Snake Bite Love


CMC International Records, 1998

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


A lot of critics like myself have been recently talking about the comeback of metal - older groups like Judas Priest and W.A.S.P. have come back to the forefront, while others like Quiet Riot and Ratt have decided to reunite.

Motorhead, though, is a unique case. They have continued plowing forward with their own style of metal, irregardless of the state of the genre and the smoking wreckage of former bands that have fallen in their path. Reduced to a three-piece again a few years ago, Motorhead continues to follow their own hearts and, led by their omnipresent bassist/vocalist/ ubermensch Ian "Lemmy" Kilmister, they have continued to pad their fan base.

Their latest effort, Snake Bite Love, seems to sum up the '90s version of the band, with influences in the songwriting dipping back to their 1991 album 1916 - and in doing so, they take a minor step backwards.

One of the most outspoken frontmen of any genre (with maybe the exception of Zack De La Rocha of Rage Against The Machine), Lemmy again pulls no punches in his lyrics here. From the "politician swine" on both sides of the Atlantic ("Take The Blame") to those out to deceive ("Don't Lie To Me"), Kilmister's venom hasn't weakened over 25 years - if anything, it's more potent now.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

With guitarist Phil Campbell and drummer Mickey Dee still on board, Motorhead's sound is just as strong as it has been in years, though there are times that the second guitar of Wurzel is still missed, if only to fill out the sound (nothing against Campbell's playing, for he is one of the band's best guitarists to fill that slot).

The overall sound of Snake Bite Love is slower than some of Motorhead's recent albums. While such rockers like Bastards and Sacrifice almost reverted Motorhead back to speed metal, Snake Bite Love's tempo shifts down a gear or two, as heard on "Joy Of Labour" and the first single "Love For Sale". And while songs in this vein show that Lemmy and crew can write slower tempo songs, I have to admit I miss the all-out thrashing of some of the numbers. "Joy Of Labour" does give Lemmy a chance to show off his talents on the bass guitar, something I think a lot of people have taken for granted.

And as often as the music challenges the listener to keep up ("Assassin," complete with its bizarre tempo - is that 13/8 time?) Motorhead go out to just entertain their fans as well. The title track is one of the funniest, most interesting numbers they've done in some time - this coming from someone who thinks their last weak album was Iron Fist back in 1982.

I don't remember where I read it, but Lemmy claims the last time he tried "singing" was on Orgasmatron in 1986. Three words: bullshit, bullshit, bullshit. Lemmy shows more than once on Snake Bite Love that he is a competent, albeit hoarse, vocalist; the softer moments on "Dead And Gone," the harmony vocals on "Love For Sale," the harmonies on "Joy Of Labour"... I think you get the point. He might not be Michael Bolton... but then again, is that a bad thing? No singer, my arse.

While Snake Bite Love does keep Motorhead's energy level far into the redline, one can't help but notice that some of the songwriting seems to feel like these are leftovers from 1916, an album which had to grow on you before it displayed its true glory. Since receiving an advance copy of this album a few weeks ago, I've listened to it about 15 times, and only now am I really starting to warm up to it completely. On first listen, it's as cuddly as a pit viper.

Motorhead fans will surely swallow Snake Bite Love whole, and it is worth investing the time and money in. But it also could possibly be a warning sign that things won't always be so glorious for Motorhead.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1998 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of CMC International Records, and is used for informational purposes only.