Janiss Garza
March 08, 1991 AT 05:00 AM EST


Current Status
In Season
Sony Music, WTG

We gave it an A+

Fifteen years ago, when spandex-clad rockers and safety-pin-pierced punkers were vying for attention, Motörhead — led by singer/bassist Lemmy, the godfather of thrash metal — was creating music that not only combined the two sounds but defiantly sidestepped all the trends. Unfortunately, bad record deals, legal hassles, and shifts in membership kept the group’s popularity on a purely underground level. That troubled history makes 1916 a musical and a personal triumph for the British quartet. With major-label backing, Motörhead has not only honed its crash-and-burn attitude on raucous tracks like ”I’m So Bad” and ”Make My Day” but transcends the form by delving into new musical territory without losing its grit. ”No Voices in the Sky,” for example, takes a pop-like hook and gleefully rubs it in the dirt, while ”Nightmare/The Dreamtime” creeps darkly through a thick, electronic fog. But the true highlight of this album is its title track, inspired by Lemmy’s longtime fascination with military history. His ageless, world-weary voice gruffly rasps a folk-like tune over drums and synthesizers. This tale of WWI’s 1916 Battle of the Somme is one of the most moving songs any metal band has ever done and is guaranteed to bring a lump to anyone’s throat. Unlike many of their imitators, Motörhead’s true soul shows through their torn denim. A+

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