Music

Motörhead: Kiss of Death

Thirty one years later, Motörhead hasn't changed at all. Not that we ever want them to.


Motörhead

Kiss of Death

Label: SPV
US Release Date: 2006-08-29
UK Release Date: 2006-08-28
Amazon
iTunes

As with any aging rock band, Motörhead is often on the receiving end of accolades these days, whether it's regarding their well-deserved 2005 Grammy, their successful 30th anniversary tour, their outstanding concert DVD Stage Fright, the double-disc reissues of their first seven albums (which rank among the finest CD reissues in recent memory), or the constant drooling by the classic rock set over the landmark album Ace of Spades. They continue to draw boisterous crowds that crave the usual renditions of "Ace of Spades" and "Overkill", but what most people fail to realize, however, is just how consistently good a band Motörhead has become on record. Of course, there's no arguing that their 1977-81 output ranks as one of the greatest runs in rock history, and the band went through a decade-long transition period after the departure of original members "Fast" Eddie Clark and "Philthy" Phil Taylor that wasn't without its share of creative valleys, but for the past decade, Motörhead has carried on with the same three-man line-up, delivering a string of quality albums that continues with Kiss of Death.

If there's one dude who knows full well that if something ain't broke you sure as hell don't fix it, it's Lemmy Kilmister, who since 1975 has been milking the same gimmick year in and year out. Loud guitars (sans effects), wickedly distorted bass, pummeling drumming, songs firmly rooted in traditional rock 'n' roll, lyrics dripping with anger, humor, and blunt sexual come-ons, and of course, the omnipresent growl of Lemmy himself. The man could have easily fallen into self-parody by now, had it not been for his outstanding supporting cast of guitarist Phil Campbell and drummer Mikkey Dee, who pack enough flash to make each new album sound fresh and energetic, something especially evident on 2004's Inferno, and which continues on the new record.

By bringing in Inferno producer Cameron Webb for another go-round, Motörhead doesn't hide from the fact that they want at the very least to duplicate the success of that release, and from a musical standpoint, Kiss of Death succeeds, the trio pushing all the right buttons. The raucous album-opener "Sucker" is quintessential Motörhead, full of speed, piss, and vinegar, featuring slashing riffs by Campbell that hearken back to the Clark years, and relentlessly propelled by Dee, who is by far the best drummer Lemmy has ever had in his employ. "Kingdom of the Worm" continues where Inferno's fantastic "In the Name of Tragedy" left off, a monstrously heavy tune highlighted by Dee's thunderous double kicks and ride cymbal, while "Living in the Past" locks itself into a brooding, mid-tempo groove.

As good as the heavy tunes are, it's not a Motörhead record without some pure rock 'n' roll, and there's no shortage here. Campbell's infectious riff carries the lively "Devil I Know" (and is that a bass solo we hear?), "One Night Stand" swaggers along in the tradition of "No Class" as Lemmy takes a poke at his own persona ("I've been a slut all my life"), and "Christine" struts like the New York Dolls of old, further proof that Lemmy's love of the ladies will never cease. Despite his monotone growl, Lemmy and the boys have a sly way of sneaking catchy melodies into their songs, as "Trigger" attests, while "Under the Gun" boasts the same kind of blooze-drenched swagger of the mid-80s b-side "Just Cos You've Got the Power". Much like tracks like "I Don't Believe a Word" and "Whorehouse Blues", "God Was Never on Your Side" tones things down; over an acoustic guitar, Lemmy sounds like an old sage expressing his opinion of fundamentalist religion, and not mincing words one bit. The re-recording of 1991 fave "R.A.M.O.N.E.S." is a touch unnecessary, but it's a spirited performance nevertheless, obviously in tribute to the departed Joey, Dee Dee, and Johnny.

The bottom line, though, is that Kiss of Death rocks, pure and simple. Lemmy's now in his 60s, Campbell has been a loyal sideman for 22 years, and Dee has been pounding the skins for 14 years, but the three old gents continue to sound like a brash bunch of young, horny kids on disc, proof that a guitar plugged into a Marshall stack is often as useful as that famous little blue pill.

7

Music

Books

Film

Recent
Film

The Dance of Male Forms in Denis' 'Beau travail'

Claire Denis' masterwork of cinematic poetry, Beau travail, is a cinematic ballet that tracks through tone and style the sublimation of violent masculine complexes into the silent convulsions of male angst.

