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Lemmy, Mikkey and Phil are a crunchy frog of a legend by this point - and I do mean all three of them, because this lineup, the longest-running by far and the most prolific, keeps grinding out record after record of material better than the old stuff. Contentious, sure, and you're probably getting tired of me saying it, but as a lyricist, Lemmy's as strong and substantial and funny and cutting as he's ever been. Phil and Mikkey are mostly responsible for the music, and Motorizer is more of the band's singular distorted biker rock that combines a rootsy vibe with metal and punk like no other, possibly because of Lemmy's literary bent and that bent voice. Mikkey calls this a diverse Motorhead record but they've all lately been about this diverse - and let's face it, that's not al that diverse! It's all just different new superlative permutations of butter they've churned before. However, 'English Rose' is the catchiest butt-shaker since 'Killed By Death' and 'Back On The Chain' is a bit like 'Pay Your Price' but there's a nice break and vocal melodies and vocal rhythms (there's a term you don't hear too often - check out opener 'Runaround Man' for more of Lem's skill with this) make it headbang along with a chuckle and a Jack Daniels. Fave of the bunch though is 'Heroes' which is doomy metal with a tragic war-like chorus and a proggy construct which is part of more Motorhead songs than the guys get credit for. Not crazy about the cover or title, but man, once again, here's a Motorhead long-player long on plays around these parts.
Wake The Sleeper (Universal)
I've said it before, but Heep are in that cherished little league of heritage acts making excellent, solid, furtively creative albums laden with integrity now - records every bit as good as their classics. ZZ Top, Cheap Trick, Motorhead and at the top, Deep Purple are there too, Heep having a lot in common with the latter ever since 1970 when their rehearsal rooms were next door to each other and both brought out honkin' Hammond organs to grind up the guitars. Wake The Sleeper is the inspiring follow-up to two similar albums from Heep's modern era, namely Sea Of Light and Sonic Origami, but this one's heavier than both of those, or at least always louder and more energetic. Sure there's pervasive accompanying keyboards (more of a B3 sound), but mainly there's splashy uptempo rhythms, lots of riffing from anchor Mick Box (along with his signature wah-wah), and above all, gorgeous Byron-suggestive vocals from Bernie Shaw, who's been in Heep longer than the since deceased Byron or any other vocalist. There's a chemistry and a sound of classic Heep, despite myriad line-up changes, but Shaw and Box make sure their own version reigns very, very close to the classic era represented by the first five records (subtracting Salisbury... ha ha, poor Salisbury). A new drummer kicks songs like 'Overload' into a realm of renewed vitality, and yes, quite simply, I've found myself playing this more than anything else the past month, never tiring of the positivity and regal blend of these players and the alchemical soup they first created and continue to create anew, fortunately with reverence for the original spices.
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