Sound — 10
Lemmy is Lemmy. Motörhead is Motörhead. You will not be able to convince them otherwise twenty-one albums in. If you cannot accept these facts, then I can say there is little reason for you to continue reading this review. However, if you can accept that, if you do continue to read this review, you may find your face melted off from listening to this album. I'm not trying to sound juvenile, hardheaded, or arrogant. I'm just trying to prepare you for the ferocity of this album. I mean, one has to always expect a Motörhead album to be fast and ferocious, but this album is definitely two steps above their normal fare. The riffs are better and the hooks are catchier. Basically, the hard rock rocks harder. If you are one of the unconsecrated souls, you should know that the Motörhead brand of punkish rock and roll (I certainly wouldn't call it metal; at least not with this album) revolves around fast beats, great and easy to understand riffs, and Lemmy. Lemmy, on the most periphery level, contributes his distinctive guitar-like bass tone (listen to the start of "Queen of the Damned") and his ragged, industrial voice, which has survived since the '70s. Personally, I could never get into his voice, but any Motörhead observer must respect the fact that his voice is a defining characteristic of the band. On an inner level, Lemmy is the popular figurehead of the band, which many think can be just as important as the musical aspect. Lemmy's beaten face, his hat, his frightening (German?) cross, his boots, his leather have all created this persona of an iron man so to speak. This is definitely why many people all over the internet persist in insisting on Lemmy's immortality. Even if these claims are in jest, they still cast a powerful light over the band, something that can really put a face to the music. Back to this album in particular, everything is just better than normal for a Motörhead album. Everything has gone over the top, over that little hump that takes an album from good to great. It's as simple as that. If a little more specificity is needed, all of the riffs are insanely catchy, the guitar solos are instantly hummable, and the superbly simple production of the album makes it so that the onslaught of the guitars never ends. The drums do nothing to get in the way of the guitars and Lemmy turns in a fine vocal performance, certainly better than "Get Back in Line," which was the Motörhead single from the last album that I repeatedly see from some festival at which they played and which is continuously replayed on VH1 Classic. Those who are even passing fans of Motörhead or hard rock should check out this album; it's truly excellent.
Lyrics — 7
As stated in the opening of this review, Lemmy is Lemmy. You will not be able to convince him, or anyone else, otherwise. This is a pretty drab statement, but those who know Lemmy would know what I'm talking about. If you don't know what I'm talking about, you'll realize it after listening to the album for a minute. Honestly, I'm not a fan of Lemmy's voice and I can't believe that Motörhead is as big as it is with vocals like that. But I certainly respect the legions of Motörhead fans and the consensus of the rock/metal world that his voice is not only acceptable, but also exceptional. In the context of this album, Lemmy's deep yet raggedy, road worn, industrial voice has only slightly depreciated since the time of "Ace of Spades." In terms of lyrics, there's really no need to pay attention. Obviously when one pays attention, one will find that the lyrics are actually fairly interesting. But in truth, the lyrics act as the paint on the canvas (the vocal lines) that serves to complement the guitars and the bass.
Overall Impression — 9
The unsung hero of this album is its ability to give off different vibes through the different progressions on the songs even though they also use the same general structure and music theory. In addition to a couple of other characteristics, this one puts the album over the "good vs. great" hump. Overall, this album is hard rock that rocks harder. It is not a stretch to say that this album is the best Motörhead release in a couple of decades. To be honest, I thought that "Queen of the Damned" was a level above "Ace of Spades." While this whole album is exceptional, the best three songs are "Queen of the Damned," "Paralyzed," and "Knife." It's funny; those three song titles actually do a bang-up job describing "Aftershock."