Bad Magic


UDR Music/Motörhead Music, 2015

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Twenty fifteen marked a historic milestone for Motörhead – specifically, Lemmy and a revolving cast of musicians had been around for 40 years. (Never mind the fact that the current band had been together now without any changes for 20 years.) And despite all of the health setbacks that Lemmy had faced in the previous two to three years up to this point, the fact he was still out there making music on his own terms was more than admirable.

But it's not without a tinge of sad recognition that one listens to Bad Magic and realizes there's something different about this album. Forget, for a moment, the fact that this would serve to be Motörhead's final studio album, or that Lemmy would die four days after his 70th birthday at the end of the year. Even listening to this, without any of the knowledge of how the story ended, the listener can start to figure out that the finish line was quickly approaching for the band – and while this isn't their strongest effort of their career, it's not a bad way to wrap things up.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The production quality has greatly improved over the previous release Aftershock; gone is the layer of sonic grit which all but erased the crisp highs of the treble. This allows the music to hit the listener with the sonic fury that it requires – a good thing, because this sometimes feels like the angriest-sounding Motörhead album in years.

It also shows the toll that the past few years had taken on Lemmy. There are times on Bad Magic when you can hear the strain in his voice – and while there have been hints of it over the last few studio albums, it is most pronounced here. Tracks like “Victory Or Die,” “Fire Storm Hotel” (honestly not one of my favorite tracks on the disc) and even what feels like the laid-back delivery on “Electricity” all showcase a man who is most definitely slowing down.

This isn't to say that Bad Magic is a bad album. “Electricity” is still an enjoyable track, and songs like “Thunder & Lightning,” “Evil Eye” and “The Devil” all show that even after four decades, Motörhead still have a lot to say – and you damn well better be paying attention.

And the cover of “Sympathy For The Devil”? Well, it does the Rolling Stones proud, that's for sure – but I'd stop short of saying it tops the original, even though it rocks harder. There once had been talk about Motörhead releasing an album of all covers – which would have been interesting, seeing they've done quite a few over the years. (Just as long as they didn't try covering “Cat Scratch Fever” again – yeek.)

There is no denying the pure power of guitarist Phil Campbell and drummer Mikkey Dee – and even Lemmy's bass lines are strong and up-front again, always a welcome sound. But while Bad Magic is a step in the right direction, it still suggested even back when it was released that Motörhead could have been cruising towards its eventual end. Regrettably, with Lemmy's passing just a few short months later, that thought was confirmed. Still, it's a hell of a final effort.

Rating: B

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© 2017 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 UDR Music/Motörhead Music, and is used for informational purposes only.