Aftershock - MOTÖRHEAD

God bless MOTÖRHEAD.

At age 68, Lemmy Kilmister, of all the genuine rock 'n roll bad boys left to us, is monitoring his health. Having had to postpone numerous live dates including a European leg that just would've gotten started, the unstoppable Lem was recently sidelined after doctors discovered a hematoma that had been affecting his muscles. Kilmister has also been battling Type 2 diabetes for more than a decade and currently uses a defibrillator to treat "uneven bumps" in his heart.

Hell if you'd be able to tell any of this by MOTÖRHEAD's feisty new album, "Aftershock". If you don't know what to expect from a MOTÖRHEAD record after 21 of them now, you just don't know, period. However, there are heaps of variations and change-ups on "Aftershock" that marks it as a justly motivated effort. Few bands get a free pass for issuing the same album ad nauseum throughout their careers, but "Aftershock" should not only get a pass, it should get well-deserved horns-up from each able-bodied MOTÖRHEAD fan in the land. It's not just token respect and sentimentalism. "Aftershock" kicks serious ass.

It's a marvel Lemmy, Phil Campbell and Mikkey Dee still have so much throttle to shove into their eminent blues and grit rock. As always, MOTÖRHEAD is everything louder than everyone else and "Aftershock" rumbles like there's no quitting until The Reaper says so. The fact MOTÖRHEAD can still rocket like the days of "Iron Fist" and "Overkill" on "End of Time", "Queen of the Damned", "Paralyzed" and "Going to Mexico", geez, it surpasses expectation. Mikkey Dee decimates these songs with mashing fills while spanking the tar out of his skins on trad MOTÖRHEAD rock 'n rollers like "Do You Believe", "Coup de Grace", "Death Machine", "Silence When You Speak to Me", "Knife" and "Keep Your Powder Dry". After all this time between his stints in KING DIAMOND and MOTÖRHEAD, if you don't think Mikkey Dee is one of the absolute finest drummers in heavy music, you're mad.

Sure, much of "Aftershock"'s songs ring like old hats, yet there are crafty chord diversities and a slick breakdown on "Death Machine", a dirty snarl to Lemmy and Phil Campbell's riffs on "Silence When You Speak to Me" and a jiving shuck providing a groovy groundwork beneath a staple set of top chords on "Knife".

One of the other deviations from the norm on "Aftershock" comes with "Dust and Glass", which rings like "One Track Mind" for a moment before assuming a slow boogie drawl in the vein of early ZZ TOP. "Lost Woman Blues" is one of the standout songs with its John Lee Hooker drag that allows Phil Campbell to show off more of his blues repertoire than usual. Lemmy's choky sighs serve the droopy grafts of "Lost Woman Blues" before the song about-faces with a stepped-up overhaul of Norman Greenbaum's "Spirit in the Sky" psych-blues descant.

"Aftershock" contains many more surpluses spread over MOTÖRHEAD's tried and true schemes including Phil Campbell's awesome fret note taps dotting in tandem to the blunt speed of "End of Time". Plus, there's such intensity to "Heartbreaker" and "Paralyzed" it's hard not to be moved by the enduring power of these guys. Checking in and checking out with maximum decibels and showy precision, MOTÖRHEAD serves up another clinic at ages that find others long put out to pasture.

MOTÖRHEAD is no mere rock 'n' roll band; they're a freaking inspiration.

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