny Cash in this way: the creak and crackle of his vocal chords — the palpable crumbling of his voice — are powerful and emotive in and of themselves, becoming part of the aesthetic and execution of Aftershock. This authenticity bleeds into the rest of the record: the bluesy twang of "Lost Woman Blues" has a wandering quality, but there's still plenty of drive — some gritty ferocity — evident on the live-wire jumpiness of "Death Machine" and the built-for-the-circle-pit slam of "Going To Mexico." The momentum of album closer "Paralyzed" also makes it a highlight. Laughing in the face of his former health issues, Aftershock reaffirms the long reign of the king of our strange, leather-beaten, scruffy and glorious realm. (UDR)