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Saturday, 9 July 2016

Reviews: Motorhead, Rage, Hellyeah (Reviews By Paul H)

Motörhead: Clean Your Clock (SPV)

Filmed and recorded in Munich a mere six weeks before Lemmy sadly passed away, Clean Your Clock is a fitting epitaph to a band who meant so much to the whole music industry. The irony of Lemmy’s death is the fact that the metal world’s outpouring of grief is highly unlikely to be matched by a surge in sales of this final release. It is well known that Lemmy made some pretty poor business choices with regard to the copy right of Motörhead in the early years of the band, to the extent that it’s really difficult to establish which merchandise is actually official.

Clean Your Clock isn’t Motörhead in their prime, but it is a band defiant in the face of pressure and determined to deliver a show worthy of their reputation. What you get is a gritty, dirty recording which demonstrated the immense bond that the three members of the band shared. Plenty of feedback accompanies Phil Campbell’s superb blues filled guitar work and the massive power of Mikkey Dee’s thunderous drum sound dominate throughout. However, it is the incredible strength of Lemmy, who despite clearly being in a seriously unwell position, maintains the foraging runs on his Rickenbacker whilst also delivering a solid if unspectacular vocal performance.

The range of songs demonstrated the power and skill which the band maintained throughout their career. As always with Motörhead, the bulk of the set list is made up of tracks from the early classic albums, Ace Of Spades, Bomber and Overkill. Take your pick from opener Bomber, Stay Clean, Metropolis, The Chase Is Better Than The Catch, No Class, Ace Of Spades or a magnificent Overkill which concludes the set. The rest of the set contains a number of gems, with sterling versions of Lost Woman Blues from Aftershock and a melancholic acoustic Whorehouse Blues from the brilliant Bad Magic. For me, the absolute highlight comes in the form of a blistering Rock It, from the much underrated Another Perfect Day. Lemmy’s humour remained to the end with his albeit limited crowd interactions perfectly dry and full of wit.

If you want the definitive Motörhead live album, then you’ll need to go back to 1981 and the No Sleep Til Hammersmith album. However, for a snapshot in time, Clean Your Clock pretty damn good. As an epitaph to one of rock’s favourite sons, it’s just brilliant. 8/10

Rage: The Devil Strikes Again (Nuclear Blast)

Back in 2010 I had my first encounter with German power metallers Rage on the RJD stage at BOA. I have to be honest, they didn’t have me rushing to grab their extensive back catalogue but they were interesting enough to keep my attention for about half an hour in the damp. I hadn’t crossed paths with them again until recently when they released studio album 23, yes, 23, The Devil Strikes Again. I can only applaud Peter 'Peavy' Wagner, the one constant in a band of regular line-up changes. He has been at the helm of this band since 1984 and his angst ridden vocals and driving bass lines thrust the band, completed by newest members, guitarist Marcos Rodriguez and drummer Vassilios Maniatopoulos forward through 73 minutes of routine power and thrash metal which will no doubt be lapped up by the German fans whose appetite for this genre is insatiable. It’s fast and furious and technically absolutely solid.

After 13 tracks you arrive at the real gems of this release. Hang on, I know that riff. Yep, it’s the start of three cover versions designed to make you weep. First off, Skid Row’s Slave To The Grind, which sticks faithfully to the original but Wagner doesn’t have the chops Seb Bach had in 1991. And then the fun really begins with an ambitious but ultimately futile attempt at Rush’s Bravado. Now, any band that wants to over Rush really needs to have big bollocks and I have to admire this attempt. But hey, this is Rush you are covering. Fuck all the way off. It is dreadful. I’ve listened to this several times and musically the band have done a reasonable job although Rodriguez’s guitar work obviously lacks the feel of Alex Lifeson. What really destroys it is the appalling vocals. You can’t match Geddy Lee. I’ve not heard such a poor cover since Three Inches Of Blood had the audacity to try Tom Sawyer at BOA a few years ago, something that genuinely reduced me to tears. It’s not over yet though with Y&T next in the cross hairs. Boy do they get it. Open Fire is totally decimated. Wagner’s vocals are shot, and it is just rubbish. For a track that kicks so much ass live, this is just dog shit. And for that reason, The Devil Strikes Again gets a putrid 5/10.

HellYeah: Unden!able (Eleven Seven Music)

So, it’s album number five for Hell Yeah, the proclaimed heavy metal “supergroup” which comprises Vinnie Paul, Mudvayne frontman Chad Grey, Nothingface guitarist Tom Maxwell, Kyle Sanders and Christian Brady. And it contains a cover … of fucking Phil Collins’ I Don’t Care Anymore. After a solid start with their first couple of releases, I felt that HellYeah stagnated and I struggled to be enthused with them in the live arena at BOA. I’ve got to be honest, Unden!able doesn’t set my world on fire. I don’t care for Grey’s Corey Taylor style vocals, and whilst the rest of the band are tight musically, with an as expected huge drum sound from Vinnie Paul, it sits too far into the Nu metal genre. There is limited variation throughout, and even after repeated listens I found it hard to distinguish between songs. If you like the staccato fire of Slipknot and Sevendust then this may well be of interest but for me it was limited and overall pretty uninspiring. 6/10

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