31 years into their career and the legendary British metal act Motörhead are still going strong. So strong, in fact, that they still have more than enough vigor left to trade blows with the young bands of today. Kiss of Death is either their 18th or 19th proper studio album (depending on whether or not you consider On Parole and their self-titled effort seperate albums). And what an album it is!
Seldom do bands cling together this long without losing flair. Yet somehow, Lemmy Kilmister and the boys have stuck it out, and continue to make top notch music. Although the 60-year-old Lemmy is the only original member left in the band, the trio he forms alongside Phil Campbell and Mikkey Dee is the longest serving lineup in their history.
In 2004, the band truly fascinated me with what may be their all-time best album, Inferno. Yes, this is the band whose prime was lived in the early 1980s with the success of Ace of Spades and No Sleep 'Til Hammersmith, pulling out what is argueably their more powerful release nearly 25 years later.
I was worried how well they would follow that album. With Kiss of Death, the band remains strong and energetic, churning another handful of classics with limited studio time. The opener "Sucker," the melodic "Trigger," and "Going Down" cover familiar 200mph grounds the band has composed in the past. The album also features slower rock'n'roll tracks, such as "One Night Stand," "Devil I Know" and "Christine." Those who enjoy the occasional power ballad will also enjoy the poignant "God Was Never on Your Side," featuring backing vocals from Ignite's Zoli Teglas.
Kiss of Death has a few quirks, unfortunately. A handful of the songs sound a little too similar to some contemporary rock and metal forms, such as "Living in the Past" and "Be My Baby." Though the songs themselves aren't bad at all, they just don't sound right for Motörhead. They also don't flow as well with the previously mentioned tracks. Some of the lyrics aren't too impressive, either (as seen in "Christine").
Overall, the album is still very strong. Considering how far into their career Motörhead is presently situated, it is truly excellent. Although I still prefer Inferno, Kiss of Death displays a great amount of energy for a band of their age, and I consider it one of the stronger albums of 2006. For the most part the songs are great, the production is great, and the band remains undiluted and clever in true Motörhead fashion. As guitarist Phil Campbell stated in a recent interview by ultimate-guitar.com, "We write songs for the three of us; we don't write them for anyone else; we don't write for people who buy the records." If things continue to move as they have been for the past decade, we can expect another great studio album from the veterans sometime in 2008. If Kiss of Death is at all indicative of things to come, the trio should remain as strong as ever for at least another decade.