MOTORHEAD: Sacrifice

Can you tell the mood of a band from the sound of an album?

If there’s one thing that comes through on Sacrifice, it’s a band TIRED. Or annoyed. Or pissed off. Or all of that and summat else too. There’s a weariness and a breaking-point groucho to this album, probably stirred by Wurzel’s place (and soon to be ex place) in the band. He left when it was done, marking the end of the Burston years and, with it, the end of Motorhead as a four. Check the photo on the back of your CD to see if Wurzel is in it – pretty sure I once read that he was taken off the back cover of later pressings. From then on it was Lemmy, Phil and Mikkey, right up to the day the Motor’s engine died on December 28th, 2015.

So yeah, Sacrifice is tired but in no way is it slow, and it’s definitely one of the more diverting Motorhead listens. Awkward, aggressive and downtuned heavy, Sacrifice is muddy as shit, miles away from Bastards‘ sunnier Californi-crunch, and all the better for it. That’s not to say that Bastards is iffy – Burner, Death or Glory and Liar see to that – but it dips in the middle and Born to Raise Hell is shite. Sacrifice is where Motorhead get neck-deep dirty with some muscular chops.

Motorhead Sacrifice

Brutal end of an era

Let’s start with Mikkey Dee, because the drums here are fucking knockout.

A then-future Dee said, on the Inferno bonus DVD, that it would be so easy to overplay Motorhead songs and complicate them, but even though he doesn’t overplay and never has, it does feel like he was cut some drumming slack – either that or he asserted himself and called more shots, ‘coz his second full album with the band sees him contribute a lot more than just tempo shifts.

First track Sacrifice is your archetypal Motorhead firestarter. Like Judas Priest’s Painkiller, drums define the intro, but where Scott Travis went hell bent for speed in one of the metal’s bestest opening gunfires, Dee cuts a rumbling discharge loose that totally sets the mood for the record. Bruising. After Sex & Death dishes a quick 12-bar punk ‘n’ rollock, Over Your Shoulder throws the first of those Sacrifice ball curves:

Was that a mistake in the intro?

Flick it back. Play it again. Miss the beat again.

Eh??? Feels like Dee comes in late and corrects everything, but it’s no error – they do it again later, and it’s doubly weird when you hear it in a Motorhead track because … well, because this is Motorhead and they play rock and roll, right? Yet this tiny bit of rhythm-shifting becomes a top Sacrifice moment precisely because it’s so un-Headly. Love it. Hulking groove-beast of a tune, too.

Right then, a couple of other Sacrifice killers. Despite its weary intro, Order/Fade to Black is a monster – wait for the pick-up AND the pick-up’s pick-up for double-kick manna that makes air-drum goons of us all. Throw in a sleaze-bender blues metal breakdown afore a final speedout and you’ve got a pretty packed four minutes.

Dog-Face Boy is DOWN. As in, tuned down, further down. Again, not your typical Motorhead move (a nod to the prevailing grunge winds of the day?), but the dog-face one shoves it right up the mid-tempos, Motorhead-style.

Make ’em Blind has zero guitar, not till the midway when solos square up and face off, and even then they’re knocked back in a distant squall. Before then we get rhythm and a cappella as Dee pairs it up with Lem’s bass-and-growl for a military march, but one that’s more off-road stealth than parade-ground flash. It’s arrangements like this that pull Sacrifice up and out from any bogged-downers you might have got from mudsome first impressions.

Seeing as we’re speaking of bogs, does anything sink the album?

Not really. It’s not long, and there are no dodgy covers, which always helps. Don’t Waste Your Time is the token rock ‘n’ roll workout, but it’s one of their better ones, snatching Going to Brazil‘s vibe and even laying on some S-A-X, though the Brazil good-mood is squashed by Sacrifice’s general scowliness. You might say that Out of the Sun is an anticlimactic closer, but even then there’s a redemptive bass and solo outro.

