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Aftershock marks Motorhead's 21st studio album since the band's humble beginning in 1975. Staying true to their roots, Aftershock champions the band's consistent track record by delivering their signature, hard and heavy sound – which is more than can be said about some of Motorhead's peers.
Although Aftershock fails to introduce new musical concepts or an obvious evolution in sound, Lemmy Kilmister, Phil Campbell and Mikkey Dee have managed compose the album in a way that refines their old-school punk rock style. Possibly influenced by Lemmy's recent health scare, the lyrics are penned in a more patrimonial manner and take a nostalgic, almost philosophical, tone.
Opening track, 'Heartbreaker', is an instant reminder that Motorhead havn't deviated from their old ways, and incorporates intense power chord riffs that lay the foundation for Lemmy's grainy vocals. Predictably steady tempos and transient guitar solos keep the focus on the distorted sounds that construct the heaviness of the tracks.
Songs such as 'Coup De Grace', 'End of Time' and 'Paralyzed' are perfect examples of the mortal frustration and sentimentality enlaced in Aftershock. Though the music is grungy, the lyrics are what alter the tracks' direction from head-banging to forced introspection.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, 'Going to Mexico', 'Do You Believe' and 'Queen of the Damned' are enriched with the original Motorhead essence and comprise the rock-anthem tracks of the album. With fast-paced tempos and upbeat guitar riffs, Lemmy alters his sound into the vocal equivalent of a mudslide; this change in vocals is especially apparent in 'Dust and Glass' as well as the bluegrass-esque track, 'Keep Your Powder Dry'.
Understandably, the band refrains from deviating too much from what their fans expect and this has embalmed them in a timeless sense; however, 'Lost Woman Blues' integrates deep-rooted blues themes and is heavily influenced by the era of Hendrix, ultimately revealing the longevity of Motorhead.
Aftershock may not garner much admiration from newer generations, but loyal listeners that have followed Motorhead's impressive musical career can attest to the fact that none of their albums have ever been produced with public preference in mind. Ultimately, Aftershock provides an affirmation that Motorhead still knows how to do it and do it really well.
Album opener ‘San Angeles’ will get feet moving and booties shaking, but the rest of the album is decidedly more post-rock oriented. The influences of Pink Floyd only really make a grand appearance on psychedelic tune ‘Lunar Drift’, with its spooky synths and echoing bass line.
‘The Eliminator’ takes the listener back to the eighties again, as the repetitive electronic beat that is used sounds a lot like the 8-bit sounds that were the backdrop for many early eighties video games. Imagine the aforementioned desert wasteland turning 8-bit coloured.
The eighties also dominate in the strummed intro to ‘Martin Rev’, evoking memories of Survivor’s ‘Eye of the Tiger’. You’d almost think the guys of Maserati had wished they were making music a few decades ago.
Having released no new material for almost a decade, Metallica finally return to the scene with their latest album Hardwired… to Self-Destruct. Written mostly by James Hatfield and Lars Ulrich, this is the first album that doesn’t include any song writing contributions from Kirk Hammett since he joined the band in 1983; when the album was being written, he lost his phone in a Copenhagen airport which included 250 riff ideas so he had to start from scratch.
The two disk album has 12 tracks in total with 6 on each that still retain the thrash metal vibe that Metallica has come to be known for. Following the same fast pace, the first song ,‘Hardwired’ starts with a steady drum and guitar riff that will get you head banging and tapping your feet in no time.
With strong songs like ‘Moth into Flame’ and ‘Halo on Fire’, the first disk has the familiar thrash tropes that make it what it is; it’s fast, it’s hard, it’s in your face and has an attitude, which is what makes Metallica so awesome.
However, the first disk is not without fault; the fifth song ‘Dream No More’ feels out of place musically as its rhythm and guitar work doesn’t feel cohesive with the rest of the songs on the disk, as if it was supposed to be on a different disk or in another album as it goes from fast then slow and conflicting itself.
The second disk, on the other hand, starts on a different note with songs like ’Am I Savage?’ and ‘Here Comes Revenge’ following a slower tone than the rest of the album, though ’Spit out the Bone’ might be the fastest song on the whole album and will surely make you feel like you need to catch your breath afterwards.
As a whole, the album sounds like one huge song, especially the first disk which feels fluid and, in a way, follows a rhythmic pattern; however, the second feels a bit tamed and toned down, as even though it has some fast-as-lighting guitar work, it still lacks some oomph to it. Still, it offers a level of satisfaction for diehard fans who have waited for eight years for new material.
All in all, Hardwired… to Self-Destruct is a great addition to the band’s discography; the band members have given it their all, while not showing their age. We just hope it doesn’t take them another eight years till the next one