Sunday, July 9, 2017

1916

Motörhead stretch their creative wings and play ... ballads?!

1916 (1991) contains many of the aggressive, driving, rock-n-roll influenced heavy metal tracks we expect from Motörhead, songs like "The One to Sing the Blues," "I'm So Bad (Baby I Don't Care)," "Make My Day," "No Voices in the Sky," and "Going to Brazil." They blaze and fire, and when you hear them, you just want to bang your head, flip off your teacher, and punch someone.

"Eye for Eye, tooth for tooth, you all know what I mean.
What's the use of a cry for help if no one hears you scream?
No one hears you scream."

But Motörhead includes slower songs on 1916, songs about love ("Love Me Forever") and dark, atmospheric songs that are more eerie than rocking ("Nightmare/The Dreamtime"). The latter wouldn't be out of place on a Black Sabbath album (or maybe it could serve as the intro for a Megadeth song), but "Love Me Forever" is undoubtedly a power ballad. Not even Motörhead was immune from the trends of the 80s, but I can award points for waiting until the rise of grunge to do it. Not caring if a trend was dead before hopping on the bandwagon is the kind of no-shits Lemmy would give.

Even "Angel City," which has the hallmarks of a traditional Motörhead  rock tune, sounds more like a boogie from a bar band than the group that helped pioneer speed metal. It's only missing a backing piano and a horn section.

The closing song, the title track, contains no guitars or bass, just a simple, marching drumbeat accompanied by a cello as Lemmy sadly sings about young soldiers dying in the trenches. For a band that staked its reputation on swagger, noise, and controlled chaos, it's a somber, sensitive piece. It's genuinely sad.

"I heard my friend cry,
And he sank to his knees, coughing blood
As he screamed for his mother
And I fell by his side,
And that's how we died,
Clinging like kids to each other."

I'm not criticizing 1916, just describing it. It's an odd entry in the band's canon, but they play as well as ever. A few catchy, hard-driving tracks that don't overstay their welcome now mixed with a few deviations of the formula. It's not my go-to Motörhead album, but every time I listen to it, I'm glad I do.

Favorite Songs
"No Voices in the Sky" - Fast, aggressive, loud, and full of venom. Even Beavis and Butthead couldn't mock it.
"R.A.M.O.N.E.S." - A tribute to the legendary punk act that sounds like a Ramones song.

Favorite Moments
The pre-chorus and chorus of "No Voices in the Sky." It's where things go crazy.

Album Cover
The band's mascot Snaggletooth on a battlefield surrounded by flags of the nations that participated in World War I. Pretty cool.

Track Order
1) The One to Sing the Blues
2) I'm So Bad (Baby I Don't Care)
3) No Voices in the Sky
4) Going to Brazil
5) Nightmare/The Dreamtime
6) Love Me Forever
7) Angel City
8) Make My Day
9) R.A.M.O.N.E.S.
10) Shut You Down
11) 1916

Personnel
Lemmy Kilmister – Lead Vocals and Bass
Phil "Wizzö" Campbell – Guitar
Michael "Würzel" Burston – Guitar
Phil "Philthy Animal" Taylor – Drums

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