Motörhead’s “Bad Magic” (2015) wins with meanest guitar riffs, thumping drum beats, and raw bass lines

Motörhead, the English rock veterans around legendary frontman Lemmy Kilmister mark their 40-year anniversary with the release of their 22nd album Bad Magic on August 28, 2015.

Bad Magic: The Album

Victory or Die kicks off the album with no long-breathing intro; simply gets to the point right away with Lemmy shouting out ‘Victory or Die’. The song is an uptempo rock song in good ol’ rock trio manner. Nothing fancy, simply straight forward rock n roll.

Thunder & Lightning has been out there for a while already as a promo track. The fast-paced song kicks ass in a similar, rough way like other Motörhead classics such as Rock Out, Bomber, or Ace of Spades. Definitely one of my favourites on Bad Magic.

Fire Storm Hotel mellows the tempo and introduces a more bluesy mood. The chorus is characterised by Lemmy’s harmony vocals, and a very good guitar solo by Phil Campbell adds great spice to the track. This is a fun song that can be a highlight at any rock party.

Shoot Out All of Your Lights brings the listener back to a more head-nodding mood with Mikkey Dee showing off his creativity as a rock drummer. The song follows a more, let’s say, progressive arrangements approach. It switches from cut-time to double-time to a pumping straight drum beat, which influence the guitar riffs accordingly. The cool thing about Shoot Out All of Your Lights is that the upcoming parts are unexpected.

The Devil keeps what the title of the song promises: A mischievously fun uptime rock song with smart lyrics. Maybe the best chorus up to this point of the album.

Electricity is another traditional, straight forward rock song in good ol’ Motörhead manner that tells you everything it needs to tell you within 2 minutes and 17 seconds.

Evil Eye keeps up the traditional straight forward rock style, but adds a darker mood and more dramatic melodies. In someways it reminds me of the classic Motörhead song Killed by Death.

Teach Them How to Bleed is characterised by Mikkey Dee’s double-time and double-bass drum action combined with more bluesy guitar riffs. What stands out is Phil’s harmonious guitar solo. Rather unusual for him but very fitting here.

Enters Till the End, a wonderfully honest ballad that makes even metalheads cry like girls at a Justin Bieber event. Lines such as, ‘In my years my life has changed. I can’t turn back the time. I can tell you just what made me change. All I know is who I am. I’ll never let you down. The rest will give you trust until the end.’ underlined with the heart-breaking chord progression make this song an instant classic!

Tell Me Who to Kill resumes the traditional – and dare we say – by now legendary straight forward Motörhead rock mood with a true wall of distorted sound. For whatever reason, Lemmy’s distorted bass sound cuts through the song more than in the previous songs, and that’s a good thing!

Oh yeah! Choking on Your Screams is what I consider the 2015 remake of the classic Orgasmatron. Lemmy’s singing is lower and more wicked than on any song up to this point. Also, the tempo and the mean riff add an unprecedented evil character to the song. Simply fantastic!

When the Sky Comes Looking for You stays (mostly) true to its title and introduces happy – for lack of better words – melodies and a mid-tempo straight shuffled beat animating the listener to nod his head in traditional rock manner. The song is also characterised by a very strong lyrical hook, ‘Who could you blame, who could you sue, when the sky came looking for you…’ A fantastic song to lead into the closing song of the album, and at the same time one of my favourite songs of the album, because of the synergy between a simple happy melody that transitions into a more serious and dark feel with the perfect lyrics. A hidden gem on Bad Magic.

The album closes with Sympathy for the Devil, a cover of the classic The Rolling Stones song. What can there be said about this one? Just one thing: In my humble opinion, better than the original because of the raw and honest Motörhead attitude.

In closing

It doesn’t matter how you get this album, as long as you actually get it. Bad Magic is one of Motörhead’s best albums in their catalogue, which comprises 22 full-length albums by now. I haven’t been this excited in a long time while listening for the first time to a new Lemmy & Co. album. The sound provides the listener with mean guitar riffs, thumping drum beats, raw bass lines, and Lemmy’s remarkable voice. The production of the album is concise and keeps in line with the musical concept. My all-time favourite Motörhead studio albums have been Ace of Spades and 1916. However, as of today, Bad Magic will join their status.

Sebastiano Mereu

YouTuber + host of the #FHTZ online music show with co-producer @simonkurt + marketing & digital content producer + university lecturer