You know what it's going to sound like. The only question is: Will Motörhead's 20th album be as strong as the last three?
The great, indomitable Ian "Lemmy" Kilmister turned 65 mere weeks before the North American release of Motörhead's 20th album. And bless him, not a single thing has changed over the course of his band's 35 year history. He and his mates still crank out the same ultra-high-decibel rock 'n' roll that won us over the first time we heard 1912, Orgasmatron, No Remorse, Ace of Spades, Overkill -- It's deafening; it's abrasive, and it's absolutely invigorating, and even when Lemmy creatively stagnates a touch, the music is nevertheless loads of fun. He's such a tireless devotee of rock 'n' roll music and its lifestyle that as long as we get a Motörhead album that sounds like Motörhead, we can let the odd lyrical cliché slide. We're all too grateful to still have the man around.
However, the dude's been on a mighty impressive creative roll as of late, Motörhead's last three albums, 2004's Inferno, 2006's Kiss of Death, and 2008's Motörizer proving that Lemmy, longtime guitarist Phil Campbell, and drummer Mikkey Dee are as full of piss and vinegar as Motörhead ever was, once again perfecting that balance of simple rock riffing with a massive, metallic bottom end. Like clockwork, The World is Yours has been churned out for the fans, and once again, the question is not what it sounds like – you know exactly what this sucker is going to sound like -- but whether or not the band is able to fire on all cylinders once again.
Longtime fans will find themselves elated with just how strong the new album starts off. "Born to Lose", a song that will leave many thinking, Wait, Motörhead doesn't have a song called 'Born to Lose' yet?, bursts forth with a Campbell riff not-so-subtly nicked from the 1980 classic "Shoot You in the Back", only this time tinged with a strong dose of metal menace and a drum performance by Dee that sees the drummer working the double-kicks into overdrive. The swift-moving "I Know How to Die" follows suit with the classic Motörhead d-beat and a flamboyant solo by the versatile, woefully underrated Campbell, while "Get Back in Line" has Lemmy displaying his trademark dry wit: "All things come to he who waits, but these days, most things suck." Those who love the martial, almost industrial cadence and tone of the classic "Orgasmatron" will get a real kick out of "Brotherhood of Man", which follows that 1986 track's template to a tee, right down to the otherworldly vocal performance by Lemmy. And how can you not love the raucous kiss-off tune "Bye Bye Bitch Bye Bye"? That track finds Campbell letting loose some Chuck Berry-esque riffs as Lemmy spits his venomous lyrics. All this is the stuff we want from Motörhead, as simple as that.
Unfortunately, for the first time in a long while, the album hits a bit of a speed bump along the way. With Lemmy's humor and Campbell's ability to let loose classic rhythmic riffs, you'd expect a song as simply titled as "Rock 'n' Roll Music" to be a real ass-kicker, but instead, we get a song that's just plain tepid, on cruise control rather than going full-bore. Like Motörhead's 1987 song "Rock 'n' Roll", it fails to deliver on the promise of the title. "Waiting For the Snake" is disappointment in a different way, utilizing a sleaze riff that sounds outdated compared to the usual timeless riffs Lemmy and Campbell come up with. Still, even though those songs momentarily slow the momentum and "Outlaw" sees Lemmy playing the Western card for the umpteenth time, The World is Yours is nevertheless a record fans will find well worth shelling out for, yet another statement by a classic band they won't be stopping anytime soon. Long may Lemmy and Motörhead run.