Here’s the thing. Everyone remembers the 90s, so stop asking like it’s some deep one hand clapping rhetorical question, ok? Unfortunately, most people don’t remember how many fantastic metal records hit the shelves in the early 90s. This is of course because of the drain in visibility and major label support that came with the anti-rock star grunge movements. I mean how many classic bands released their best work at the outset of the 90s? Painkiller, Rust in Peace, Horrorscope, Seasons in the Abyss, even overlooked gems like Metal Church‘s Hanging in the Balance, all these are early 90s masterpieces and yet many couldn’t be more overlooked. So, here’s another one of the bunch. The band itself is a goliath of musical and cultural influence. Yet, this record, what was at the time their best record in years, bears no radio hits and almost no songs played live today. Still, when many would expect a commercial record in the wake of the band’s move to LA and a bigger label, they put out the grittiest and most honest album of their career.
“No Voices in the Sky” – The album’s opening track is the only one still in the band’s live repertoire but we’ll start with this haunting anthem. Far from being the smug rant of an new age atheist, this song’s commentary on a cutthroat culture, its spiritual impostors and manufactured patriotism, is just as relevant since Y2K as in the early years of the 20th century. The chorus hook is one of the best the band has written and, on this live DVD version, Lemmy’s coarse voice echoes simple, poetic lyrics to a German audience just a year after the fall of the Berlin wall. Drummer Phil Taylor, the supposed inventor of the rolling double bass, also saw his last album and tour with the band in 1991.
“Make My Day” - Though it gets tired and sad with other artists, another tough-talkin, sleazy anthem is just what the doctor ordered when it comes to Motorhead. I mean, that riff!
“1916″ - Though Lemmy Kilmister has long been known to have a fascination with the bloody history of humanity’s two World Wars, it is always presumed that this stems from a juvenile need to revel in warfare, or worse, from the kind of weaponry fetish that infects so many ”collectors” and “historians” today. You only have to listen to the first couple of minutes of 1916‘s title track to be moved by the nakedness of the lyrics, Lemmy’s croon backed by swooning of cellos, and thus realize that this isn’t the case. On the surface, this is a simple ode to the battle of Somme (“The day not half over and ten thousand slain”). The kind of poetic, human death Lemmy’s lyrics paint in this song, –even this has been taken from those forced to fight in the wars of the privileged, as today they are incinerated by humanity’s laser guided, mega-destructive 21st century weapons. Though this isn’t a concept album, its themes are an indictment of the cultures that created and sold the War To End All Wars but also a tribute to the young men they sent to die. Most importantly, the album doesn’t end here simply because it’s what the producer’s formula called for but because, rather than sing false myths about heroic victory or delve into Europe’s subsequent treaties and power struggles, Lemmy chooses to end with a portrait of the fallen. He assures them with the dignity that, at least in his narrative, they are centrally important.