Best of 2015: Motorhead's Bad Magic

by Kevin Wierzbicki

The day that the world of rock and roll had dreaded for so long has arrived. Lemmy Kilmister is dead. A legendary figure in the business, Kilmister had fronted hard rock band Motorhead for 40-years, and was a member of space rock outfit Hawkwind before that. Lemmy's appetite for booze and drugs, somewhat tempered lately, was well-documented. And while those who thought about such things figured it would be the excesses of life as a rock star that would take him, in the end Kilmister succumbed to cancer on December 28, a mere four days after his 70th birthday. As Lemmy was fond of saying at the beginning of every concert, We are Motorhead. We play rock and roll. And they did, up until the end. Despite being in and out of the hospital for much of the year, Lemmy mustered the strength to join fellow Motorhead members Mikkey Dee and Phil Campbell to record one last album. Bad Magic was released in August, and here we republish our review of the beloved band's finale. Here is the review:

It's been a real rollercoaster ride for fans of Motorhead these past few years and that situation continues today. In the same week that Bad Magic was released, frontman Lemmy Kilmister experienced a shortness of breath during a concert in Salt Lake City, forcing the show to be canceled after four songs. Kilmister is in such a rough state that fans can't reasonably expect his health to get much better but they can still expect the band to give their all when able, as on Bad Magic.

A little ironically, the album's opening cut is called "Victory or Die," and begins with Lemmy spitting out those words defiantly. As far as Motorhead's penchant for speed goes the song would have to be considered mid-tempo, and perfect for guitarist Phil Campbell to take a hot and not rushed solo for the song's bridge. But the band's trademark superfast pace is present on "Thunder & Lightning," the pounding, Thomas Edison name-checking "Electricity" and other songs throughout, including "Shoot Out All Your Lights" where drummer Mikkey Dee, normally thrashing away like crazy, intros the song with a bit of jazzy flair.

Tough to think about, but "Till the End" may be inspired by Lemmy's having come to grips with his mortality; the song plays out to a slower pace and while not exactly sad, features lyrics like "You can't predict tomorrow" while addressing personal loyalty.

The almost jubilant "When the Sky Comes Looking for You" closes out the album's 12 original cuts, but Bad Magic ends with a take on the Rolling Stones chestnut "Sympathy for the Devil," a cut that gives Dee's tribal drumbeat the spotlight. As Lemmy says at the beginning of every Motorhead show, "We are Motorhead and we play rock and roll." Boy do they ever.

Get the album here.

Best of 2015: Motorhead's Bad Magic

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