Review by Joshua on January 22, 2005.
There are so many bands who fade away slowly, gradually weakening and burning out.
Then there's Motorhead.
Motorhead starts and ends with the same style that's defined them for the last three decades: A timeless blend of edgy rock and roll, traditional metal, and Jack Daniels. They've grown harder and heavier over time, but the basic song structures don't really change. Of course, bands who don't change at all are marked for death, and it seemed Motorhead followed this course on their last few CDs. They'd done nothing really memorable since Sacrifice in 1995,leading listeners to wonder how much of their talent left with Wurzel. However, here's what distinguishes Motorhead from the world's Metallicas and Megadeths: with Inferno, Motorhead incorporate exactly enough style changes to make their trademark style sound fresh and interesting. This is not the re-recorded Ace of Spades. This is a reinvented Motorhead.
Their songwriting has matured. Their music shows a diversity of influences, but retains the trademark Motorhead playing style. Their material is catchier and less anonymous. And Lemmy has managed to scribe some of the most intelligent lyrics since Orgasmatron in 1986, ranging from the serious and thoughtful (‘In the Name of Tragedy’) to the completely hilarious ("Whorehouse Blues"). ‘In the Name of Tragedy,’ has a more deliberate and menacing tempo than anything they've recorded since Orgasmatron. ‘Life's a Bitch’ plays at a rock and roll tempo last seen on ‘Don't Waste your Time,’ from the album Sacrifice. Actually, the tempo sounds remarkably like Little Richard...one of the few rock-and-rollers who looks creepier than Lemmy. Now, compare this to the frontal assault of tracks like ‘Fight’ and ‘Terminal Show,’ energetic thrash and pounding drums, and note that neither one has a weak moment on their new CD.
Well, therein lies the only criticism I can make: Some songs sound a lot like older songs. Of course, one expects that much from Motorhead. One wouldn't expect, though, that they don't sound like Motorhead classics. Rather, they sound like corrections to songs that were just slightly off, mostly from the early 90s. Compare ‘In the Year of the Wolf’ to ‘All Gone to Hell’ from Sacrifice. ‘Fight’ sounds a lot like ‘Burner’ from 1994's Bastards. Compare ‘Life's a Bitch’ to ‘Don't Waste your Time’ on Sacrifice. While they're not "No Voices in the Sky", it's obvious that some of these song ideas germinated years before -- even if they took decades to come to fruitition.
It's been awhile since Motorhead released an album where every song was interesting, memorable, and distinguishable from, well, every other Motorhead song. Infernodoes exactly this. There are no substantive weaknesses. There are no critical flaws. There's some rehashing of earlier material, but if that's not the hallmark of Motorhead, well then, what is? If you've never heard Motorhead before, and you want a stunningly bright, representative sample, then you should pick up Inferno. If you have, it suffices to say that this is Motorhead's best CD since Wurzel left, and you should hunt it down immediately.
Categorical Rating Breakdown
Rating: 8.2 out of 10