Music

The Cradle's 'Laughing in My Sleep' Is an Off-kilter Reflection of Musical Curiosity

The Cradle's Paco Cathcart has curated a thoughtfully multifarious album. Laughing in My Sleep is an impressive collection of 21 tracks, each unapologetic in their rejection of expectations.

Music

Tobin Sprout Goes Americana on 'Empty Horses'

During the heyday of Guided By Voices, Tobin Sprout wasn't afraid to be absurd amongst all that fuzz. Sprout's new album, Empty Horses, is not the Tobin Sprout we know.

Film

'All In: The Fight for Democracy' Spotlights America's Current Voting Restrictions as Jim Crow 2.0

Featuring an ebullient and combative Stacey Abrams, All In: The Fight for Democracy shows just how determined anti-democratic forces are to ensure that certain groups don't get access to the voting booth.

Music

'Transgender Street Legend Vol. 2' Finds Left at London "At My Peak and Still Rising"

"[Pandemic lockdown] has been a detriment to many people's mental health," notes Nat Puff (aka Left at London) around her incendiary, politically-charged new album, "but goddamn it if I haven't been making some bops here and there!"

Music

Daniel Romano's 'How Ill Thy World Is Ordered' Is His Ninth LP of 2020 and It's Glorious

No, this is isn't a typo. Daniel Romano's How Ill Thy World Is Ordered is his ninth full-length release of 2020, and it's a genre-busting thrill ride.

Music

The Masonic Travelers Offer Stirring Rendition of "Rock My Soul" (premiere)

The Last Shall Be First: the JCR Records Story, Volume 1 captures the sacred soul of Memphis in the 1970s and features a wide range of largely forgotten artists waiting to be rediscovered. Hear the Masonic Travelers "Rock My Soul".

Music

GLVES Creates Mesmerizing Dark Folktronica on "Heal Me"

Australian First Nations singer-songwriter GLVES creates dense, deep, and darkish electropop that mesmerizes with its blend of electronics and native sounds on "Heal Me".

Music

Otis Junior and Dr. Dundiff Tells Us "When It's Sweet" It's So Sweet

Neo-soul singer Otis Junior teams with fellow Kentuckian Dr. Dundiff and his hip-hop beats for the silky, groovy "When It's Sweet".

Music

Lars and the Magic Mountain's "Invincible" Is a Shoegazey, Dreamy Delight (premiere)

Dutch space pop/psychedelic band Lars and the Magic Mountain share the dreamy and gorgeous "Invincible".

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Music

Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" Wryly Looks at Lost Love (premiere + interview)

Singer-songwriter Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" is a less a flat-earther's anthem and more a wry examination of heartache.

Music

Big Little Lions' "Distant Air" Is a Powerful Folk-Anthem (premiere)

Folk-pop's Big Little Lions create a powerful anthem with "Distant Air", a song full of sophisticated pop hooks, smart dynamics, and killer choruses.

Music

The Flat Five Invite You to "Look at the Birdy" (premiere)

Chicago's the Flat Five deliver an exciting new single that exemplifies what some have called "twisted sunshine vocal pop".

Music

Brian Bromberg Pays Tribute to Hendrix With "Jimi" (premiere + interview)

Bass giant Brian Bromberg revisits his 2012 tribute to Jimi Hendrix 50 years after his passing, and reflects on the impact Hendrix's music has had on generations.

Jedd Beaudoin
Music

Shirley Collins' ​'Heart's Ease'​ Affirms Her Musical Prowess

Shirley Collins' Heart's Ease makes it apparent these songs do not belong to her as they are ownerless. Collins is the conveyor of their power while ensuring the music maintains cultural importance.

Books

Ignorance, Fear, and Democracy in America

Anti-intellectualism in America is, sadly, older than the nation itself. A new collection of Richard Hofstadter's work from Library of America traces the history of ideas and cultural currents in American society and politics.

By the Book

Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto (excerpt)

Just as big tech leads world in data for profit, the US government can produce data for the public good, sans the bureaucracy. This excerpt of Julia Lane's Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto will whet your appetite for disruptive change in data management, which is critical for democracy's survival.

Julia Lane

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.