Sacrifice has brute force. It’s a battler. War is a standard topic for Motorhead, but Sacrifice sounds like it almost IS war – a band fighting with trench slogs and breaking points, Lemmy barking the orders with middle-aged hoarse. You can feel the tension and the strain

and yet, it’s a great record, one that moves off the template a bit and lacks neither pace nor groove. If you’re doing a Motorhead gap-fill of their later years, don’t skip it – Sacrifice is a proper gnarly bastard.

Motorhead: Sacrifice – released 1995 on Steamhammer

This review was started a while ago, intended for the first anniversary of Lemmy’s passing. Didn’t get anywhere near finishing it. The idea was to shine a yellowed fading torch on some of those less mentioned non-‘classic’ Motorhead albums, but now that Eddie Clarke has joined Lemmy and Philthy in the Great Bar in the Sky, we just have to give him a mention after a non-Eddie review. But what can we say that his guitar hasn’t said already? Better just to pick a bunch of top Fast EC moments and play them, like We Are the Road Crew’s ferocious solo and feedbacker ending. And Ace of Spades, obvs. And the whole of Overkill. RIP Eddie Clarke.


Hairy Halloween

Last year we took in a few soundtracks and noir-funk jazz scores to make a break from any metallicus extremicus noise stuff. This year, we’re going for the retro metal sound: mostly classic bands from the late ’80s or thereabouts, a bit of a slasher vibe, a bit of ‘remember that?’ in 11 (yes) tracks. WARNING: hair metal is on this list, no apologies.

DOKKEN: Mr Scary

Big hair kick-off? Too right. George Lynch had one of THE guitar tones of the 80s, a tone that would sit on any commercial horror of the day (maybe that’s why they did Dream Warriors for Nightmare on Elm Street 3) but this heavy instrumental from Back for the Attack is a shock for anyone who missed it, thinking that Dokken were nowt but hair and teeth. Well, they ARE hair and teeth, but Mr Lynch’s Mr Scary is a scorching exception and a horror-themed must.

OZZY OSBOURNE: Suicide Solution (live version from Tribute)

Can there be a rock voice more suited to Halloween than Ozzy’s doleful projections? Doubtful. But this live version (can’t find it on youtube) does more than showcase Ozzy – as the album title says, it’s a Randy Rhoads gig and the Suicide Solution solo has enough stuttermoanandscreech to commune with the undead any time of the year.

MEGADETH: Go to Hell

Snarling sneering wavy Davy, so Mustainey. Lost on a Bill and Ted OST, Go to Hell makes the list because it’s not overplayed, it’s literally hellish and it’s got one of those thrash-sinister vids that captures the right atmos – low sophistication and max impact, just like the flicks we’ve already mentioned. Bit weird. Decent tune. Exhume.

JANE’S ADDICTION: Ted, Just Admit It

Right, we’ve had George Lynch and Dave Mustaine, but what connects them? Dave Navarro (yep) – they both appeared on Navarro’s guitar tutor videos online (well worth a look, ‘specially to see Dave N fail to master Dave M’s admittedly awesome spider-chord) – and so we might as well have a bit of Jane’s … might as well have Ted, Just Admit It. Detached and creepy and wrapped in Ted Bundy, it erupts as violently as the lyrics: art shocker. What a band.

CARCASS: Incarnated Solvent Abuse

Video. Black rubber. That’s all I’m saying, scared the shite outta ma younger self. Weirdly disturbing and low-budget effective, it’s a grindsome tempo shift with a guitar tone to die for. Or be suffocated by.

CELTIC FROST: Rex Irae (Requiem)

Haunting theatrics abound on 1987’s cold bold foray Into the Pandemonium, and none more than Rex Irae (Requiem) here as a half-dead sounding Tom G trades lines with afterlife siren Claudia-Maria Mokri over heavyweight orchestration. 

DANZIG: Soul on Fire

Evil Elvis, Fonzig, whatever he’s been called he’s definitely a singer with a fine bag o’ween pipes, and there’s enough demon, possession and Samhain refs for some proper rocking out on All Hallows’ Eve. Not spooky, but it’s Danzig, right? It just fits. Got the attitude. In fact, you might as well just play the whole album from Twist of Cain right through to Evil Thing. 

MOTORHEAD: Nightmare/The Dreamtime

The least-Motorhead track Motorhead ever did, except for the one that named the album that this track came from (1916). Semi-ambient, drumless, bassy, keyboardy and loaded with Lem-menace thanks to a fistfulla backwards masking (sign o’ the times). Golgotha, ace of spades, damn right.

METALLICA: The Small Hours

Check that opening. Tension? Ominosity? Double yes, that’s the soundtrack to Stalkerville Central and it’s backed by a predatory proto-grunge riff lurching outta the shadows of 1987. Still haven’t heard the original, mind.

MELVINS WITH JELLO BIAFRA: In Every Dream Home a Heartache

Hunter S Thompson said that when the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. Melvins have been pro all their lives, but on Everybody Loves Sausages they went for Roxy Music at their creepiest and outcreeped it by letting Jello Biafra do the vocals. Not only does he sound uncannily like Bryan Ferry – true, hear it here – but, being Biafra, he ups the sinisterism without even trying. Oh, and it’s heavy as a bastard as well.

WHITESNAKE: Still of the Night

Go on, HAVE IT! Light relief with ace riffs. He hears the wolf howl (honey), sniffing around your door. Here’s the tune, but if you want the video for an old-time’s laff….

Not cool enough? Seriously? Then here’s a lawless screamer to bang a final nail in a hairsome Halloween playlist before you load up a classic late-night film… Prince of Darkness, anyone?



Kanye feel it?


June means Glastonbury means headliner anticipation means a whole lotta speculation, and who are we to resist?

Last year it was Metallica who fired the ire, and while they weren’t pin-sharp they were human and knew what the game was, pulling off what looked – from the TV at least – like one of those pretty great Underdogs Victorious shows. This year’s bad-boy was even more divisive: everyone’s favourite Kardashian, Mr Kanye.

Should he have been there? ‘course he should. All that moaning and groaning and, lamest of all, a petition from the Fuckwits of Glastonbury 2015, was so far beyond the festival spirit that it was laughable. A petition? What, like you’re gonna sign something and change the bill so that Another Mainstream Guitar Band can headline? GET A LIFE!!! It’s music, not an illegal invasion – go watch something else, there’s not exactly a shortage at Worthy Farm, is there?

Me, I wanted Kanye West Inc to blow minds. Can’t say I’m a fan (megalomaniacal hip hop not my area) but I do have Yeezus and, musically at least, it’s a dense piece of work – way more intense than you might think – and if KWest is a fraction as good as people/he claim then a headline slot should be a piece of piss. Let him prove it. That way, it’s his gig to win or lose.

And for the first three or four tracks, he does win. Black Skinhead festival-loud? Immense. Excess-all-areas gigawatt light show? Ditto. NASA-scale spectacle that unfolds from one-man intro to mega-band multimedia Show Biz Ness ‘I was there’ moment?

Er … no. And that’s what kills it for the non-Kanyes who coulda been won. There is no spectacle from the World’s Greatest Rock Star (whatever), there is no attempt to connect, there is nothing at all but Wanye K in his sweaty combats, singing to his own tunes like a celebrity karaoke/Kanyeoke special. Real-time hubris: ‘I shall own this motherfucking stage. Coz I’m not letting anyone else on it.’

Flick the channel and see a saviour in Suede, performing to and for the FANS. Flick back to the Pyramid Stage and see a man on his own. In a crane.

West just lost.

Back on more familiar Amplifier ground, what about Motorhead? Sadly, it looks like the days of Motorheadaches might be gone. Lemmy is uncomfortably frail to watch, and when Ace of Spades gets sung instead of Overkill… ach. Sad to see. At least Spiritualized ace it over the weekend.

’til next time!